Fearless Change: Patterns for Introducing New Ideas

Mary Lynn Manns, University of North Carolina at Asheville

Linda Rising, Independent Consultant

Have you ever tried to introduce a new idea into your organization?

Even though change is difficult, leaders can't avoid it. So wouldn't it be wonderful if people who have successfully introduced a new idea into an organization could share their stories with you? Our book, Fearless Change: Patterns for Introducing New Ideas is the next best thing.

We have gathered proven strategies for leading a change initiative. To do this, we heard numerous experiences from people leading change in a variety of sizes and types of organizations throughout the world. While doing this, we documented our observations, read publications on the topics of change and influence, studied how change agents throughout history have tackled the problems they faced, and exposed our work for comment and feedback.

Change is hard. Leaders will struggle and so will the people they are trying to convince. But the stories of success we have heard show that there is hope. You need three things to introduce your idea: your belief in it, the determination to act on your belief, and some information on how to bring the idea into your organization. You supply the first two; the patterns in Fearless Change provide the third.

The book is available from:
Addison-Wesley Publishing Company

The book includes a complete version of the patterns, a framework for using them, and experience reports that describe how the patterns can help you introduce new ideas into your organization!

More information can be found at:

Best Book of the Year for 2004 in the Journal of Object Technology
Manns and Rising describe fundamental methods that can be used to introduce change into an organization without sending it into a collective funk.
Since this is the first step in the solution of most problems, I give this book the nod as the best book of the year.

Books that changed my career. 12 books to read this year.
David Bock says: "Instant classic. Here is how you can be a mover and shaker in your workplace."

Average customer review on amazon.com is 4.5 (out of 5) stars!

Review from Michael Feathers
Extremely well written guide to the people side of the business. The first thing a consultant learns is that our work isn't technical, it's people work. Sure, we teach technical things and solve technical problems, but unless we help people change, the technical knowledge falls on the floor and lies there. This book is written for people who are charged with changing their organizations. It contains a lot of distilled wisdom.

IBM Rational Edge
Book Excerpt

Michael Nilsson's babel says: Thank you Mary Lynn Manns and Linda Rising for your book

sample chapter

Michael Swaine discusses Fearless Change in Dr. Dobbs Journal, February 2005
The book freely acknowledges that people are not rational, that we use facts to justify emotionally-arrived-at decisions. It then presents techniques for getting things done anyway, despite this fundamental irrationality, by the use of proven patterns.

Agile Alliance website

George Dinwiddie's blog
... a wonderfully helpful book

Don Gray's blog
My thoughts about the book ... If you don't have the book, get it. If you have the book and haven't read it, do so now. This books takes information you may already know at some level, and provides a standard framework for the 48 patterns. The authors present the patterns in a "scenario sequence", but encourage you to add the patterns to your change agent repertoire and use what fits at the opportune time.

Director, Strategic Program Office, The Dannon Company
We are continuing to use your "Fearless Patterns of Change" as part of how we introduce change within the organization and are finding it very helpful in recognizing what actions we should take depending on the situation and person. We would like to further introduce these patterns into the organization so that everyone begins to speak the same language when introducing change.
One of the approaches that we are thinking of is to teach "Fearless Patterns of Change" as part of our internal Project Management course that we teach to our employees.

Review by Ilja Preuss
The whole book is quite entertaining to read, every chapter being to the point and at the same time filled with clever quotations and examples from the trenches. On each page you sense it's not only the experience of the two authors that is to your disposal, but also that of dozens of people they talked with during the years. If you want to have an impact on how things are done at your workplace, you should put this book at the top of your reading list.

Eric Valdes, student of Mary Lynn Manns
I was able to finish your book last night on the plane and I absolutely loved it! You and Linda give great insight and advice in how to really adopt change into an organization and gain the cooperation necessary from your fellow workers. I will keep this with me forever and remember many of the things you say as they are things that will really help me now and later on down the road. I could only wish that more organizations would buy this book and try to learn its core principles.

Review by Mark Needmam
How to introduce ideas when people just want to get things done? How to balance pragmatism with improvement? Beyond persuasion, what can we do to change things?
...especially useful if you are working in an environment where you want to make significant changes - it provides a lot of information around the best ways to do so.

Markus Gaertner, Group Leader Testing & Automation, Orga Systems GmbH, Paderborn, Germany writes:
Currently I am reading through your wonderful book "Fearless Change" and regret that I haven't taken the time to read it earlier.

Review by Tom Duff
If you want to be more effective in getting people to follow you when things change (or need to), reading this book will get you there.

The spark for a new idea in an organization most often begins with one or more individuals who has heard about or used the innovation and is intrigued over the potential. It then becomes their task to enlighten the rest of the organization. This can be an easier undertaking if one has an understanding of the problems that may be encountered along the way and what can be done to address these problems. This book captures recurring problems and the corresponding successful solutions for introducing new ideas into organizations -- we document these in a form of knowledge management known as patterns...

Pattern Summaries

Book Appendix

These files are formatted for easy printing on index cards:

  • Expanded version in [MS-WORD] (formatted to print on Avery 5388 card stock)
    Thanks to Don Gray!
  • Shorter version in [PDF]

    Our newest patterns (not published yet)

    A Few Papers

    Some (of the many) Presentations We Do