Change: ICL’s Summer Reading Recommendations

July 9, 2018
ICL’s team picks their favorite books about change for this summer.


Switch: How to Change Things when Change is Hard by Chip and Dan Heath

Recommended by Dianne Russell 

Rooted in the hard work of changing habits, this book offers concrete and applied approaches to break through tough organizational change. Switch uses three things that make change more understandable and doable for me: brain science, three metaphors and specific practices. I especially appreciated the Heath brothers’ frames around motivation (how to get an elephant moving) and mental images that incentivize us to collectively shift habits (a destination postcard). They also bring us back to basic biology, and remind us that we humans are “pack animals.” They advocate that leaders use strategies that support change by shifting enough of a majority of the group that the minority comes along. While the book is focused on organizational change, I also found plenty of big “ah-ha’s” to also fuel my own personal change goals.


The Enlighted Entrepreneur by Shirzad Chamine

(For those more interested in a podcast than a book!)

Recommended by Sarah Clark

Even the strongest leaders experience mental self-sabotage – that little voice in your head that can be the Judge, Controller, Victim, Avoider, or Pleaser. Spend an hour with this podcast learning some ways you can turn your mind from hyper-critic to powerful supporter of your success. I find the framework a refreshing reminder that can unstick both the leaders I work with and myself.


Passage of Power: The Years of Lyndon Johnson IV by Robert Caro

Recommended by Kevin Brubaker

This fourth volume in Robert Caro’s originally-planned-as-a-trilogy about Lyndon Johnson is the best yet. It follows LBJ’s miserably failed presidential campaign, his years of being treated with disdain by the Kennedy Administration, and his brilliant return to power in the hours, days, and weeks following JFK’s assassination – in short, the change that he and the country underwent in a very short period of time. Unless you are an LBJ junkie or professional historian, much of this story is probably new. It is also a page-turner. Caro paints a picture of LBJ as a man worthy of contempt, impeachment, imprisonment, sympathy, admiration, and gratitude — a character far more complex than that portrayed in most great novels. In short, this book is a brilliant telling of an amazing piece of American history.


Stick with It by Sean Young

Recommended by Peter Lane

The mind and body are often stubborn when it comes to change. Less time on social media? Easier said than done. Quiet time in the evening rather than checking email? Tomorrow not today. Sound familiar?

In the past year, I have been especially interested in better understanding behavior change as I became a certified health and wellness coach. How could I best support others (and myself!) to be more intentional about lifestyle choices that align with their wellness goals and reflect the fullness of who they are in mind, body, and spirit? The path was one of change for me and still is. In Stick with It, Young delves into the science of lasting change by providing practical advice and inspirational stories about what he calls the seven “forces of lasting change.” It was reassuring for me to think about these forces – strategies, really – and their practical application, for each of us faces change every single day and the higher struggle to become our true selves. Surely one step at a time will get us there.


Start Where You Are: A Guide to Compassionate Living by Pema Chödrön

Recommended by Julian Keniry

I’ve read it forwards, backwards, from middle to all different directions and gain a new insight each time.  She is speaking from a Tibetan Buddhist frame, but I view it through diverse lenses.




The Speed of Trust: The One Thing That Changes Everything by Stephen M. R. Covey

Recommended by Mauricio Velasquez

What is trust? This classic shows how trust is defined, built, marketed, and, when it falters, how it can be restored. Organizations or departments with high trust are compared to departments or organizations with low or nonexistent trust. A strong, trust-based workplace is key to successfully weathering change.




The Gentle Art of Swedish Death Cleaning by Margareta Magnusson

Recommended by Megan Rolfe

I have yet to mention this book to someone and them not immediately exclaim, “DEATH cleaning?!” as if surely I misspoke. This sweetly beautiful guide is Magnusson reminding us to bring intention and thoughtfulness to the transitions in our lives, and to embrace the role of managing our belongings over time rather than leave it to loved ones to deal with (and suffer through) after we die. This spring, ICL moved to a new space from an office we’d been in for nearly two decades, and as we cleared out the many drawers and cabinets and file boxes, we spent a lot of time reflecting on the delayed toll of accumulation. At the end, we felt light and free – we didn’t know how much those filing cabinets were weighing on us until they were empty. What are you holding on to that has served its purpose?


Thinking in Systems: A Primer by Donella Meadows

Because two is better than one, a bonus book recommended by Dianne Russell 

I recently reached for an oldie but goodie book. I’ve been struggling with the questions of “How can I deepen my thinking about ways to help create positive change in the face of our current political reality?” Published in 2008, following her untimely death in 2001, Donella Meadows’ Thinking in Systems delivered what just what I needed. The book provides concise observations and artful illustrations of how systems work all around us.  Meadows – a scientist, farmer, teacher, and one of the best environmental and social thinkers of our time – offers cogent and lively descriptions. The book covers the way systems operate, what causes systems to “misbehave,” what helps systems function well, ways to fix system traps, and the importance of leverage points.  Most importantly, I found myself re-energized by the values of humility, learning, pro-active action, positivity, and wonder that permeate Meadow’s methodologies and approach.


We would love to hear from you! What is a book that has helped you or your team navigate change?

2 thoughts on “Change: ICL’s Summer Reading Recommendations”

  1. I so wish i’d seen this list before i took my 3-month sabbatical! I trust your team will have excellent suggestions – i’ll add them to my reading list.

Comments are closed.