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The Six Secrets of Change: What the Best Leaders Do to Help Their Organizations Survive and Thrive

3.74  ·  Rating details ·  345 ratings  ·  49 reviews
From bestselling author Michael Fullan, wisdom for thriving in today's complex environment Successful organizations adjust quickly and intelligently to shifts in consumer tastes, political climate, and economic opportunity. How do they do it? The Six Secrets of Change explores essential lessons for business and public sector leaders for thriving in today's complex environm ...more
Hardcover, 151 pages
Published April 1st 2008 by Jossey-Bass (first published 2008)
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3.74  · 
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 ·  345 ratings  ·  49 reviews

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Leonard Tillerman
Feb 18, 2018 rated it liked it
The Six Secrets of Change
By: Michael Fullan

There can be little doubt that we are currently living in a rapidly changing society. Advanced technology and integrated communication systems have made the world seem smaller than ever before. For leaders and organizations to thrive, they need to embrace change and respond to the evolving needs of a dynamic society. Be that as it may, it is actually quite ironic that change in itself is one of the hardest things to effectively implement. Whether you ar
Nov 01, 2009 rated it liked it
I like Michael Fullan--I really do. He cuts through all the managerial blah-blah and asserts that it's really moral purpose that guides positive change in schools and other organizations. In the introduction (one of the better parts of the book), he says "give me a good theory over a plan of action any day," a phrase designed to strike terror in the hearts of any number of superintendents. His six secrets are the right stuff, although they don't move his body of work or thinking much beyond his ...more
Feb 22, 2014 rated it really liked it
The Six Secrets of Change was very helpful to me as a foundation to think about how to contribute to changing the culture of the organization I am with to an organization that values continuous learning. Each of the secrets makes since and the combination of the six together create a cohesive theory. I am looking forward to exploring and practicing these six secrets and contributing to secret four with our organization, to create and environment of learning.
Peter Atkinson
Jan 21, 2016 rated it really liked it
Secret One: "Love Your Employees"

Child-first stances in education are misleading and incomplete. The principal should value teachers as much as children. (in a way that everyone benefits)
Loving and investing in your employees in relation to a high-quality purpose is the bedrock of success.

Secret Two: "Connect Peers with Purpose"

The solution to the too tight-too loose dilemma in management of a system is purposeful peer interaction.

Just collaborating is not enough to ensure learning and growth in
Mar 24, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Wow! This book is terrific for anyone who is part of an organization--civic, business, non-profit or part of a community that wants to succeed. While the whole book is good, I am going back to re-read chapter 6 and conclusion when I am not on a treadmill and can place post-it notes all over the place. This is relevant in your classroom, in your home, in your town/city/county, your workplace, your place of worship, and in light of the current conditions and events (election debating) in the world ...more
Trent Mikesell
Apr 24, 2011 rated it it was amazing
I don't normally read books like this--I had to read it as part of a class I am taking. However, I am SO glad that I did read it. I really think that any leader or aspiring leader should read this book. Every leader that I have found effective in my life has followed principals in this book (or vice versa). Some of the best principles taught were
Love your employees (making them feel comfortable and cared about)
Transparency rules (making what you do transparent as a leader; this includes being
Aug 17, 2013 rated it it was amazing
I just finished reading this book for a grad class. If I'm being honest, I typically skim the books I have to read for grad class, however, I almost read this one from cover to cover! It is interesting, engaging, and applicable to all organizations. If you are in any type of leadership role...or want to be...I highly recommend this book!
Secret 2: Connect peers with purpose
John Collings
Aug 03, 2017 rated it liked it
The title of this book should be renamed, "Why I would like to Marry the CEO of Toyota and Other Canadian Fantasies". Micheal Fullan has some interesting ideas of how to lead a group of people and claims that the ideas work the same way at schools. I have seen these same strategies at work in schools I have worked for, and I don't necessarily agree that they work as effectively as he would hope that they would. This does not mean that they are not a great place to start with and build upon. The ...more
Feb 13, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Inspiran vision

The six secrets presented in to book I imagine are valuable for any leader - but as an educator I found them particularly insightful.
Khouloud Khammassi
Aug 23, 2012 rated it did not like it
Shelves: research
It's always wise to know what our policy makers, or alternatively their advisors, think. This is the perspective from which I looked for Michael Fullan's books and randomly picked this one although I should candidly say that the title eased making the decision.
At first, I was a little patient and I felt privileged to read a guru's book. Around page 50 or so, I decided to check some goodreads reviews on the piece I was holding. The first review I came across, which is too the most recently publi
Oct 29, 2014 rated it it was amazing
One of the colleges in my town has offered a degree in change (for many years and long before it was popular to talk about change), and because I know the librarian in the program, I have had the opportunity to hear about the dissertations and practicums. They have all been interesting. Working in a high school, I have (sadly) seen firsthand how difficult it is to make changes to anything. Even when the majority of the staff knows that change is needed and will afford great improvements, we stru ...more
Mike McKay
Michael Fullan brings a global perspective to the issues of system transformation and change management. He has studied these fields in education and other sectors and in countries and cultures around the world. He knows what works, what doesn't and why. For Canadians, it should be a point of pride that one of our own has such a deep impact on education policy and practice at the individual, system and national levels. Fullan identifies the specific elements associated with successful change lea ...more
Apr 02, 2013 rated it liked it
Shelves: business, non-fiction
I thought this book was about change management but really it's about how to run a successful organization. I'm not a fan of how business books are organized and this one was no different. Why do they always have to be lists? But there are some good tips here starting with Love Your Employees. Not sure why more managers don't heed this advice.

I also liked that the book was written by a professor who does a look of work with school districts. He's read a lot of management books so in some ways t
Jul 18, 2008 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: those working in education.
This was required reading for our next Leadership Team meeting at the school district. The district leadership were discussing the book, unfortunately, while I was at a conference in Spokane, WA.

The books has 6 basics tenants to successful change, from the author's experience in education and business. The concepts are good and sound. I would be excited to implement his strategies in my school district. As for all organizational change, it must come from the top on down. If the leadership belie
May 14, 2009 rated it it was ok
Recommended to LB by: SueO
Shelves: education
There's a lot of poor writing in this. There's also a great deal of "I'll explain this idea precisely and with lots of examples." And then I'd get to the end of the chapter and still be waiting for the precise explanation and lots of examples.

There are a few interesting ideas in this book. The idea of balancing the feelings of utmost confidence in what we're doing with the humbleness of being open-minded about ideas that might be better than those we're using is probably my favorite.
Jan 01, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book is not an "easy read". It definitely caused me to do some deep thinking and I often had to re-read sections of the book in order to grasp the essence of what the author shares. If I can sum up this book in two words it would be: systems and synergy. Applying the six secrets of change is about creating and using appropriate systems in organizations that work in synergy in order to create and sustain change. I actually enjoyed this book and plan on re-reading it.
Oct 13, 2011 rated it really liked it
Listening to this on CD... My first "read" on this general topic, and it's great. Interesting examples and great insights, certainly for someone new to the area. I have to hit rewind all the time. Are these kinds of books addictive, I wonder? I wasn't sure about the reader at first, but I'm hooked. I also wonder if it is more compelling because I am listening to someone talk about leadership and change, instead of reading it.
Jan 30, 2011 rated it liked it
Never trust a book that is so general that nothing can be taken away. This felt like one of the books. Fullan said all his secrets were "highly nuanced" but I think maybe they were just like Chinese food - they tasted good going down but ultimately left me feeling unsatisfied. I did like the idea about valuing the learning of both employees and customers, but this is nothing new.
Delores Morton
The secret is out--well actually we all knew these secrets already, but it is nice to have them in a succinct list for our reflection and perusal. I appreciated the reminders, because sometimes I do operate by rote and not with intention. I don't know that I feel empowered or equipped to drive change however, which is the reason I picked up the book in the first place.
Dec 25, 2013 rated it really liked it
1. Love your employees
2. Connect peers with purpose
3. Capacity building prevails
4. Learning is the work
5. Transparency rules
6. Systems learn

This is a great book for educational leaders, lots of examples from other countries and what teachers go through to become better. Very easy read haha :-)
Marjorie Turner
Feb 18, 2015 rated it liked it
The first secret about treating employees AND customers well resonated with me. Living in the corporate environment of constant re-orgs is exhausting and doesn't follow that suggestion at all. Overall the theory and ideas are excellent; would probably be better to read this in book format, vs audio while driving, as I found my mind drifting to other things.
Nov 10, 2008 rated it liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
Not Fullan's best, though it is quite readable in the big-margin, big-font, business book kind of way. This book summarizes lots and lots of research on organizational theory and distills it into six principles. They all seem pretty simple. What would be difficult would be to *apply* them, but this book doesn't explain how to do that.
Mélissa Romulus lisanti
Jun 10, 2015 rated it it was amazing
This book is a game changer for leading people through organizational change. Success in our era largely depends on innovating and leveraging existing resources. I was able to implement ideas from this book immediately and the results were nothing short of amazing!
Jun 04, 2015 rated it it was ok
Shelves: non-fiction
Audiobook. My mind wandered often while listening to it. He made some points I thought were good at the time but less than 2 weeks later I couldn't remember what they were. If the audiobook was only 4 CD's, the actual book must just have been a long magazine article.
William Lawrence
Jul 24, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: education
"Clearly, working in groups in and of itself is not the answer because of the possible closed-mindedness of groupthink...The Bay of Pigs, the Challenger..., Hitler, and terrorist groups come immediately to mind. Groupthink is too tight; pure individualism is too loose" (p. 44-45).
David Grant
Fullan is the master on systems change. His prescription of "purposeful peer interaction and learning in relation to results" goes hand in glove with formative assessment.
Nov 13, 2008 marked it as to-read
This book was reccommended by my superintendent in the district I work for. I will start this one soon.
Jul 11, 2009 rated it really liked it
Good book to jump start conversations with leaders about change - is helping me set my summer goals.
Mark Hanson
Mar 04, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: business
Basic principles that are good by themselves, better when placed together as in this work. Challenging to think about "systems learning."
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“Leaders have to provide direction, create the conditions for effective peer interaction, and intervene along the way when things are not working as well as they could.” 3 likes
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