Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Immunity to Change: How to Overcome It and Unlock Potential in Yourself and Your Organization” as Want to Read:
Immunity to Change: How to Overcome It and Unlock Potential in Yourself and Your Organization
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Immunity to Change: How to Overcome It and Unlock Potential in Yourself and Your Organization

4.06  ·  Rating details ·  1,764 ratings  ·  156 reviews
Unlock your potential and finally move forward.

A recent study showed that when doctors tell heart patients they will die if they don't change their habits, only one in seven will be able to follow through successfully. Desire and motivation aren't enough: even when it's literally a matter of life or death, the ability to change remains maddeningly elusive.

Given that the st
Hardcover, 340 pages
Published January 13th 2009 by Harvard Business Review Press
More Details... Edit Details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
Average rating 4.06  · 
Rating details
 ·  1,764 ratings  ·  156 reviews

More filters
Sort order
Start your review of Immunity to Change: How to Overcome It and Unlock Potential in Yourself and Your Organization
Jul 21, 2014 rated it it was ok
I had high expectations for this book and didn't feel like it delivered. The first chapter is about how powerful this book has been with groups... so I kept reading to figure out the details. Reading the book felt like listening to a infomercial on how groups can change when their steps are implemented.

1. Understand that people are resistant to changing
2. Make sure that you identify the problem you are trying to solve carefully and that everyone involved in the solution is on-board.
3. Recogniz
May 26, 2012 rated it really liked it
A reviewer on Amazon described this book well: Immunity to Change is a challenging analysis of how our well-developed methods of processing information and experience become barriers that hinder our attempts to achieve adaptive change. The first section of the book describes the theory and can be pretty tough going. The second applies the theory to case studies of organization change. The last is a primer on how to detect and overcome change immunity in your own organization.

What I liked about t
Seanán Mac
Oct 09, 2017 rated it did not like it
Awful book, kind of typical for the genre, unbearably smug management self-help masquerading as science beamed down from planet boss (where no one hates their job). The kind of book that essentially reads like an advertisement for itself.

The core concepts are two-fold the first revolves around "why do people not change when it's obviously for the better", and the solution "because of some unresolved trauma that has created an immune response", has the veneer of insight, but literally all the evi
Sep 06, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Finally a readable book by a developmental psychologist explaining stages of adult development. The author Robert Kegan at Harvard is probably the leading developmental psychologist in the country, but his first book Evolving Self was a tough read, just like Fowler's Stages of Faith. This book explains much more clearly how to identify stage changes and then gives many examples (mostly in work settings) of how people made changes in their lives. He explains how even when we really want to make ...more
Sep 02, 2017 rated it it was ok
1. I really like Kegan's developmental psychology model.

2. While the model is interesting conceptually, apparently the empirical evidence for it is more tenuous than Kegan admits.

3. Kegan then comes up with a method how to work through personal and professional changes (this book).

4. The immunity to change method is linked to his dev-psych model. This link is nice - but mostly an embellishment, rather than a functionally important piece.

5. The method itself is a super boring/dry 4 column sheet w
Matt Smart
Jan 24, 2019 rated it it was ok
There were only 2 interesting and helpful concepts in the entire book. One was the idea of “mental complexity” which is the measure of one’s ability to inspect and manipulate their own perspective rather than getting caught up in it. The second idea is that most people’s hesitancy to change, terribly entitled “immunity”, (it appears as though the authors were unaware of the positive connotations of the word) is due to an underlying core belief that they may or may not be aware of. To help someo ...more
Nov 04, 2019 rated it liked it
This book had some really interesting ideas. I liked the emphasis on addressing the gap between intention and behavior. But the title is terrible - it still confuses me. Resistance to Change would make much more sense. And like most books on academic subjects written by the researchers, the book goes on too long and begins to feel redundant. It was a good book, but I don't feel strongly about recommending it as a must read. ...more
Tõnu Vahtra
Feb 28, 2019 rated it it was amazing
How does one break out of the MATRIX? Mindset change for people and organizations is possible but it is usually taken as a technical challenge which is setting up for failure (adaptive challenges cannot be solved with technical approaches). The book intro was very intriguing and I was not that impressed after halfway through the book but it got better towards the end and the book does make some unorthodox statements on transformation of people and teams in order to cope with the growing complexi ...more
Linda Sands
Jan 17, 2014 rated it really liked it
What is preventing you from being able to change? What is your "immunity to change"? I found this book to be extremely useful. The authors provide many examples of how people may want to change but are also holding themselves back - as though they have one foot on the accelerator but also, and unconsciously, have one foot on the brake - no wonder change is not happening! They also discuss the importance of selecting one big thing to focus on changing and stress the importance of selecting that c ...more
Michelle Kusel
Jun 07, 2012 rated it it was amazing
The book is a little tough to read cover to cover, but the ideas behind the concept are SOLID and have totally worked for me!
Sara Goldenberg
Feb 18, 2017 rated it did not like it

So boring, so unhelpful.
Sep 20, 2019 rated it it was ok
One of the things I’m really trying to change is sticking to books that suck. This is most certainly one such book. What a self-congratulatory, pompous, ridiculously repetitive waste of time.
Larkin Tackett
Mar 09, 2022 rated it it was amazing
This book was recommended by the Annie E. Casey Leadership Develop Team, which is supporting our company to design a complex change initiative and to develop the mindsets to do it well. Immunity to Change provides a powerful developmental framework for individuals and teams to get better at their most important thing. A few key quotes:
- "... we are calling upon workers to understand themselves and their world at a qualitatively higher level of mental complexity." (25)
- "Anxiety, we have graduall
Feb 28, 2017 rated it really liked it
This book is easier to read than Kegan's prior work. I think the additional author really kept it from getting too disorganized and wordy.

The book builds on the themes in In Over Our Heads, and extends them to talk about how to grow as a person. The overall thesis is that people all interpret the world around them at different levels of complexity, and the levels of complexity are distinct and different from each other. The higher your own level of complexity can be, the more productive and happ
Jens Rinnelt
Kegan and Laslow present a method for transformation that addresses the human side. Many change initiatives on a personal or collective level fail because the change is treated technically. We just have to learn new skills and then change will follow. In my experience, many times people know what their situation is, they know what they should be doing and they have good intentions, but they fall back to old patterns nevertheless and little change is achieved. It feels like one foot is on the gas ...more
Garland Vance
If you love books about personal development and love books about organizational change, this book will probably be in your sweet spot. The premise is this: often the areas of our life that we want to change are inadvertently sabotaged by our own emotional, unconscious assumptions about ourselves and the world. Using a four-step process, the authors help a person articulate their change goal, understand what they ware doing to fight against that goal, what fears are driving them toward those act ...more
Jan 12, 2016 rated it really liked it
I really appreciated Kegan's case study framework in approaching the problem of leadership. His dichotomy of identifying blocking issues into technical (ones that require a persistence of execution) and adaptive problems (ones that require a systems thinking approach to identify conflicting values) was helpful both in the office, and in the home. Highly recommended for those interested in applied emotional intelligence. ...more
Aug 12, 2012 rated it it was amazing
I read this as part of a leadership institute I attended and believe that this book and core concepts should be integrated in all teacher preparation, instructional coaching professional development, and educational leadership programs. It is an enlightening philosophy of the structures we protect in our blind efforts to resist change.
Jun 27, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: business
Some good information, some good insights, but my experiences in executive coaching tell me that for most readers, it'd be a Grand Canyon-sized leap from grasping the model to using it well for change... ...more
Bob Tschannen-moran
Apr 15, 2009 rated it really liked it
Excellent review of why we don't do what we want to do, and do do what we don't want to do. Sounds like do do to me! :) ...more
Garrett Dukette
Jun 22, 2019 rated it liked it
Meh. Very repetitive.
Aug 20, 2011 rated it really liked it
Good book with some great insights as to why people don't change and how it can be facilitated. ...more
Dec 10, 2019 rated it really liked it
The authors start off defining this phrase "immunity to change" essentially as a condition or set of conditions that keep us from changing due to our inherent disposition to preserve our current paradigms.

The book goes through in great detail a process that the authors have used in working with individuals and their organizations. While the translation of those efforts does not make for the most flowed narrative, there are elements within I found helpful. For instance:

• The difference between le
Meeta Lee
Feb 16, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Mohammad Ali Abedi
Aug 28, 2017 rated it liked it
Okay, this is one of those books from business consultancy firms that has a bunch of training charts and how to go about them. I’m going to attempt to try them, because the idea behind them seems to make sense, even though as a book to just pick up and read, it’s severely lacking.

The basic thesis is that people fail to change because there are certain innate immunities to that particular change that we need to address first. To clarify more, even though there are certain things we want to change
David Baer
Aug 13, 2021 rated it did not like it
Shelves: dnf
Given the nature of my “professional” work, I thought this might be a valuable read. Big mistake. OK, rather, Small mistake, since I DNF’d around halfway through. “Twaddle” is a word that comes to mind.

Despite that the authors claim this book to be of value for change agents at any level, in reality, the focus is entirely on senior executive level dynamics in large-corporation environments. They have a way of spinning long chapters about how great their methods and results are, without giving y
Ruta Alb
Jan 30, 2022 rated it liked it
I "love" it how consultants always have the safety net. Usually when someone is suggesting a method they have this "if it didn't work for you, you didn't try hard enough" rule that they keep repeating. I found similar statements in this book as well. Otherwise, authors claim for this to be a miracle method to overcome your immunity to change. With that being said, I am sure that this book could be a marvelous inspiration for an individual in a huge crisis. And I'd like to stress here - the crisi ...more
Chris Weatherburn
Dec 28, 2019 rated it really liked it
Book focus is about overcoming change barriers and has exercises you can undertake to help understand the proposed method. The main suggestion is to analyse each change idea by using a table with the following four columns:

1. Commitment / Goal

2. Doing / Not doing instead

3. Hidden competing commitments / interests

4. Big assumptions

One of the first, most important things to do is to establish the correct thing to focus on and try to change, this needs to be a true high priority that requires chang
Oct 09, 2021 rated it liked it
Bit of a slog. Another corporate tool for leaders to diagnose and overcome the things holding them and their teams back. Some interesting approaches and theories about ways of thinking which I could pluck from for coaching, and some models to encourage people to interrogate their immunities to doing things differently. Stresses how behavioural change can only come through mindset change, otherwise you're attacking a problem in a technical way, not an adaptive way. I'm explaining it badly. But do ...more
Jul 05, 2019 rated it really liked it
Having just read In Over Our Heads, which was written by one of the two authors for this book, I was expecting another too long and overly theoretical tome. Instead, this one resonated as valuable, practical and worthy of deeper study. I just bought a copy of my own to be able to have time to use the exercises and return to them as needed. Immunity to Change is all about finding the hidden obstacles that keep us from making the changes we know we should make. If course to do that, we also have o ...more
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »

Readers also enjoyed

  • Leadership on the Line: Staying Alive Through the Dangers of Leading
  • The Fearless Organization: Creating Psychological Safety in the Workplace for Learning, Innovation, and Growth
  • Humble Inquiry: The Gentle Art of Asking Instead of Telling
  • The Outward Mindset: Seeing Beyond Ourselves
  • The Dance of Change: The challenges to sustaining momentum in a learning organization
  • Playing to Win: How Strategy Really Works
  • BE 2.0 (Beyond Entrepreneurship 2.0): Turning Your Business into an Enduring Great Company
  • The Thin Book of Trust: An Essential Primer for Building Trust at Work
  • Leading Change
  • The Price You Pay for College: An Entirely New Road Map for the Biggest Financial Decision Your Family Will Ever Make
  • The Sovereign Individual: Mastering the Transition to the Information Age
  • Overcoming the Five Dysfunctions of a Team: A Field Guide for Leaders, Managers, and Facilitators
  • Big Feelings: How to Be Okay When Things Are Not Okay
  • The Myths of Meritocracy : a revisionist history anthology
  • The Practice of Adaptive Leadership: Tools and Tactics for Changing Your Organization and the World
  • The Catalyst: How to Change Anyone's Mind
  • Make It Stick: The Science of Successful Learning
  • Strategy
See similar books…
See top shelves…

News & Interviews

Need another excuse to treat yourself to a new book this week? We've got you covered with the buzziest new releases of the day. To create our...
33 likes · 2 comments
“We uncovered a phenomenon we call “the immunity to change,” a heretofore hidden dynamic that actively (and brilliantly) prevents us from changing because of its devotion to preserving our existing way of making meaning.” 6 likes
“If you have wanted to lose ten pounds for ten years and a diet finally helps you do it, you might well assume you have accomplished your goal. But your goal actually isn’t to lose ten pounds. Many people (even you?) have lost ten pounds many times! The goal is to lose ten pounds and keep the weight off. Dieting doesn’t lead to weight loss that endures. For this we must join a change in behavior with a change in the way we think and feel—and in order to change the way we think and feel, we need to change our mindsets. When we are working on truly adaptive goals—ones that require us to develop our mindsets—we must continually convert what we learn from behavioral changes into changes in our mindsets.” 5 likes
More quotes…