August 25, 2010
Contact: University Relations
"Change doesn't flow top-down, bottom-up, or sideways, but inside-out. Real change happens because people want it to happen; they are engaged. Without engagement, you are left with two alternatives: force and failure. There are occasions when force works, but they aren't pretty."
So says Seth Kahan, acclaimed author and organizational consultant, in a discussion on how leaders must think of change as an inclusive, interactive process if it is to be viewed as a successful, positive endeavor. Kahan, author of the recent Getting Change Right: How Leaders Transform Organizations from the Inside Out as well as blogs at Fast Company and the Washington Post, will appear at the University of Baltimore on Tuesday, Sept. 21 at 6:30 p.m. as part of the Merrick School of Business Speaker Series. (Attendance details below.)
Kahan, who has worked with organizations as far-ranging as the Peace Corps, the World Bank and the Goddard Space Flight Center, encourages those who seek change to listen closely to those around them, and to involve them in real ways in the achievement of the goal of transformation.
"When the right people are having the right conversations and interactions, they act in concert, even when the situations they confront are unpredictable," Kahan said on his website.
Reviewers have reacted positively to the book's core messages:
"Getting Change Right reveals how big change happens fast by engaging with people and creating conversations that cascade through the organization, igniting widespread energy and enthusiasm," said Stephen Denning, author of The Leader's Guide to Storytelling and The Secret Language of Leadership.
His live presentations have received similar praise:
"Seth Kahan's community building and storytelling skills are enabling us to jump start organization culture change at NASA Goddard Space Flight Center," said Gail S. Williams, manager of Goddard's Leadership Alchemy Program.
Kahan, who also wrote Building Beehives: A Handbook for Creating Communities that Generate Returns as well as a number of other publications, uses his blogposts to convey steppingstone ideas for affecting and managing organizational reforms. In response to last summer's Gulf of Mexico oil spill and BP's public response, he wrote:
"Mistakes are part and parcel of leadership and human endeavor. Rather than avoid them, even those that are grand and public, strive for continuous improvement and know that blemishes are part of the process."
The audience at Kahan's Sept. 21 appearance at the Speaker Series will be challenged to approach organizational change in a whole new way. He will present a critical philosophical shift from status quo to authentic change through engagement and his talk will identify techniques to help implement change. Those attending the event will have an opportunity to attend an exclusive book signing with Kahan immediately following his talk.
Tickets are $20 each for the general public and UB faculty and staff, and are available online here. All current University of Baltimore students will receive free admission to this event. UB students are advised to register for the event by sending an e-mail to email@example.com from their ubalt.edu account (please include your name and student ID number; one ticket per student; availability on a first come-first serve basis).
This is the eighth event in the Speaker Series. It debuted in April 2009 with a talk by Muhammad Yunus, Nobel Peace Prize winner and founder of the Grameen Bank. More information about past speakers is available here.
The University of Baltimore is a member of the University System of Maryland and comprises the School of Law, the Yale Gordon College of Arts and Sciences, the College of Public Affairs and the Merrick School of Business.