Essential Reading for Change Agents

Book recommendations from John Kiser and Elizabeth Gibson-Meier, two battle-scarred change agents who helped turn around Best Buy.

“Sustainable change must take place on three levels: the head, the heart, and the hands. The people leading and experiencing change must understand their role in the change initiative, they must work through their internal resistance to the change, and they must hone the skills needed to make that change take form.”


That three-pronged approach guided John Kiser’s company, Best Buy, through a major change initiative that lasted more than three years and touched the lives of 30,000 store employees, regional managers, and senior executives. During Fast Company’s recent TalentLabs event in Boston, Kiser — along with Elizabeth Gibson-Meier of RHR Consulting — explained how Best Buy’s Change Implementation Team helped more than 350 stores nationwide introduce a new retail-operating platform designed to reinvent everything from delivery systems to customer service. They also illustrated how the company advanced through its change evolution — from head to heart to hands to victory.

Kiser and Gibson-Meier suggested that every revolution must begin with the eyes and the ears before it can move on to the head, the heart, and the hands. Potential change insurgents must stockpile advice, resources, and best practices in anticipation of the tumult ahead.

Following is a list of books — nourishment for the eyes and for the ego — recommended by Kiser and Gibson-Meier, two battle-scarred change agents with one large victory under their collective belt.


Communicating Change: How to Win Employee Support for New Business Directions
by Sandar Larkin, T. J. Larkin
McGraw-Hill (April 1994)

Getting Things Done When You Are Not in Charge: How to Succeed from a Support Position
by Geoffrey M. Bellman
Berrett-Koehler (September 1992)

Influence Without Authority
by Allan R. Cohen, David L. Bradford, David F. Bradford
John Wiley & Sons (August 1991)


The Leader’s Change Handbook: An Essential Guide to Setting Direction and Taking Action
by Jay Alden Conger, Gretchen M. Spreitzer, Edward E. Lawler III
Jossey-Bass (November 1998)

Lightning in a Bottle: Proven Lessons for Leading Change
by David H. Baum
Dearborn Trade (June 2000)

Shaping the Adaptive Organization: Landscapes, Learning, and Leadership in Volatile Times
by William E. Fulmer
AMACOM (March 2000)


Terms of Engagement: Changing the Way We Change Organizations
by Richard H. Axelrod
Berrett-Koehler (May 2000)

You can contact Elizabeth Gibson-Meier by email (

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