The Change Masters Book Summary By Rosabeth Moss Kanter

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The Change Masters by Rosabeth Moss Kanter takes a deep dive into the world of American corporate structure in the 1980s.

By conducting an intensive research project, she identified key components that bring about change and innovation within these organizations.

In this seminal book, Kanter looks at how an organization can be structured to make it more apt to changes.

She outlines her findings and breaks them down in clear terms so that readers can understand why and how specific adaptations need to happen for successful organizational growth.

It's an insightful look at the business landscape during a time of swift transformation, which is just as applicable today as it was then.

The Change Masters Book

Book Name: The Change Masters (Innovation and Entrepreneurship in the American Corporation)

Author(s): Rosabeth Moss Kanter

Rating: 4/5

Reading Time: 20 Minutes

Categories: Management & Leadership

Author Bio

Rosabeth Moss Kanter is an authoritative figure in the world of business and change management.

She's a sociology professor, as well as a Management Professor, at Harvard Business School.

This makes her a frequently sought-after expert for consulting on issues such as leadership strategy, change management and innovation.

She's also the first woman to have been awarded an endowment chair at Harvard Business School, further highlighting her status as an esteemed academic and figure of authority in the field of business.

For anyone looking to learn more about leading organizational change and other key aspects of managing successful businesses, The Change Masters by Rosabeth Moss Kanter is an excellent starting point.

How To Create An Adaptable Company: Unlocking The Keys To Innovation Through Good Communication, Fluid Job Titles, And Cross-Departmental Collaboration

Good Communication

If you want to create an innovative, adaptive company, then you have to know why it is so important for your company to embrace change.

Rosabeth Moss Kanter has studied American Fortune 500 companies and found that there are certain factors which contribute to a company’s ability to change such as good communication, fluid job titles and cross-departmental collaborations.

In the sections of The Change Masters, you’ll discover what makes a company truly open to change.

Good communication is essential; when done right, it allows teams to share their ideas and encourages collaboration.

Having fluid job titles ensures that employees can move around freely, while cross-departmental collaborations promote problem solving and keep ideas flowing.

Working together helps build trust within the team while also protecting the project from outside influences.

So remember: if you want a company that embraces change and stays ahead of competition, then learn what makes it open to changes – good communication and collaboration between all departments.

The Danger Of Becoming Too Comfortable With A Success Formula: How Staying Stuck In The Status Quo Is Holding Companies Back

Collaboration and innovation can be stifled when traditional organizations rely too heavily on their success formulas.

This happens because once a business has got over its initial challenges, it typically forms a formula for how the organization should be run.

It might explain things such as production techniques or the company’s structure, but if this is all stays the same, then growth may become limited.

This problem was highlighted in research conducted by the author on a textile manufacturer.

It had been dealing with continuous yarn breakage since it began operating.

But instead of trying to fix it, the owners simply accepted it as part of running their business.

However, when a new plant manager joined he found a way to improve things – not only did he work on employee communication but he also asked about production ideas from those who worked for him and one employee came up with an idea that could reduce breakage.

He’d had this idea for years but hadn’t shared it until someone asked him about it directly – showing that while success formulas may have worked in the past they can often impede innovation and growth when taken too far.

Segmentalism Stifles Innovation: How Segmentalist Organizations Squash Creativity And Foster Bureaucracy

Segmentalist organizations stifle innovation by confining employees to narrow, clearly demarcated roles.

This type of organizational structure prevents people from taking creative approaches to problem-solving.

Even when employees have well thought out and valuable ideas, the hierarchical composition of segmentalism-based organizations holds them back.

These businesses don’t offer a chance or motivation for individuals or departments to share their creative spark with other members of the team.

The outcome is that true innovation that could propel the business forward never surfaces.

It may also lead to certain departments competing against each other as they scramble over resources – thus preventing them from addressing challenges in new ways and risking any sort of change in their system.

This kind of innovation drought has even been seen in areas like training line workers; one manufacturing company had difficulty sourcing the necessary computers required for a more effective training period due to bureaucratic and departmental obstacles.

If you want your organization succeed, then it’s time for a shift away from intense segmentalism with its limited job definitions and intimidating hierarchies so that employees can collaborate without fear of losing power or resources – this will open up possibilities for novel approaches instead.

Why Open-Ended Projects Foster Innovation In Integrative Organizations

Integrative Organizations

Integrative companies have complex organizational structures that foster collaboration.

This is essential to fostering innovation as it allows people to step outside their usual roles and use their different mindsets and areas of expertise in creative ways.

One way to do this is through a matrix organization which vertical integrates the different departments and processes across the company, such as product design, production, and sales into one common goal – creating products that sell well.

This encourages departments to work together rather than seperately for maximum efficiency and effectiveness.

In addition, employees need open-ended project assignments so that they have the freedom to decide how they will reach goals rather than just adhering to command.

The example of one medical company proves this point – they allowed freedom to its manufacturing manager who was tasked with creating a new device.

His design eventually went into production and was a great success.

In conclusion, integrative organizations provide complex organizational structures that are beneficial for encouraging collaboration between team members as well as instilling creativity from unique perspectives.

To Foster Innovation, Organizations Need Access To Information, Resources And Support

Creating innovation is a complex task that requires more than just access to information, resources and support.

These three commodities are essential for enabling ideas to be developed or implemented successfully in an organization.

The Change Masters by Peter Drucker examines the crucial role of information, resources and support in enabling successful innovation.

The book explores examples from leading innovators such as 3M, Wang Laboratories, and Chipco which maintain open communication systems where people of all levels can suggest new ideas or criticism.

When it comes to resources, companies like 3M have established ‘innovation banks’ which enable their employees to get hold of the funds for new projects without having to jump through too many hoops.

Furthermore, employees need to be supported with endorsements when they pursue their projects – something that can be achieved through rotational career moves from one job to another.

By facilitating free flow of information as well as obtaining access to important resources and providing much-needed support – companies are able to effectively create innovative products and services that make an impact on the marketplace.

It is clear then that these three components are ever so necessary when it comes down to creating a culture of innovation within an organization.

How To Achieve The Right Balance Of Power Circulation And Focus In Your Organization

While it is true that an organization needs power circulation in order to encourage creativity and innovation, too much of it can also be detrimental.

Power circulation can cause workers to jump from project to project without finishing any of them.

A balance between power circulation and focus must be struck in order for successful projects to take shape.

General Electric Medical Systems provides a great example of the importance of balancing power circulation with focus.

Their headquarters oversees their important projects while also giving decentralised control, allowing workers autonomy and space for innovative ideas to take form.

This even allows them to quickly let go of dead-end ideas if need be, in favour of ones that are more promising.

To ensure success, it’s important for an organization not to completely dissolve its power but instead loosen it temporarily.

This balance between freedom and an overarching structure enables teams and employees to develop their own strategies within agreed bounds, preventing segmentalism and mismanagement problems that can arise due to an unchecked flow of power circulation.

How To Bring Innovative Ideas To Life In An Organization: Building A Network Of Supporters, Getting Cheerleaders, And More


Before you start a project, it’s important to gather information, get support and spread the word.

The first step towards this is understanding your mission and crafting a goal-oriented project definition.

Then it’s time to start collecting information from within the organization – or “neighborhood” of your job.

Hewlett Packard refers to this as management by walking around; it involves speaking with people to collect information and ideas that will help develop the project further.

Building a network can also be beneficial when mobilizing resources for your project.

It’s important to have people supporting you so you can get sufficient time, money, influence and/or information in order to take action on your idea.

It’s helpful too to have cheerleaders, who are people in lower positions than yourself willing to back up your mission and provide unwavering support towards accomplishing it.

At General Electric this is referred to as “loading the gun,” whereas at other companies it’s sometimes known as “tin-cupping.”

Having the resources and supporters in place will set you up for success when driving your venture all the way home.

How To Deal With Unnecessary Criticism As A Project Manager

As a project manager, it is your job to make sure that your team members don’t get distracted by external problems or noise.

When criticism or interference comes from other parts of the organization, it can hurt the focus and confidence of your team and create negative energy that can really derail progress.

Tom West, a project leader from Data General, had this situation when he was managing a new computer design project.

He and his managers had an unspoken agreement to not pass on any of the external issues or company politics and instead focus only on the primary goal at hand.

This allowed him to keep his team unaware of any negative comments and stay focused on just their specific project tasks.

Bypassing distraction in this manner is key for achieving success when other people outside the project try to interfere with your strategy.

As a leader, you must remind everyone involved of how important it is to stay focused on the organization’s overall goals and vision.

Additionally, you should be prepared to defend your work by citing company values as needed – something like: “This project is directly connected to our highest mantra: don’t be evil”.

Motivate Your Team And Preserve Momentum By Utilizing Team-Building Strategies

When it comes to keeping a project running smoothly and maintaining its momentum, team-building skills are essential.

Without a sense of involvement and appreciation, your team members won’t be motivated and this can affect the success of your project.

One way to keep everyone involved is by having them meet regularly.

This keeps everyone up-to-date on all the developments within the project so they don’t get left behind.

Furthermore, you can also prevent things from getting mundane by having executives come by for visits or send status reports about the project progress to stakeholders.

This reminds everyone that the work they are doing is important and has value – which will likely increase morale and productivity levels.

Finally, be sure to recognize your team’s hard work – praise them in meetings, share rewards they receive, or mention their successes to those higher up in the company.

This will help each team member individually as well as make them feel motivated to strive for more!

The Benefits Of Teamwork Come With Limits: Knowing When To Rely On Group Participation Or Go It Alone


Not every corporate problem can be solved by teamwork, even if participation and collaboration are essential attributes of innovative organizations.

After studying a company that used the term “task force” to regulate policy on participation, it was discovered that sometimes too much teamwork and meetings can actually be counterproductive.

Even with issues that require teamwork, it appears unilateral decisions are often more effective than group participation.

The author found teams work best when they’re assigned to proactively address change – from assessing issues in unique ways to providing support and discussing new ideas.

However, if one person clearly has more expertise on a subject than everyone else and their knowledge is accepted as valid, then additional deliberation isn’t needed to make a decision.

Teamwork also doesn’t need to happen when participants have nothing to contribute or don’t care about the problem.

It’s often best for employees to work solo since projects have limited timeframes or their productivity increases when no one is looking over their shoulder.

Additionally, if employees start disliking going into taskforces with regularity then it could mean team activities become a hindrance instead of being beneficial Overall , teamwork is just another tool – it doesn’t always need to be employed.

Creating An Organization Ready For Change: The Secret To A Successful Change Master

It’s impossible for a company to fully embrace change without the belief from its employees that it is actually possible.

This is an important lesson that is highlighted in The Change Masters book.

Without the trust of the individuals within an organization, there is no chance that they will be motivated to embrace change.

Take General Electric’s Vice President, who said if your company isn’t ready for innovation, all the great ideas won’t break into the market.

It serves as a reminder that a strong corporate culture and mindset towards embracing new possibilities are needed for successful changes to take place.

To put this into practice, look at the example of how a plant manager at Honeywell managed to start implementing quality circles in his department.

He was initially met with resistance from his staff due to past broken promises regarding improvements from previous management – proof that trust had to be established first before he could actually make changes.

After making good on those promises, his employees began to understand that change was possible and they got on board with his new initiatives.

In conclusion, true trust needs to exist between colleagues before a company can make any effective changes – it’s essential for progress and growth!

The Power Of Honest Histories: Why Companies Need To Show How They’Ve Changed Over Time

Honest Histories

The way a company tells its story has a huge impact on how it views change.

The author found that companies that are resistant to change tend to ignore or downplay their past changes and pretend like nothing much has shifted since day one.

Those that embrace change, on the other hand, openly talk about how they have changed over the years.

This is important because when people can see in the past how they’ve adapted to changing business conditions, it prepares them for future change.

They become more comfortable with proposing new ideas and recognize that progress can only be made if modifications are made today.

At the same time, this paints an overly rosy portrait of change-history may go through some alterations so that any drama around opposition or controversy is minimized or even omitted entirely.

This wrong understanding of what it takes for meaningful change leads employees to give up on their ideas before even trying because they think projects should always be accepted easily – which is often not true!

It’s clear then: companies who genuinely embrace progress should bring transparency into their tracking of changes and encourage open conversations about difficult projects from start to finish.

Doing this will foster courage among the workforce in pursuing innovative projects despite initial objections or disagreement – which is exactly what successful businesses rely on!

Wrap Up

The Change Masters is an important book that encourages innovation in the workplace by teaching people how to decentralize power and promote flexibility among employees.

It suggests that giving people some amount of autonomy when developing ideas can help prevent segmentalism and encourage new ideas.

At the same time, it’s important for companies to maintain an overseeing structure to help with strategic planning and ensure projects are heading in the right direction.

This allows for a balance between granting employees freedom while still having an overarching control over the company’s goals.

In short, The Change Masters provides readers with practical advice on how to foster a culture of innovation through empowerment and openness, while also having an overarching structure to support new ideas.

Arturo Miller

Hi, I am Arturo Miller, the Chief Editor of this blog. I'm a passionate reader, learner and blogger. Motivated by the desire to help others reach their fullest potential, I draw from my own experiences and insights to curate blogs.

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