This blog used to be views on various things. But in all these years, I find it going a whole new direction.
Something which I have loved all the time. It's BOOKS!! So, presenting a whole new saga, of books and a little about them, whatever I can find, write, visualise and imagine...
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Thursday, May 11, 2017
Author Interview : Lalit Jagtiani, author of ‘When Change Happens… A Story of Organisational Transformation’
Read up, the Interview with Lalit Jagtiani, author of 'When Change Happens... A Story of Organisational Transformation' This interview consists of how
the book actually happened, what the core idea was, how he managed to blend the
entire story with the real subject, which particular character the author feels
most close to, how he relates the book and its characters to day to day
lives, the most challenging and fulfilling parts of the book were, the next
book he has planned, today and much, much more, Folks...
How did ‘When
Change Happens… A Story of Organisational Transformation’ happen?
current role at SAP, I travel across Asia Pacific for my customer
engagements. As a matter of principle, I do not work
on customer documents or email on the airports and flights since you do not
know if the person seated beside you is a competitor or the competitor of your
customer. Therefore, with much time on my hands and little to occupy my mind
the book was born.
The long waits and the airport and the flights become much shorter
in my mind. The play back of my experiences also
helped me to structure the dormant insights that I had into a more tangible context.
This has helped me personally sharpen my skills and in the process I have also
created an interesting story that the readers can enjoy and connect with their
How did you bring out your personal story and blend it into the
During the engagements with my customers, I would intuitively try
out an intervention. Later, I would sit back and reflect, as to why it worked and
what some insights were that I had gained. I did this primarily to better my
While these notes were valuable to me, I realised that by
themselves they would be very dry and not make for good reading. This is where I decided to make a creative leap and create a
story with these insights embedded in the context that was real, but the
organisation was fictional.
This way I could preserve the confidentiality of my customers, where these events
took place and more importantly it would be easier for a reader to
contextualise and consume.
Therefore, the entire story is in the backdrop of a fictional
organisation and I have deliberately been very ambiguous of the industry that
fictional company belongs to. These events can occur in any company. Each of the situations,
the character encounters are real but they are all not from one specific
The creative input in the book was, in
putting these different situations into one seamless story and balancing the
content with the narrative in the story to keep it engaging and relevant at the
What kind of research did you put into the writing of this book?
The conceptual inputs have been from the books, trainings
and certifications that I have picked up over the 30 years of my professional
career. The research has
emerged from my practical experiences in driving successful Change Management
projects at my customers across Asia Pacific.
The notes that I had made, post each of these engagements
were the source material that I used in compiling my insights. Therefore, the research is not interview
based or opinion based but a collection of my own experiences on achieving
success across multiple industries and geographies.
What according to you is different about your book?
As a practitioner of Business Transformation,
I have come across some excellent methods and tools on Change Management. The
challenge for me has been in the application of the methods and tools.
The limitations of prescriptive tools are that Organizations do
not follow the prescribed path of a planned transformation.Every organization that I have engaged with,
across Asia Pacific and across various industries, has a unique characteristic
and culture. Therefore, I have found that there is no
prescribed way that can be universally applied. This therefore, limits the
usefulness of these tools and methods.
The draw back of case studies are that they are limited by the
confidentiality of the inside workings of the organisation and they are
prescriptive in terms of learnings. This works if the situations, in other
organizations are similar, but that is rarely the case. The culture, political dynamics, power structures etc. are very
different. Therefore their relevance is limited. That is why despite the rich
amount of literature that is available on the subject of Change, success rate
of Business Transformations in organisations is less than 40%.
It is in these lacunae in which, I discovered a need and decided to write the book that
essentially is a collection of my 20 years of insights and tacit experiences in
a story that takes the readers on an adventure of Change Management.
What I have attempted to do in the book
is share the real story of how a change management initiative is delivered in
an organisation bringing out the challenges in the form of an experiential
narrative but kept the organisational context fictional to preserve the
confidentiality of the multiple organisations the situations are derived from.
The narrative is based on experiences as seen through the lens of
the protagonist. During his assignment as a Change
Management coach, he encounters the politics of his peers, fights for building
his credibility in a complex, matrix organisation, overcomes scepticism on the
work he is doing and even falls in love with one of his colleagues!
I have deliberately kept it Industry agnostic
because in my experience, the nature of the challenges that I have included in
the book are the same no matter the industry.
How did you come up with the core idea and develop it?
Unfortunately, the practice of Change Management has been a
much-abused science. Inexperienced practitioners have peddled a set of communication
templates and made the practice into a checklist of activities, the completion
of which signifies a successful change program!
Transformation is as much an art as it is a science. Experience,
wisdom and tenacity are components that are often needed to execute these
Often a practitioner encounters challenges and situations that
require him to delve deep into his repository of experiences and skills. These are never visible to those benefitting from these
capabilities. And, there is very little literature that I have found that
provides insights on this tacit knowledge.
The core ideas came from my notes and
experience that I, then constructed into the story.
How would you relate the book and its characters to your day to day
Each of the characters in the book is drawn from real characters
that I have personally engaged with. I have deliberately used Hollywood actor and generic names for
each of them to preserve their identity and to respect their privacy.
Some of the characters have been deliberately been mixed up to
ensure that the character and the person that I engaged with, in that situation
are different. This is one more layer of masking that I have used since this is
not intended to be a biographical novel.
Which particular character do you feel most close to? Why?
However, there is much dissimilarity as well; the love story is personal
to the character and not to me. There are other nuances that personally do not
reflect on the way, I react but based on how I have experienced others behave.
Could you tell the readers about your experiences and how it was
related to what you wrote?
My experiences are reflected in all the situations that the
protagonist encounters therefore they are all over the book.
What is the most fulfilling part of writing this book? And what is
the most challenging?
R Gopalakrishnan (from SPJIMR
The most fulfilling for me has the wonderful feedback that I have
getting from the readers of the book. The best one of them from Mr R Gopalakrishnan, Director, TATA Sons Ltd, at the launch
of 'When Change Happens…' in Mumbai, where he mentions that ‘to combine 4,000 years
of story-telling and write a book that simplifies a complex topic and provokes
questions rather than providing answers is the mark of a potentially good book’.There are otherreviewsin the preamble of the book and each one of them provides me
with immense satisfaction.
The biggest challenge is to reach all the
relevant audiences that can relate and apply these insights to their current
challenges in managing Change. It is in the application that I see the real
value that this book can provide.
Do you have a next book planned? If so, what would it be?
Other than my own book on 'Digital Innovation', I have been in conversations with
various professionals that have driven successful change management initiatives
and I am looking to use a similar format to convert their experiences to a
Who was it that told you that you could become the author, you are
Story writing is not new to me. In addition to my MBA, I have a
diploma in film making. In the early stages in life, I used to make ad films
and corporate videos.
But the real inspiration and encouragement came to me from my wife and
life-partner Minal, who encouraged me to express my ideas. She was my first
reader and critic of the content.
Her contribution to supporting the entire process till the
publication and now marketing of the book has been invaluable.
Eliyahu M Goldratt
Who are your favourite authors and why?
Eliyahu M Goldratt, the management guru. He was the first author
that I read, who wrote in the Business Novel format that I used in this book.
I remember my professor in Operations Research class
mentioned that I would be one of the students that would never complete my MBA,
since I would fail his class.
The book written by Goldratt helped me grasp the concept of ‘Theory of Constraints’ so well, that I went on to excel in this topic. It is then that
I realised the power of management by story-telling and how this would be useful
in not only simplifying complex topics, but enable better understanding through
I am currently working
with SAP and am based in Singapore.
In my current role, I am a Digital Thought Leader working with customers across
Asia Pacific to enable them to succeed in their Digital Transformation.
With my passion for making films, I have recently launched a video series titled 1 Minute on Change, where
I have interviewed CXOs on their experiences in driving successful change.
I am also a Board Member of the Society of Organisation
Learning in Singapore and we are working on building awareness on
Sustainability, which is a cause that I deeply care about.
I am also
a Mentor for Start-ups and one of them is moving into the pilot phase this year.
Weekends and evenings,
I like to cycle and I also play a bit of Badminton and Tennis.