Parachuting Cats into Borneo – and Other Lessons from the Change Café offers the reader a complete Master Class of tools and approaches for promoting positive change, in the form of an easy-to-read business book.
The book has been drawing praise and endorsements from reviewers the world over, including Unilever CEO Paul Polman, German social scientist Ortwin Renn, former African Union Commissioner Bience Gawanas, and green business guru Joel Makower, among many others (see below). Publisher’s Weekly in the US called it “a shrewd and discerning look at systemic change” that was “insightful” and “particularly valuable” — both for making change happen and dealing with daily work life.
Parachuting Cats into Borneo takes its name from an historic, cautionary tale about what can go wrong: about two-thirds of efforts to make positive change in organizations and institutions end up in failure, according to studies cited in the book. Klimek and AtKisson bring over fifty years of combined experience to the table, to help readers avoid common obstacles and equip themselves for greater success.
While aiming to support positive change of all kinds, the authors build on decades of experience working with the special problems of sustainability transformation in companies, governments, cities and institutions. Sustainability has been an especially valuable learning arena, note Klimek and AtKisson, “because achieving [sustainability] requires altering some very deeply embedded human habits, concepts, and attitudes.” The closing chapters are devoted to building capacity for leading change in one of the most demanding, and increasingly essential, challenges of our time: making sustainability real.
If you would like a review copy for a publication or for an organizational bulk order, please contact the Center for Sustainability Transformation (CforST.com).
EARLY REVIEWS FOR PARACHUTING CATS INTO BORNEO
by Axel Klimek and Alan AtKisson, Chelsea Green Publishing, 2016
“A fascinating account of the cultural, psychological, and institutional barriers that prevent more change programs from succeeding – and how to overcome them.”
–Paul Polman, CEO, Unilever
“I’ve been waiting for this book, from these gentlemen, for years. Decades of distilled experience, insight, wisdom, guidance, and delight about engaging the most challenging parts of change―people and groups of people. (Technological innovation is simple by comparison.) Only one in three change initiatives succeed, the authors tell us. This little book, and the thoughtful systems and tools it offers, might just help you boost your odds.”
–Gil Friend, chairman and CEO, Natural Logic, Inc.
“Parachuting Cats into Borneo takes change management off the white board and places it into your own hands―inviting you into a café conversation with the authors, who put together a thoughtful collection of practical tools that I found valuable even after 25 years in the sustainability and social change field. Grab a pen and some paper (and a coffee!). This book will take you on a thought journey, best when you have a change process and goal in mind. And who doesn’t?”
–Gillian Martin Mehers, managing director, Bright Green Learning; coauthor of The Climate Change Playbook
“Welcome to the world café―where it’s raining, well, cats. Axel Klimek and Alan AtKisson are hosting. Slow down, relax, and prepare to change the way you think about change.”
–John Elkington, co-founder, Environmental Data Services (ENDS), SustainAbility, and Volans; coauthor of The Breakthrough Challenge
“We live in times of continuous accelerating change―as I have personally experienced―and yet we have difficulty adapting to it. That’s human nature: We like the comfort of stability and predictability. Here Klimek and AtKisson draw a short and very easy-to-read roadmap for implementing sustainable change. A great effort and recommended reading.”
–Nani Falco Beccalli, former President and CEO, GE Europe
“Change is difficult, and usually takes time, but this book gave me hope that change will happen, whatever time it takes, and guided me through the appropriate sequence of steps I should take to achieve my mission―slowly but steadily. The book presents a combination of concern, determination, and faith: concern about people and nature, the determination to continue the path, and the faith that what we are doing is right. I received this book on June 11 and started reading it the morning of June 12. I powered off my mobile, and I went on reading ‘til the afternoon of June 13. At that time I discovered that it was my birthday; I think that this book was the best birthday present I had this year!”
–Boshra Salem, director, Office of International Relations, Alexandria University; member, Women in Science Hall of Fame (Egypt)
“Parachuting Cats into Borneo is a great guidebook for leaders and individuals who want to create transformational changes in any society, community, organization, workspace, or family they are a part of. The authors have done a great job illuminating not only the most up-to-date ‘skills and knowledge’ on change processes, such as a system approach and coaching, but also ‘attitude and being,’ or how leaders can develop themselves and cultivate organizational cultures. I have been using these approaches in Japan and elsewhere in the world, and they have proven to be effective in work for many clients across sectors.”
–Riichiro Oda, president and CEO, Change Agent, Inc. (Japan)
“The one thing we all have more and more of is CHANGE, and we all need to become more skillful in navigating through it. Klimek and AtKisson are great companions to have with you on your change journey, providing guidance, great stories, and good company.”
–Peter Hawkins, Professor of Leadership, Henley Business School; chairman, Renewal Associates (UK)
“This book is a must for anyone who is involved in change processes toward a more equitable, humane, and environmentally friendly world. It is not the usual ‘how to do and get what you want’ instruction book. No recipes, no safe or proven success guidelines, no software program for making changes happen! It is a book about personal and group empowerment. It orients readers to become agents of change based on their own resources and their own creative ideas. And all this for a common purpose: to reach a more sustainable future for all.”
–Ortwin Renn, scientific director, Institute for Advanced Sustainability Studies (Germany)
“Parachuting Cats is a small book with a really big bag of tools for the change agent’s toolkit―describing how, when, and where each can best be used. Some are tools for personal change that make one a more effective change agent; others are tools for helping organizations and communities create lasting change. Highly recommend for all sustainability professionals or anyone working to make the world a better place. I could and will reread this book at least ten times and get more out of it each time.”
–Maureen Hart, executive director, International Society of Sustainability Professionals (USA)
“An apparently endless stream of conferences and workshops is applauding the big transformation toward sustainable development. And is tiring. Real action is not following suit. I see a growing disconnect between advocacy and personal behavior (and the behavior of advocates’ home institutions). Yet never before has humankind been in a better position to successfully end hunger and poverty within the limits of ecological boundaries. Never before have there been so many experts and campaigners dedicated to making this planet a better place. But, strangely enough, all this does not yet deliver. Action is often halted. Advanced thinking is often restricted to special interest groups. Experts are arguing within the boundaries of their own unconnected communities. That is why this book is timely. The authors bridge change attitudes on the personal level and the structural level. They help us understand (and change) the patterns of our very habitudes―and, fortunately, they never forget the importance of changing vested interests and political structures in a democratic society. Absorbing Klimek and AtKisson’s recommendations has added value to both my thinking and acting.”
–Günther Bachmann, secretary general, German Council for Sustainable Development; advisor to the Global Network of National Councils for Sustainable Development
“Spanning change management, leadership, strategy, and spirituality, Klimek and AtKisson’s volume is an indispensable guide for current and would-be sustainability leaders.”
–Michael Kobori, vice president of sustainability, Levi Strauss & Co.
“Parachuting Cats offers a deep dive into what it takes for our economies and our families to flourish within Earth’s finite limits. For all the attention paid to technologies, policies, leadership, and ‘corporate social responsibility,’ creating the change we want to see in the world means understanding how societies and institutions transform. In the end, it’s the system, stupid, that needs transforming. Klimek and AtKisson tell us how to do that. This is a vital read for our turbulent times.”
–Joel Makower, chairman and executive editor, GreenBiz Group; coauthor of The New Grand Strategy
“Many of us need to change ourselves or to bring about change through our work but always get stuck in a rut because we need confirmation to do the right thing. This book helps us enter into conversations to see within and around us and to make that so-needed transformation.”
–Bience Gawanas, former commissioner for Social Affairs, African Union
“As a funder, I was drawn to organizations that had both a clear vision for the future and an approach to the inevitable difficulties of change. If this valuable toolkit had been around, I would have sent a copy with every grant check.”
–David Grant, former president and CEO, Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation; author of The Social Profit Handbook