Every summer I make time to read at least one novel. This summer I chose Diane Morris’s Rosings Park.
In the interest of full disclosure, Diane Morris has been my dearest friend for over 20 years. She is an accomplished technical writer and has published two university textbooks and numerous articles and other papers on nutrition. I was thrilled when I received a copy of her first novel, Rosings Park. I just knew it was going to be a great story. What I didn’t expect was to get a lesson in organizational change.
Rosings Park is the story of Anne de Bourgh, an aristocrat living in 19th century England and the heiress of Rosings Park—anyone familiar with Jane Austin’s book Pride and Prejudice may remember Anne as the lady Mr. Darcy was engaged to before he married Miss Elizabeth Bennett. I enjoyed getting to know Anne. She is strong and independent and refuses to conform to the societal expectations of women during that time in history.
Without giving away too much of the story, because I hope you will read the book, Anne hires a new steward to manage the business operations of Rosings Park and its many tenants. He is smart, innovative and eager to implement the new ideas he discussed with Anne during the hiring process. He believes these new ideas will help Rosings Park be more profitable, provide a better environment for the tenants and enable the estate to grow. Sound familiar? Anne is also keen for change, but unlike her new steward, who wants to charge full speed ahead and push the changes through, Anne responds like a skilled change leader.
She assesses the magnitude and impact of the proposed changes on the tenants and reflects on their history with change—the changes that have failed and those that have been successful. She also works to gain an understanding of their readiness for change. Then, she engages the tenants in the change, visiting them and talking about the need for change, listening to their concerns and understanding the current environment. In general she begins preparing them for the changes that are needed.
We tend to talk about the speed of change, its uncertainty and the discomfort like it is unique to today’s world. Rosings Park reminded me that organizational change is not new, and it may even have been more difficult when people perceived the world as stable. It also reminded me that an organization’s success with change depends on having skilled change leaders. Leaders, like Anne, that are willing to take the time to prepare their employees for change and support them throughout the transition.
If you are looking to add another book to your reading list or need a book for your book club check out Rosings Park. It’s an enjoyable and fun read into a time not so long ago, and who knows what unexpected insights it may hold for you.
Dr. Dawn-Marie Turner
Helping leaders successfully navigate the complexities of organizational change
The Living and Leading Change program.can help you become a skilled change leader.