Book Review: Immunity to Change

Immunity to Change 
How to Overcome it and Unlock the Potential in Yourself and Your Organization 

I’ve read a lot of books on change and spent thousands of dollars on learning change processes over the years. None of them changed my life or the way I approach change like Immunity to Change. None.

I started to book with both anticipation and dread. Anticipation because it had the potential to be different. And dread that it would be like the other books I had read—interesting, but just a new spin on an already tried approach. Fortunately, authors Robert Kegan and Lisa Laskow Lahey delivered. They offer both a research-driven new viewpoint and a proven method to achieve lasting change.

A Three-Course Meal
The first part of the book covers their research journey and may read a bit dry for those of you that don’t geek out on psychology or adult development. The key point to take away is the research proved adult mental complexity and mindsets can evolve after the age of 20 (previously not believed to be true). It recounts their discovery of the immunity to change, a “hidden dynamic that actively (and brilliantly) prevents us from changing because of its devotion to preserving our existing way of making meaning.”[1]The book is essentially about overcoming this immunity and thus advancing our mental complexity and mindset to be more aware of our world perception and our ability to act the way we want to or choose to based on that evolved perception.

The second part walks the reader through, step-by-step, what they call the X-Ray, or immunity map. This is essentially the process one takes to identify an improvement goal, uncover the immunity to change in the individual or team, and ultimately walk out of change’s Valley of Death. They provide many examples from client workshops and show both individual and team maps and case studies. The positive impacts for individuals and companies using this process reveals new potential for making the change to improve their function.

Finally, the reader can walk through their own immunity map. The authors help you diagnose your immunity and get to work on your own change. The reader can take it one step further and facilitate change within their own organization. 

Ladies and Gentlemen of Any Adult Age: You CAN Change
Sure, it will take effort as the authors confirm. But you can. Keegan and Lahey have spent their entire careers proving change and have modernized the science around adult mental complexity and mindsets. Like Galileo proving the Earth wasn’t flat, Keegan and Lahey proved that adult mental complexity does not plateau and underline the end of adult learning at age 20. In fact, adult learning is dynamic according to the authors and using their immunity map too, has the potential to be leveled-up.

Even better, they outline a process that uncovers your personal or team’s immunity to change and the steps to overcome that change with a higher likelihood that you can maintain the change e.g., a new mindset and level of mental complexity where you may could not before. This is good news for those of us wanting to grow and live more engaged personal and professional lives.

A Good Read, An Excellent, Life-Changing Method 
The book starts slow outlining the research, but parts two and three serve as a practical implementation guide with lots of examples. The authors’ method in Immunity to Change is proven via their lifetime research efforts. Beyond that, it is a relatively fast tool to learn and implement, it easily accommodates personal or professional goals, individuals or teams, and it’s highly effective with thoughtful effort. I can personally vouch for that.




[1]Kegan, Robert, and Lisa Laskow Lahey. Immunity to Change: How to Overcome It and Unlock Potential in Yourself and Your Organization, Harvard Business Press, 2009, pp. x-x.



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