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Can Two Rights Make a Wrong?
Can Two Rights Make a Wrong? leverages the lessons learned during IBM's $3.5 billion acquisition of PricewaterhouseCoopers Consulting. Whether you're involved with M&As, joint ventures, major transformation, internal restructuring, or any other initiative where culture is important, this book can help you take culture from a worrisome risk to a competitive advantage.

Insights from IBM's Tangible Culture Approach. Also available in Chinese


"This is the book for people who never get past page two of a management book-it is as close as the genre comes to being a compulsive page turner. Its main thesis is built on at least three big ideas that are individually persuasive and cumulatively compelling. They naturally fit into an alignment tool that is applied to the range of day-to-day and exceptional challenges all enterprises face, including the Holy Grail of transformational change."
-Donald Macrae
General counsel and chief knowledge officer, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, England

"Having been in the business of cultural transformation and alignment for many years, I've carefully looked for a thoughtful strategy and an intentional approach to bringing about healthy and thriving cultures. Can Two Rights Make a Wrong? is simply the best-it is the most thoughtful and practical work I've seen in this growing and critical area. This is a must buy!"
-Dr. Ron Jenson
Future Achievement International, international author, speaker, and consulting and executive coach

"Can Two Rights Make a Wrong? is a superb account of how to manage the 'soft side' of mergers and acquisitions, but it has great value for managing many other new business practices as well, such as Open Innovation. It provides a powerful, practical method to identify conflicts, develop alignment, and achieve effective coordination between two parties that would be tremendously helpful in a variety of collaborative contexts, such as alliances, research partnerships, or joint ventures. Moulton Reger and her colleagues at IBM should be congratulated for a thoughtful, insightful book."
-Henry Chesbrough
Professor at University of California Berkeley's Haas School of Business, author of Open Innovation

"Numbers are neat and clean. Human beings are often messy and complex. If everyone in your organization knew what to do and when, how, where, and-most importantly-why to do it, how would your organizational culture be defined? The authors of Can Two Rights Make a Wrong? have introduced new ways to proactively address culture and, most importantly, tie it to bottom-line benefits."
-James H. Amos, Jr.
Chairman emeritus, MBE/The UPS Store

"This book is a must read for leaders hoping to change their organization's culture as well as those attempting to merge firms with uniquely different cultures. Moulton Reger's insights are grounded in theory and real-world experience. In this unique book, culture change is a complex concept broken down into bite-sized pieces and presented in a way that any leadership team can embrace at its own pace."
-Merrill J. Oster
Author of Vision Driven Leadership, founder Oster Communications, Inc.

"Here at last is a business book that takes culture seriously and isn't intimidated by it. The method described can be used with practically any type of business problem in any industry, and the book does an excellent job of drawing on research and theory while keeping the focus practical. The three elements of Outcome Narratives, Right vs. Right, and Business Practices are significant ideas in their own right-each is a unique insight. All three ideas have been around in various guises for several years, but have not been as well crystallized or as focused on complex business problems as they are in this book. The authors' achievement is extraordinary and goes a long way toward making the juicy idea of culture something to be built on and worked with."
-Peter Vaill
Professor, Antioch University

"The Achilles heel for any major organizational change is that organization's culture. In every change, consultants talk about culture, but few provide specific sequential steps designed to actually do anything about it. This book provides such steps, and provides them in ways that makes sense. 'Makes sense' is the key because the steps provided can be easily adapted to virtually any organization, large or small."
-George Falldine
Air Force civil servant, Air Force Materiel Command

"Sara Moulton Reger is one of the premier organizational design consultants in the country, and this book reflects her in-depth knowledge of and experience with the subject matter. This book is essential reading for those striving to achieve greater results from ongoing change initiatives. Can Two Rights Make a Wrong? contains a broad range of concepts, examples, and specific steps culled from Moulton Reger's direct experience. Such a complete presentation of strategic and tactical advice makes Can Two Rights Make a Wrong? a mandatory addition to every manager's bookshelf."
-Steven Bragg, CPA
Author of twenty-eight business books, CFO of Premier Data Services

"This is a serious book that gives intelligent guidance to anyone who leads an organization and takes creating and managing culture seriously. The section on Outcome Narratives is the best 'how to' on casting a unifying vision that I have seen. If you're a leader and take your role in creating and managing corporate culture seriously, then you should read this book."
-Regi Campbell
Principal, Seedsower Investments, author of About my Father's Business

"I don't read most 'culture change' books-waste of time. This book is different. Can Two Rights Make a Wrong? combines both soft and hard approaches, with a continuous focus on how-to and results. Buy it. But, more importantly, read it."
-Jack Grayson
Founder and chairman, American Productivity and Quality Center (APQC)

"We used Right vs. Right to help integrate an important acquisition-one that brought many differences we needed to carefully leverage to achieve IBM's business objectives. I found it to be a powerful technique for quickly reconciling strategic views of the business model and different operating preferences. Now, a few months later, we have the business results-and employee satisfaction-to prove Right vs. Right works."
-Jim Corgel
General manager, Small and Medium Business Services, IBM

"Leaders wouldn't think about doing a major project without a plan and a project manager, but how many consider the cultural implications? This book fills a key void because it clarifies the topic of culture so that it is easier to understand, and includes examples for applying the framework to many types of situations, including business-to-business alliances and cross geography teams."
-Cindy Berger
Vice president, American Express

"There is no question that the biggest hurdle to achieving a successful merger is culture. Market opportunities may be staggering and synergies may seem perfect, but, without a cultural match, odds are the merged company will struggle. Can Two Rights Make a Wrong? can help you avoid the problems. Even if you are not contemplating a merger, Moulton Reger's deep insight provides an excellent management primer and interesting historical perspective. A worthwhile read."
-John R. Patrick
Author of Net Attitude, president of Attitude LLC

"This is an excellent book that provides a pragmatic approach to identifying and alleviating cultural issues created when two groups of people must work together. Effectively blending business cultures is a key requirement for successful outsourcing, and most companies lack the tools necessary to do this. Companies looking to reduce outsourcing risk should follow IBM's Tangible Culture approach."
-Lance Travis
Vice president, Outsourcing Strategies, AMR Research

"This book will help leaders and cultural-change practitioners take a practical, well-architected approach to creating the culture they need to support their strategies. Thanks, IBM, for sharing what you have learned from your own transformation."
-Valerie Norton
Vice president, Talent Management and Organizational Effectiveness, Merck & Co., Inc.

"Based on IBM's own experience with organizational transformation and mergers, this book belongs on the reading list of any executive contemplating major changes to their business."
-Peter Richerson
Professor, University of California Davis

"Finally, a book that goes beyond just declaring 'it's the culture change' and gets to a real recount of why and how to move on that need. This is a practical approach for senior leaders in large corporations and government to address the most pressing issues in modern business life!"
-Kenneth I. Percell
Executive director, Warner Robins Air Logistic Center

"I like the way the authors move the idea of organization culture from intangible (values) to tangible and practical. They offer that culture can be viewed and changed by examining and discussing what people do. Using the techniques described in Can Two Rights Make a Wrong? will demystify culture clash."
-Lynda Aiman-Smith
Ph.D., North Carolina State University

"A must read for leaders charged with planning and executing major change initiatives involving a single organization or multiple organizations. The book is original, thoughtful, thorough, and pragmatic. The elements of Can Two Rights Make a Wrong? and their interrelationships that work to drive successful change are particularly beneficial. The authors demonstrate a hands-on grasp of this important subject and the related literature. The material is presented in a concise, easy-to-understand format, with lots of tables, charts, and illustrations to help guide the reader."
-Stephen W. Brown, Edward M. Carson
Chair in services marketing, professor and executive director, Center for Services Leadership, W. P. Carey School of Business, Arizona State University

"Many have observed that mergers and acquisitions will fail to achieve their goals without proper attention to human and cultural factors, but few have shown us the way to manage these factors in any meaningful way. This book takes up that challenge and delivers a real solution by identifying business practices as the crucial element of 'culture' that can make or break a merger or acquisition, and by providing a hands-on methodology for managing and aligning differences across cultures."
-Marietta Baba
Dean of the College of Social Science, professor of Anthropology, Michigan State University

"Sara Moulton Reger's application of Business Practices, Right-vs. Right, and Outcome Narratives to business transformation spoke directly to my own business experience. I found the book's comprehensive approach very appealing. It brought together the story of a historic merger; a review of traditional approaches to culture transformation in business organizations; the powerful new techniques of Outcome Narratives, Right vs. Right, and Business Practices Alignment; and useful examples of the way to apply these techniques."
-Dwight E. Collins, Ph.D.
Adjunct professor, Presidio School of Management, sustainable business and supply chain optimization consultant, president, Collins Family Foundation

"We know unsuccessful mergers and acquisitions are often the result of underestimating the people and the cultural issues. Derived from experience, here is practical help in improving your chances of being one of the success stories."
-David Hope
Human resources director, Norwich Union Insurance

"This is state-of-the-art. This practical approach is extremely useful for anyone involved in integrating two large organizations, especially professional organizations. I found the book Can Two Rights Make a Wrong? fascinating-excellently describing the preparation and process that is required in integrating culturally different organizations."
-Fred WI Lachotzki
Professor of business policy, Nyenrode University, coauthor of Beyond Control: Managing Strategic Alignment through Corporate Dialogue

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Pardon my cynicism, but at this point in my life, the last thing I expect from a publication on organizational culture is to be impressed. Sure, I anticipate a few nuggets of useful information or I wouldn't bother to open a book at all, but I've learned it is best to keep my expectations low when browsing this genre. My skepticism is not so much an indictment of the authors who brave these deep waters as much as a recognition that this stone has been turned many times with little new to show for it in recent years, aside from a few notable exceptions.

Also, when I first received this particular manuscript for review, I thought the authors were asking for trouble because of the title they had chosen. With Tangible Culture on the cover, I was sure their collective necks were stuck out dangerously far. First, there is a claim associated with a tag like this. It implies a promise to help the reader grasp organizational culture as something other than the amorphous, nebulous enigma it has been throughout most leaders' careers. In addition, to live up to the headline hype, not only must the concept of culture become across as grounded and concrete, but the writing must also be relevant to the real world. To stand up against the title's portend, the book must come across to the reader as accessible, explicit, and substantive, but beyond that, it must be germane to the accelerated pace and advanced sophistication leaders contend with every day.

I thought the topic and the choice of title put the authors at risk but, on the other hand, I knew that if they could carry through on their assertion, there was an eager readership waiting for the next meaningful advance in understanding this convoluted subject. Meeting either of the implied undertakings the title suggests (making culture discernible and making the reading of it palpable) would justify the reader's investment, but accomplishing them together would make this book a welcome relief from the many others on the same subject that have more insight and significance in their dust jacket's description than in their actual contents. I'm happy to declare that the authors have delivered on both.

Sara Moulton Reger and her associates have taken some important steps toward uncloaking the mystery that has surrounded corporate culture since it was first recognized as a key variable in organizational transformation. Tangible Culture offers:

  • Solid conceptual support for the positions it advocates
  • Easy-to-understand approaches, techniques, and application stories

The combination is what brings the title's promise of something "tangible" into focus.

Assuming that changing corporate culture is of more than a passing interest to you and that you are or soon will be involved in orchestrating a significant cultural shift for your organization (or one you are serving), I predict you will want to keep this book close by when it's time to produce measurable results.

Daryl Conner
Author of the best-selling books Managing at the Speed of Change and Leading at the Edge of Chaos

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Table of Contents
  • Foreword
  • Preface
  • Acknowledgments
  • About the Author
  • Contributing Authors
  • Section I: The Basics
    • Chapter 1: Introduction-An Overview of Tangible Culture
    • Chapter 2: We Can't Do This the Traditional Way-IBM's Acquisition of PricewaterhouseCoopers Consulting
    • Chapter 3: Traditional Approaches to Culture Transformation-How Others Have Dealt with the Challenge
    • Chapter 4: How to Get to the Right Place the Right Way-Outcome Narratives
    • Chapter 5: The Good Thing That Can Cause Big Trouble-Right vs. Right
    • Chapter 6: The Unseen Hand That Propels Organizational Action-Business Practices
    • Chapter 7: Putting It All Together-The Business Practices Alignment Method
  • Section II: The Application
    • Chapter 8: Mergers and Acquisitions- Managing the Common Sources of Culture Clash
    • Chapter 9: Alliances-Finding Ways to Leverage Your Collective Capabilities
    • Chapter 10: Major Restructuring-Gaining Sustained Value from Your Reorganization
    • Chapter 11: Major Transformation-Addressing Your Plan's Hidden Barrier
    • Chapter 12: Key Decisions and Everyday Business-Extending Tangible Culture Into the Operational Parts of Your Business
  • Section III: The Projects
    • Chapter 13: The Co-operators-Using Business Practices to Clarify Expectations
    • Chapter 14: Sales Pipeline-Using Right vs. Right to Differentiate Issues
  • Epilogue
  • Appendix: About the Contributors
  • Index

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