2006, Francis Westley, Brenda Zimmerman, and Michael Quinn Patton

“Getting to Maybe” takes a descriptive approach to social innovation, with wisdom, insights and suggestions woven into the narrative.  This book captures the lived reality of being a social innovator more than any other book on change leadership I’ve read thus far.  In this way, it is compelling as it speaks to the heart, the mind and the higher calling of social innovation. The book, begins by organizing problems into Simple Complicated and Complex with their respective characteristics as a foundation for understanding why complex problems need a distinct handling.  In Chapter 3, there is a fabulous explanation of the organization life cycle and patch dynamics which includes what to observe each stage and its related trap.  Chapter 4 discusses the paradoxical relationship with the “Powerful Stranger” and the necessity to work with diverse people with competing interests.  Latter chapters explore questions of scale, experimentation and the importance of developmental evaluation.

I have a deep personal connection to this book and it’s message.  I was still in the early stages of my coaching career when Peter and I were invited by Brenda Zimmerman (co-author) and Brian Hayday to become coaches for a new leadership development program they had designed.  The program was grounded in CAS principles and taught Canadian physician leaders how to lead large system change.  I was both eager and overwhelmed.  was the beneficiary of their wisdom, intelligence and heart, so now that Peter, Brenda and Brian have passed away, I am nostalgic for that season.  As I read “Getting to Maybe”, I could hear Brenda telling the stories with her characteristic passion and delight!

If you are dissatisfied with the state of the world, and want to make a difference, then reading “Getting to Maybe” may help you to discover what part you can play.

Click here to order on Amazon.ca.

Click here for Westley’s tribute to Zimmerman 2014.

Click here for Zimmerman Complexity Talk 2013.