Why Our Systems Fail and What We Can Do About It
Whether it’s driving initiatives, updating stale strategies, or opening new markets—for leaders, managing change is an essential part of their job. Yet change is also one of the most challenging aspects of their job. People resist obvious solutions, staying in their lanes and sticking to their guns. Others just don’t “get it.” Even when changes seem successful, they often don’t stick. That’s because change is an “impossible problem”—one where leaders don’t know the answer, don’t control the people, and don’t control the broader context, from marketplace forces to technology. As we emerge from the pandemic, businesses are also facing increasingly complex challenges that can be a struggle to navigate. But it doesn’t have to be like this, says National Business Book Award-winning author Chris Clearfield. Transformational change can be taught and practiced; it can even be fun. In his engaging and practical talks, Clearfield shows us how.
“As technology advances, it brings an explosion of complexity and interdependence that can threaten our most critical systems and organizations in unforeseen ways. Meltdown is essential reading for anyone who seeks to understand these dangers and what can be done to address them.”— Martin Ford, Author of Rise of the Robots
In many cases, what’s at stake during a major change is more than just the success of a project—it’s the survival of a leader’s career and company. Leaders often resist change, causing them to make progress slower than they’d like. What could be a creative, collaborative effort turns into a painstaking, sluggish predicament. Enter Chris Clearfield, the National Business Book Award-winning author of Meltdown. With a sophisticated understanding of the complexity that modern leaders face, Clearfield advises leaders at some of the world’s most interesting companies on risk, strategy, and innovation—teaching them to solve their most impactful problems with curiosity, collaboration, and experimentation. Most recently, he has guided teams at a global oil company, a major online marketplace, and at Microsoft through their own transformational change journeys. Clearfield’s book Meltdown, co-authored with András Tilcsik, won the McKinsey Bracken Bower Prize and was named a Best Book of the Year by The Financial Times. Meltdown was also called “one of the stand-out business books of the decade” by the management organization Thinkers50, who awarded Clearfield and Tilscik their prestigious Strategy Award.
Clearfield began his career as a derivatives trader at Jane Street, a New York-based quantitative trading firm, where he managed the risks that arise when people try to use extremely fast computers to make money. During the 2007–2008 financial crisis, he watched from his trading desk as Lehman Brothers collapsed and stock markets around the world unraveled.Clearfield is a licensed commercial pilot with a very personal interest in avoiding catastrophic mistakes. He is a graduate of Harvard University, where he studied physics and biology. Before that, he spent two years at the North Carolina School of Science and Math, where he and two classmates, working with their physics teacher, discovered a long-searched-for pulsar in the remnants of an exploded star.