The lead author of "The Necessary Revolution" is Peter Senge - the author of "The Fifth Discipline", a famous book about creating learning organisations. Along with two change management colleagues, Bryan Smith and Nina Kruschwitz, and two sustainability bods, Joe Laur and Sara Schley, Senge brings his thinking to bear on the biggest of all challenges, creating a sustainable world.

First impressions were great - a brilliant start setting out the problem and some fantastic case studies demonstrating how some people have managed to find solutions, and in particular "never doubt what one person & a small group of conspirators can do" about how small seeds can grow into powerful networks for change. Examples included the creation of the LEED green building protocol in the US and the setting up of Green Zones in Sweden, based around green fuels.

However I felt that the promised 'how to' and 'toolbox' parts of the book are a bit vague and sparse. The best lesson I drew from these sections was the power of inquiry over advocacy (if your boss thinks sustainability isn't a priority, don't tell him he's wrong, but ask him what if he's wrong), but I didn't feel I was being armed with a tool box of techniques to make change happen. There's also a tendency to illustrate an intellectual argument with a very lengthy anecdote which never quite nails the point down. And, then after all the 'bottom up' arguments (inquiry, small groups, building networks etc), we're suddenly told on p337 "Start from the top down". I didn't get the relevance of most of the points in the last part "The Future" either - the anecdote of Amory Lovins designing a monkey house with the help of the residents (inmates?) was amusing, but left me baffled as to what I was meant to draw from this.

Having started so well - as good as Lovins' superlative Natural Capitalism in places - I was left feeling more than a little shortchanged on the toolbox front - particularly as the authors' intellectual firepower is biased towards change management. A flawed gem - get it for the case studies, anecdotes and inspiration - but don't expect too much in the way of new technique.

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