Can Two Rights Make a Wrong?
Insights from IBM's Tangible Culture Approach
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Foreword by DARYL CONNER, author of best-selling Managing at the Speed of Change and Leading at the Edge of Chaos

© 2006, Hardcover, 336 pages, 0-13-173294-3, $24.99

Leaders recognize the importance of business culture. But in many organizations, attempts to handle culture issues remain “squishy,” unfocused, and unlikely to bring any value or results. Now, IBM's leading experts reveal the way to make culture tangible to everyone involved—and how to effectively deal with a variety of culture challenges.

Can Two Rights Make a Wrong? leverages the learning from IBM’s integration of the PricewaterhouseCoopers Consulting acquisitioninsight crystallized into a powerful approach for transforming business culture.  It includes a surrogate for "culture" that is relevant and actionable for business people. It also explains how two rights can make a wrongthe source of culture clash and other business conflictsand what you can do about it.  It will help you clarify expectations so people will really “get” it—and do it.  And it will enable you to objectively measure culture change progress—something that has historically hampered culture change efforts.

Whether you’re involved with mergers, acquisitions, 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.

What readers are saying:

"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

"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)

"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

About the author:

Sara J. Moulton Reger ( is a leader in IBM's Services Research group.  She joined IBM Research in 2003 after helping to lead the integration of IBM's PricewaterhouseCoopers Consulting acquisition.  Her charter has been to hone those experiences and develop and publish other thought leadership (e.g., "Needless Complexity" link). Sara has been a management consultant since 1988 at IBM and other leading consulting firms, specializing in business transformation, organizational change, culture transformation, and governance. Sara has published on a variety of topics, including business culture, business complexity, On Demand Business, governance, e-business, communications, project risk management, change management, quality, and financial management. 

This book includes important contributions from members of IBM Business Consulting Services, IBM Research and the Institute for Business Value.

To purchase the book or contact the author, go to