“Indirect Work” by Carol Sanford

Indirect Work: A Regenerative Change Theory for Businesses, Communities, Institutions and Humans

Carol Sanford
InterOctave (2022)
ISBN 978-0989301398
Reviewed by Jill Rey for Reader Views (07/2022)

“Indirect Work” offers fundamental ideas housed amongst the backdrop of coach Phil Jackson’s legacy, coaching the Chicago Bulls during their championship runs. Within an otherwise reflective and immersive read stemming from the author’s concern towards the ways societies are currently pursuing change, author Carol Sanford shows us how transforming ourselves and the way we see, be, and act in the world is the only way true change can occur.

Sanford is genius in using the coaching methods Phil Jackson used on his run with the Chicago Bulls in their pursuit of championships in comparing and offering new ways to think about creating change. Coming off the success of several Chicago Bulls documentaries and basketball’s rise in popular media thanks to HBO and several other studios increasing their NBA exposure, the use of a history making sports achievement is the perfect way to ground her teachings within a relatable and real-world example of success. By doing so, readers can more deeply connect with the thought processes and challenges in making room for new ways to approach change. Through observation and evolution in one’s thinking, “Indirect Work” offers readers the opportunity and potential to create change.

Throughout the chapters, Sanford discusses Jackson’s holistic coaching approach, rather than the traditional methods we’ve come to associate with professional sports. For instance, Jackson took non-traditional routes to teaching lessons in practices, such as dimming the lights to engage more senses and evoke a deeper sense of trust and teamwork. Using the story of Phil Jackson’s upbringing and rise to fame as the head coach of the Chicago Bulls, Sanford is able to loosely tie back these transformative coaching practices to her own insights for transformative change.

Each chapter uniquely included an intermezzo, or a reflective type of journaling to engage the mind and root the reader even further into the concepts being presented. These intermezzos were used to “evoke conscious participation and critical thinking rather than passive information consumption” (p. 109). Every step of this book, every chapter, intermezzos, and story within was done with clear purpose by the author.  No stone is left unturned as Sanford seeks to provide readers with the power to change how they experience the world and approach change.


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