Professor, author collaborates with art student

By Emma Alexander – [email protected] – Asst. News Editor | April 1, 2015 |
Mary Lynn Manns, professor of management and accountancy at UNC Asheville, connected with Payton James, a senior art and management student, in illustrating Manns’ second book, “More Fearless Change.”
“Payton was in my Strategies for Leading Change class because she is a management minor,” Manns said. “She would doodle in class sometimes and I knew she was an art major. So when we were ready for the illustrations we asked to look at her sketches and she had the style we wanted.”
The two books contain a collection of strategies leaders of change use. No matter their age, there is a strategy for all types of change – whether it is for a community, organization or a personal change, Manns said.
Manns met her co-author, Linda Rising, at a conference in Arizona in 1999, where they partnered together.
“We interviewed leaders on change over a period of 18 years,” Manns said. “We interviewed all different kinds of people of all different ages.”
Manns’ first book, “Fearless Change,” sold about 10,000 copies and was translated into Chinese and Japanese due to its popularity there, Manns said. Her second book, “More Fearless Change,” was recently published on March 16.
“The first book took seven years to put together and the second book was published about 10 years later,” Manns said. “In the first book we have 48 strategies, and in the second there are 15 new strategies, along with updates on the first 48 – so a total of 63.”
Manns said she uses her books in her Strategies for Leading Change class at UNCA. Her students use the strategies to solve cases, although they are not textbooks, but business books.
“It is really interesting to study effective leaders and realize how many of the patterns continuously show up,” said William Kazlauskas, senior. “These leaders may have never seen Dr. Manns’ book, but they almost perfectly exemplify all the teachings in it because the book describes how effective leaders will naturally approach certain situations.”
Kazlauskas said the most important aspect he took away from the book is to always get others involved, ask for help and establish a group identity early. He said almost no change initiative is led by a single person.
“They’re for anyone who wants to lead change,” Manns said. “A high school student could use it. A 70-year-old could use it to lead change.”
Payton said she took Professor Manns’ class where they used “Fearless Change.”
“She made an effort to get to know each of her students really well in that class, and she found out I was an art major here at UNCA, so she asked me to illustrate her new book,” James said.
James said she will be graduating this May with a BFA in Studio Art, with a concentration in painting and a minor in management.
“I have my BFA show opening reception on April 3 from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. in the Highsmith gallery where anyone is welcome,” James said. “After graduation I will be hanging out in Asheville until June 20 when I get married, and then we will be moving to Ann Arbor, Michigan. I plan on working there as a studio artist, picking up commissioned work like this as often as I can, and then painting and drawing.”
James said the process was good, but somewhat hectic, because it can be a long process to get a book written, illustrated and published, and they both had very busy schedules.
Manns has been at UNCA since 1982 when she taught computer science for 18 years. She then joined the management department.
“I teach management information systems which is the management side of technology,” Manns said. “That’s where my interest lies. I teach the applied research classes and all the change leadership classes.”
Manns said she wrote her book little by little, on the weekends and during summer.
“Having a co-author is great because you can bounce ideas off each other,” Manns said. “The hardest part was not necessarily writing it, but it was in the interviews we did, all the research work we did for it.”
Because some people faced personal struggles along the way, the interviewees would ask Manns and Rising to change their names, Manns said. Many people did not want to be recorded. The authors talked and listened, and did email and phone interviews.
“I just love the subject matter,” Manns said. “I think the topic of change is so interesting. And it’s not like I’ll stop studying it now that this book is out. I don’t know if I’ll write a third one or not, but I will keep researching and talking to leaders of change.”