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Our Iceberg Is Melting by John Kotter

A quick (half-day) primer on driving organizational change, written by one of the foremost authorities on the subject, told through a metaphor about a colony of penguins transitioning to a nomadic way of life.

A lot of what I do these days at work is change management- defining what the future should look like and then working to make it a reality. Yet I had never taken the time to consider the practice of change itself. I sought out this book as an introduction to the practice of change management.

Here is Kotter’s formula:

Set the stage

Create a sense of urgency by helping others see the need for change and the importance of acting immediately. You need to have a “why” for the proposed change that resonates with others, preferably driven by a model or other visual representation that helps others see and feel the need for change.

Pull together a guiding team that has the skills and relationships needed to enact change. Ensure that the group shares a sense of urgency.

Decide what to do

Develop the change vision and strategy, defining the proposed solution and the path to achieving it, starting from the present moment and ending after the change.

Make it happen

Communicate for understanding and buy-in within the organization to understand and accept the vision and strategy.

Empower others to act so that those who want to make the vision a reality can do so independently. Remove barriers.

Produce short-term wins that are visible, unambiguous successes, and do so as soon as possible. Make today better than yesterday, and talk about making tomorrow better than today. Celebrate these wins publicly and regularly.

Don’t let up after the first successes. Be relentless with initiating change until the vision is a reality.

Make it stick

Create a new culture that cements the new ways of behaving as solid replacements for the old traditions.