Is Your Iceberg Melting? The 8-Step Process for Leading Change

iceThirty years of research by Kotter has shown that 70% of all major change efforts in organizations fail. Why is it such a high number? Because organizations do not take the holistic approach to see the change through.

John Kotter’s book “Our Iceberg is Melting” is about a simple fable to successfully  respond to change in an ever-changing world.

“The fable is about a penguin colony in Antarctica. A group of beautiful emperor penguins live as they have for many years. Then, one curious bird discovers a potentially devastating problem threatening their home, and when he raises the issue, no one listens to him.

The characters in the story, Fred, Alice, Louis, Buddy, the Professor, and NoNo, are like people we recognize — even ourselves. Their tale is one of resistance to change and heroic action, seemingly intractable obstacles, and the most clever tactics for dealing with those obstacles.”

Questions to ask yourself to determine if your iceberg is melting (taken from a mailing):

  • What is your iceberg? Is it melting? Are there fissures?
  • What fissures do you see?
  • Are there any Freds or Alices willing to step up?
  • Does your organization have enough scouts?
  • Are the NoNos controlling the organization?
  • Are you most concerned with success in catching fish today or planning for what may come tomorrow?
  • Do you have a visible example of the case for change – your bottle?
  • Is there a clear and simple message about the future and what it may look like that is understood by all?
  • Is anyone willing to swim ahead?

“Our Iceberg Is Melting” is based on pioneering work that shows how the eight-step Process for Leading Change can succeed in creating needed change in any sort of group.

The eight steps for leading change by Kotter are:

Step 1: Establishing a Sense of Urgency Help others see the need for change and they will be convinced of the importance of acting immediately.

Step 2: Creating the Guiding Coalition Assemble a group with enough power to lead the change effort, and encourage the group to work as a team.

Step 3: Developing a Change Vision Create a vision to help direct the change effort, and develop strategies for achieving that vision.

Step 4: Communicating the Vision for Buy-in Make sure as many as possible understand and accept the vision and the strategy.

Step 5: Empowering Broad-based Action Remove obstacles to change, change systems or structures that seriously undermine the vision, and encourage risk-taking and nontraditional ideas, activities, and actions.

Step 6: Generating Short-term Wins Plan for achievements that can easily be made visible, follow-through with those achievements and recognize and reward employees who were involved.

Step 7: Never Letting Up Use increased credibility to change systems, structures, and policies that don’t fit the vision, also hire, promote, and develop employees who can implement the vision, and finally reinvigorate the process with new projects, themes, and change agents.

Step 8: Incorporating Changes into the Culture Articulate the connections between the new behaviors and organizational success, and develop the means to ensure leadership development and succession.

How are you leading change?


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