Geko Operative

Perfection is not about always succeeding; it is about being aware of your failures and successes, weaknesses and strengths and about you neutralising the former and growing the latter


"Leading Change" by P. Kotter (HBR)

A few weeks ago I went to a hole-in-the-wall bookstore and I spied me a keeper. It was Leading Change by John P. Kotter.

Written in 1996 for Harvard Business School Press it is a revisit of Kotter's earlier success of the Leading Change article in March-April '95 for HBR (Harvard Business Review?). The A5 190 page paper back book outlines Kotter's 8 steps to leading (made distinct to managing) change in medium to large organisations from executive/top management levels.

Briefly these steps are outlined as follows...

1) Establishing a sense of urgency. Without a widespread recognition from people with influence that a change is required there is 0 chance a change agenda will be successful
2) Creating a guiding coalition. Garnering political support from people of inluence. There is a recognition that 'snakes' and 'big egos' are to be avoided and even eliminated for success
3) Developing a vision and strategy. Without a vision 1000 little plans will have no direction.
4) Communicating the change vision. Frame problems, failures and success within the vision when communicating.
5) Empowering employees for broad-based action. Here is the point of departure from what I have read before. Kotter makes a point that top management should lead whilst workers/lower management should manage. Also Kotter is a proponent of flat hierachy as he frequently notes that middle management is hierachial bloat.
6) Generating short term wins. Very interesting and valuable point here. You can't forget short term clear wins which get people off the fence and destroys the argument of naysayers.
7) Consolidating gains and producing more change. Basically stating that you need to build on the success brought about by short term wins to go for meatier and tougher change agendas.
8) Anchoring new approaches in the culture. Another point of departure from what I have read before Kotter says that changing culture happens at the end of change agendas and not at the beginning. Also makes a valuable insight that cultures can not be transplanted from one place to another. Different norms are somehow to be grafted on existing values.

Steps are advanced in year intervals which underline the importance (and further differentiates from management) leadership.

The book proved to be very good and insightful. Whereas before I would read a book about implementing a new idea in the work place this book has added a new dimension that will allow me to frame that implementation project. For example a book such as 'Kaizen Assembly' by Ortiz focuses on what the needed change is whilst 'Leading Change' by Kotter focuses on how to carry out that change. The book also bears to light the naivety of some workplace improvement books, which, if they were followed verbatim, would ultimately fail because of the reasons given by Kotter.

A good read.

One Response to "Leading Change" by P. Kotter (HBR)

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