Cheapest Place to Buy: www.amazon.com
My Rating: 9 out of 10
A few years ago, my boss gave me this book and since then I have read it at least 20 times and used it as a key reference for leading organizational change initiatives. If you are looking for the “best book on leading change“…this is a must read as a classic in the organizational development world.
I really like how Kotter highlights the difference between managing and leading – two totally different skill sets. Put your hand up if you are in an organization in which teaching people how to lead has not been a priority! Kotter actually points out that entrenched arrogant management corporate cultures squash leadership competencies.
You will also notice Kotter’s position that transforming culture occurs at the end of a change initiative, not at the beginning. Kotter emphasizes that people will only adopt a risk changing behaviour and new cultural norms if the change they’ve been going through shows signs of success. The second last chapter on organizations of the future is terrific…read to the end! I’m sure you will wonder if the ability to communicate your vision more broadly and to encourage broad-based empowerment has fully leveraged the changes we are experiencing in today’s socially networked organization.
Kotter lays out a solid plan complete with examples and anecdotes. He focuses not only on what to do, but what NOT to do in trying to lead organizational change.
What not to do!
Kotter starts off with a great summary of eight common mistakes in transforming organizations:
1) Allowing too much complacency
2) Failing to create a sufficiently powerful guiding coalition
3) Underestimating the power of vision
4) Under communicating the vision by a factor of 10 (or 100 or even 1000)
5) Permitting obstacles to block the new vision
6) Failing to create short term wins
7) Declaring victory too soon
8) Neglecting to anchor changes firmly in the corporate culture.
Now, what to do!
Kotter’s eight stage change process, which lays out the general idea of the book, are as follows:
- Establish a sense of urgency to gain the necessary cooperation in the change effort.
- Create a powerful guiding coalition, which will be necessary to sustain the process.
- Develop a vision and strategy – the vision to establish a direction, cause, and alignment toward those ends, and a strategy to make it all feasible.
- Communicate the change vision to generate understanding and common ground.
- Empower employees for broad-based action to involve more people, in more powerful ways, in the change effort.
- Generate short-term wins to provide convincing evidence that the effort is worth continuing.
- Consolidate gains and then produce more change to maintain urgency and weaken resistance.
- Anchor new approaches in the organization’s culture to ensure that they become the accepted way of doing things.
The first four steps in the transformation process serve to “unfreeze” the status quo. From experience, I can vouch for the fact that if you fail to “unfreeze” the status quo, you rarely establish the foundation for transformational change. And without following the final four steps, it is highly unlikely that you will enjoy the complete benefits of the organizational transformation.
What’s In It For Your Organization…when you anchor this new approach in your organization’s culture?
Kotter presents some ideas of how the twenty-first century organization will look like when this new approach is embedded in your organization.
- Non-bureaucratic, with fewer rules and employees
- Limited to fewer levels
- Organized with the expectation that management will lead, lower-level employees will manage
- Characterized by policies and procedures that produce the minimal internal interdependence needed to serve customers
- Depend on many performance information systems, providing data on customers especially
- Distribute performance data widely
- Offer management training and support systems to many people
- Externally oriented
- Quick to make decisions
- Open and candid
- More risk tolerant
A great deal of fundamental change is required for most organizations…how long will this take; what happens if you don’t get there quick enough?
Why am I glad that I read this book…multiple times?
I recommend this book to leaders in any organization as a solid foundation for change. It has been said that the one constant is change, and nowhere is this more true than in today’s business environment. To be able to survive and thrive in an environment that appears to be more dynamic each year, organizations will need to be able to institute sweeping change from time to time, and incremental change almost constantly. Understanding how that is to be accomplished will be the key, and Leading Change provides the roadmap to lead transformation change. Click here if you are interested in learning more about this book.
I hope you have enjoyed this review and if you have any questions about Leading Change or want to leave your own personal review, please leave a comment below. I would love to hear from you. Here is a link to my profile.
All the best!