Many of us have a bias for books that distill a lot of useful information into few words. Most leaders complain that they want to do more reading but have little time for it. In fairly concise form, John Kotter lays out, in this now classic book, an eight step formula for creating momentum for sustainable change in organizations. The process offered is a sound and succinct blueprint for leaders to follow. However, this recommendation is offered with a few caveats.
The first step, which is to create a sense of urgency, is indeed essential. People and organizations tend not to change without a compelling reason to do so. But some of Kotter’s recommendations seem a bit draconian. Deliberately creating a financial crisis and allowing a mistake to blow up are the kind of underhanded management tactics that keep organizations and the people in them in a state of unhealthy stress.
None-the-less, other outlined tactics, such as placing information about revenue and other metrics in the hands of more employees and removing silos by measuring people against broader organizational goals, are sound and reasonably progressive.
The remaining seven steps outlined by Kotter continue to take the leader through the essential elements. The steps end with “anchoring new approaches in the culture” and truly represent a logical progression of action that is necessary in order to create change that sticks.
Kotter does not recommend exactly what changes an organization should be contemplating; that is another book and this, after all, is a diminutive volume that does a great job of focusing on and explaining the eight essential steps leading change.