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Our Iceberg is Melting - Book summary

Through a simple fable about a penguin colony, with life-like characters that we can identify with. This book by John Kotter presents important lessons for working and living with changes. It illustrates 8 steps that can anyone can use to deliver successful change. In this free version of Our Iceberg is Melting summary, we’ll outline the key ideas in the book and the 8-step change process.

Here’s a quick overview of the book highlights.

Introduction: Our Iceberg is Melting

The story was set in Antarctica, on an iceberg where a colony of emperor penguins had lived for as long as they could remember. This was the only home they had ever known. The fable unfolds with Fred – an unusually curious and observant penguin – discovering that the iceberg they are living on had melted in some places and may literally fall apart.  Throughout the story, Kotter packed numerous interesting details, analogies and insights about change-management challenges at work e.g. fear of change and motivating action.

Kotter suggests that you read and reflect on the story more than once to get the most of the details in the fable. In this summary, we will outline the gist of the story, alongside Kotter’s 8 Steps to Successful Change in 3 Phases.

The 8 Steps to Change: An Overview

Here’s an overview of the 8 steps to change, interwoven into the fable:
Our Iceberg is Melting summary_The 8 Steps to Change

In a nutshell:
Step 1: Create Sense of Urgency
Step 2: Form a Guiding Team
Step 3: Define a Vision & Strategy for Change
Step 4: Communicate to Get Buy-In
Step 5: Empower Others
Step 6: Achieve Short-term Wins
Step 7: Build Momentum
Step 8: Build a New Culture

The power of the fable lies in its vivid details and analogy, which helps us to reflect on our work, workplace and the people around us. Consider the melting icebergs that you could be on (e.g. outdated curriculum or product lines, deteriorating services), the potential change champions and nay-sayers in your organization, and what role you can play.  The book is especially powerful when it is read as a team, as it provides a tool to align your thinking and approach toward change.

Getting the Most from Our Iceberg is Melting

For more examples, details, and actionable tips to apply these strategies, do get our full summary bundle which includes an infographic, 9-page text summary, and a 15-minute audio summary.

Our Iceberg Is Melting summary - book summary bundle

You can purchase the book here to get the most from the fable or visit kotterinternational.com.

About the Author of Our Iceberg is Melting

Our Iceberg is Melting: Changing And Succeeding Under Any Conditions is written  by John Kotter–an author, speaker, Harvard Professor, and management consultant and founder of Kotter International. At the age of 33, Kotter was given tenure and a full Professorship at the Harvard Business School, making him the youngest person ever to receive that award at the Business School. Dr. Kotter is the author of 18 books, 12 of which have been business bestsellers and two of which are overall New York Times bestsellers. He is still working tirelessly to achieve the goal of “millions leading, billions benefiting”. Kotter is a proud father of two and resides in Boston, MA with his wife Nancy Dearman.

Our Iceberg is Melting Quotes

“Culture changes with as much difficulty in penguin colonies as in human colonies.”

“When you act in concert with others, because you have all read, reflected, and discussed the same fable, the end results can be very powerful.”

“Handle the challenge of change well. And you can prosper greatly. Handle it poorly, and you put yourself and others at risk.”

“Our method is showing, much more than telling.”

“The colony needs a team of birds to guide it through this difficult period. I cannot do the job alone.”

Click here to download Our Iceberg is Melting book summary and infographic

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