Through a simple fable about a penguin colony, with life-like characters that we can identify with, “Our Iceberg is Melting” 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 summary, we’ll outline the key ideas in the book and the 8-step change process.
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
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 Consider the melting icebergs that you could be on (e.g. outdated curriculum or product lines, deteriorating services), the potential change champions and nay-sayers in your organization, and what role you can play.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.
Master the 8 steps to orchestrating and managing change!