Sunday, December 20, 2009

Facets of Change

Change happens
Anticipate change
Monitor change
Adapt to change quickly
Enjoy change
Be ready to change quickly and enjoy it again and again

"In Our Iceberg is Melting," Kotter and Rathgeber use a colony of penguins living on an iceberg which is in Antarctica to show the process of change. As the penguins realize and react to the fact that their iceberg is facing a dire environmental transformation. The eight-step change process unfolds, thusly,


1. Create a sense of urgency. Help others see the need for change and acting immediately. In the book, the penguins establish a change committee that create a sense of urgency in the colony to deal with a difficult problem, their iceberg is melting and if they do not find a substitute iceberg to live, they will all perish in the winter which is approaching in two months' time.

2. Pull together the guiding team and ensure the team is strong enough to guide the change. The key to success is to ensure the team is strong enough to guide the change. The penguins change committee contained colony members with leadership skills, credibility, communications ability, authority, analytical skills and finally, a sense of urgency.


3. Develop the vision and change strategy. Clarify how the future will be different from the past, and how to make the future a reality. The change committee developed a "sensible vision of a better future" based on a seagull's migratory practices, and crafted a strategy in line with the vision.


4. Communicate for understanding and buy-in. Arguably, the most important part of the change process. Kotter and Rathgeber highlight the panic and fear the penguins felt when confronted with the need to change. In getting the message out, the change committee goes to great lengths motivating the group and reinforcing the message. They ensure transparency of process by providing as much information to the colony as possible.

5. Empower others to act. Enable others to act on the vision by removing obstacles to action. In the story, the change committee empowered penguins outside the committee to produce ideas and strengthen the message. This transparent and all-inclusive communication strategy ultimately ensured the penguins' success.

6. Produce short-term wins. Quick, tangible success will help to drain the power from critics and help and bring them on board. The change committee established a team of scouts who would search for the penguins' new home. Each day the scouts came back with good news of their search. This lifted the spirits of the colony and further solidified the change.

7. Don't let up. After the first success, press harder and faster in initiating changes until the vision becomes a reality. In the case of the penguins, they were tempted to declare the colony had been subjected to enough change after the initial move and advocate settling down. However, they knew complacency was what got them into trouble in the first place, so they persist in looking for better icebergs.

8. Create a new culture. Internalize the change to ensure it sticks. The authors stress not allowing changes to be overcome by tradition. In the book, the story of "The Great Change" is repeated again and again to younger generations of penguins. This kept the colony agile and responsive to continuous change.

Kotter and Rathgeber's, "Eight Steps Process of Successful Change" can allow organizations to enjoy success in changing times. Although the book's message is centered on organizational change, it also has life applications. After all, everyone is affected by change whether they like it or not. Iceberg explains that how we respond to those changes determines the outcome, whether we thrive or we suffer.

Gleicher's Formula (Wikipedia, 2008b), provides a model for organizations to assess the likelihood of change success based on conditional strengths. This model determines three factors that must be present before any meaningful change can occur. These factors are:

Dissatisfaction with how things are now (D)
Vision of what is possible (V)
First, concrete steps that can be taken toward the vision (F)
To ensure success, the product of these three factors must be greater than
Resistance (R)
D x V x F > R

The ADKAR model was developed for individual change management by the Prosci Learning Centers, with input from more than 1,000 organizations from 59 countries (Wikipedia, 2008a). This model contains five progressive steps to achieve change. These steps require a change agent to develop the following attributes in others:

Awareness to understand why the change is needed (A)
Desire to support and participate in the change (D)
Knowledge on how to change (K)
Ability to implement new skills and behaviors (A)
Reinforcement to sustain the change (R)

The benefit of Our Iceberg is Melting is that it helps one to look at change differently. It provides the reader with more than the change theory and the mechanics of change. This book uses simple easily-identifiable characters to present a important message of change. By highlighting the importance of emotions in the change process, it adds an element of personalization, an ingredient lost in a presentation of theory and mechanics. After all, one can certainly have the cognitive ability to understand change, but that does not guarantee its success. The reason change agents spend so much time communicating the need for change is to cultivate an emotional response, a desire to change. Therefore, this book is relevant to change management due to its emotional appeal.

The penguins experienced several emotions during the course of their change journeys. The characters were overcome with anger, worry, panic, skepticism and despair, and all these emotions were the result of fear! The fear associated with not understanding the need for change and what the change would eventually bring....

When the penguins' change committee communicated the change vision to the colony, they inspired them, creating a felt need for change. They also did a very good job of infusing the change vision into their daily activities by posting signs with slogans around the iceberg, and involving members of the colony in the process. However, as the change vision began to materialize, anxiety and doubt began to fester. Fear soon replaced the enthusiasm among some of the penguins, which led to resistance and some members actually attempting to sabotage the change process. One example is the penguins' kindergarten teacher who was afraid that "With all the change…the colony may not need a kindergarten" or "a teacher who is a bit too old to adapt" (Kotter & Rathgeber, 2005, p. 92). Her fear of losing her job and her purpose within the colony, led to a level of resistance that nearly undermined the entire change process. However, when a member of the change committee explained how important a teacher would be in an "ever changing" world, she was able to put her fear aside, and accept the change. This was a valuable lesson for the penguins who learned when dealing with groups, the importance of effective communication in managing and controlling fear cannot be understated.

In addition to effective communication, understanding the power of thinking and feeling differently in changing behavior will help achieve better results (Kotter & Rathgeber, 2005, p. 132). The penguins approached thinking and feeling as it pertains to the group (Kotter & Rathgeber, 2005, p. 132). They collected data and presented the information in a logical manner to change the colony's thinking, which in turn helped change their behavior. They also created surprising and compelling experiences to change the way the colony felt about the change, which led to an even greater change in behavior.

As one can see, the value of this book lies not in the theory or mechanics presented. Rather, it is understanding the role of emotion, particularly fear, in successfully achieving change. The manner in which we approach change on an emotional level will ultimately determine of our level of success or failure. In the end, the ability to recognize and overcome fear, both our own and that of others, is the single most important factor to successful change.

Programming & assimilation of pirated edit *Source* by DPC
Art by Frederic Edwin Church

Blog Archive

About Me

My photo

“Wisdom is the greatest cleanser”

Sri Yukteswar

Search This Blog

This blog may contain copyrighted material.
Such material is made available for educational
purposes to advance understanding of all facets
of sentient existence...

This constitutes a 'fair use' of any such copyrighted
material as provided for in Title 17 U.S.C. section 107
of the US Copyright Law. This material is distributed
without profit.