This blog post is my critique of the book “Leading Change” by John Kotter (1996) from the standpoint of individual, group and enterprise leadership insights.
Each critique reviews the key message of the book, the high-level concepts, the book’s areas of strengths, and where it falls short. I conclude each critique with an overall assessment ranking (1-10 ascending) of its effectiveness in providing the reader applicable lessons in personal and/or leadership development.
Overview: “Leading Change” is a straight-forward and insightful Leadership playbook for driving organizational change. Kotter provides an eight stage framework from strategy through execution and sustainment. Sprinkled in are anecdotes from his decades of research and consulting experience with multinational companies.
Key Message: One must understand why the organization resists change, what can be done to overcome destructive inertia, and most of all, how the leadership that is required to drive that process in a socially healthy way means more than good management.
High-level concepts: The eight stages of the Leading Change framework include 1) Establish sense of urgency 2) Create the guiding coalition 3) Develop a vision and strategy 4) Communicate the change vision 5) Empower employees for broad-based action 6) Generate short term wins 7) Consolidate gains and produce more change and 8) Anchor new approaches into the culture.
Areas of Strengths: When reading his book, I can easily see how to apply these concepts into my every day work life on a practical level. I am made aware of larger patterns of dynamics that may be of concern to the success of the change initiative and am given tools to discuss either in-flight or in preparation of change. As an expert in this field, I am continually impressed with what I learn from Kotter’s work that re-affirms his ability to communicate an extremely complex scholar-practitioner subject into the common vernacular.
Supplemental Materials: Strategy Execution and Change Management Consultants – Kotter (kotterinc.com) (main website) Tailored Leadership Development | Educational Programs | Kotter Inc.
Where it Falls Short: Leaders constantly want change to be adopted by the enterprise faster and faster. Attempting to create a new vision in 6 months sounds like an eternity. Using more data to validate the time needed to align leaders would be more beneficial in appeasing groups.
Overall Assessment & Why: I rate this piece of work a 9 out of 10 for its playbook style and easy to implement framework.