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213 of 234 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars "The Eight Steps to Transformation"
"Over the past decade," John P. Kotter writes, "I have watched more than a hundred companies try to remake themselves into significantly better competitors. They have included large organizations (Ford) and small ones (Landmark Communications), companies based in United States (General Motors) and elsewhere (British Airways), corporations that were on their...
Published on October 22, 2000 by Turgay BUGDACIGIL

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55 of 59 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Good leadership advice, but narrow and out-dated
John Kotter is a business professor at Harvard University who writes "Leading Change" as a guide to business leaders, helping them to transform their stagnant, ineffective, hierarchical companies into more effective, responsive, team-oriented ones. To help companies and leaders make this transition, he presents eight sequential steps that must be followed in order and...
Published on May 30, 2008 by Matthew Gunia


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213 of 234 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars "The Eight Steps to Transformation", October 22, 2000
By 
This review is from: Leading Change (Hardcover)
"Over the past decade," John P. Kotter writes, "I have watched more than a hundred companies try to remake themselves into significantly better competitors. They have included large organizations (Ford) and small ones (Landmark Communications), companies based in United States (General Motors) and elsewhere (British Airways), corporations that were on their knees (Eastern Airlines), and companies that were earning good money (Bristol-Myers Squibb). Their efforts have gone under many banners: total quality management, reengineering, right-sizing, restructuring, cultural change, and turnaround. But in almost every case the basic goal has been the same: to make fundamental changes in how business is conducted in order to help cope with a new, more challenging market environment. A few of these corporate change efforts have been very successful. A few have been utter failures. Most fall somewhere in between, with a distinct tilt toward the lower end of the scale. The lessons that can be drawn are interesting and will probably be relevant to even more organizations in the increasingly competitive business environment of the coming decade."
In this context, John P. Kotter lists the most general lessons to be learned from both (I) the more successful cases and (II) the critical mistakes as follows:
I. Lessons from the more successful cases:
1. Establishing a sense of urgency
* Examining market and competitive realities
* Identifying and discursing crises, potential crises, or major opportunities
2. Forming a powerful guiding coalition
* Assembling a group with enough power to lead the change effort
* Encouraging the group to work together as a team
3. Creating a vision
* Creating a vision to help direct the change effort
* Developing strategies for achieving that vision
4. Communicating vision
* Using every vehicle possible to communicate the new vision and strategies
* Teaching new behaviors by the example of the guiding coalition
5. Empowering others to act on the vision
* Getting rid of obstancles to change
* Changing systems or structures that seriously undermine the vision
* Encouraging risk taking and nontraditional ideas, activities, and actions
6. Planning for and creating short-term wins
* Planning for visible performance improvements
* Creating those improvements
* Recognizing and rewarding employees involved in the improvements
7. Consolidating improvements and producing still more change
* Using increased credibility to change systems, structures, and policies that don't fit the vision
* Hiring, promoting, and developing employees who can implement the vision
* Reinvigorating the process with new projects, themes, and change agents
8.Institutionalizing new approaches
* Articulating the connections between the new behaviors and corporate success
* Developing the means to ensure leadership development and succession
II. Lessons from the critical mistakes:
1. Not establishing enough sense of urgency - A transformation program requires the aggressive cooperation of many individuals. Without motivation, people won't help and the effort goes nowhere.
2. Not creating a powerful guiding coalition - Companies that fail in this phase usually underestimate the difficulties of producing change and thus the importance of a powerful quiding coalition.
3. Lacking a vision - Without a sensible vision, a transformation effort can easily dissolve into a list of confusing and incompatible projects that can take the organization in the wrong direction or nowhere at all.
4. Undercommunicating the vision - Transformation is impossible unless hundreds or thousands of people are willing to help, often to the point of making short-term sacrifices.
5. Not removing obstacles to the new vision - Sometimes the obstacle is the organizational structure: narrow job categories can seriously undermine efforts to increase productivity or make it very difficult even to think about customers. Sometimes compensation or performance-appraisal systems make people choose between the new vision and their own self-interest. Perhaps worst of all are bosses who refuse to change and who make demands that are inconsistent with the overall effort.
6. Not systematically planning and creating short-term wins - Creating short-term wins is different from hoping for short-term wins. The latter is passive, the former active. In a successful transformation, managers actively look for ways to obtain clear performance improvements, establish goals in the yearly planning system, achieve the objectives, and reward the people involved with recognition, promotions, and even money.
7. Declaring victory too soon - Instead of declaring victory, leaders of successful efforts use the credibility afforded by short-term wins to tackle even bigger problems.
8. Not anchoring changes in the corporation's culture - Change sticks when it becomes "the way we do things around here," when it seeps into the bloodstream of the corporate body. Until new behaviors are rooted in social norms and shared values, they are subject to degradation as soon as the pressure for change is removed.
Finally, John P. Kotter writes, "There are still more mistakes that people make, but these eight are the big ones. In reality, even successful change efforts are messy and full of surprises. But just as a relatively simple vision is needed to guide people through a major change, so a vision of the change process can reduce the error rate. And fewer errors can spell the difference between success and failure."
Highly recommended.
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36 of 36 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Will you lead change?, November 20, 2012
I highly recommend this book for its easy-to-read-and-grasp approach to managing change. The book outlines an eight-stage change process that is intuitive and methodical. Kotter shows a change agent what to look for, what to emphasize, and how to orchestrate and maneuver through any organizational change. I appreciate the book's instructional tone without all the business jargon. As a leadership book, I consider it one of my two must reads (the other is Leadership 2.0).

Here's what's inside "Leading Change":

Part I: The Change Problem and Its Solution

1. Transforming Organizations: Why Firms Fail

2. Successful Change and the Force That Drives It

Part II: The Eight-Stage Process

3. Establishing a Sense of Urgency

4. Creating the Guiding Coalition

5. Developing a Vision and Strategy

6. Communication the Change Vision

7. Empowering Employees for Broad-Based Action

8. Generating Short-Term Wins

9. Consolidating Gains and Producing More Change

10. Anchoring New Approaches in the Culture

Part III: Implications For the Twenty-First Century

11. The Organization of the Future

12. Leadership and Lifelong Learning
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134 of 150 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Make Change Irresistibly Attractive, April 19, 2000
By 
Donald Mitchell "Jesus Loves You!" (Thanks for Providing My Reviews over 124,000 Helpful Votes Globally) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)    (TOP 500 REVIEWER)    (HALL OF FAME REVIEWER)   
This review is from: Leading Change (Hardcover)
The leaders of some organizations have no idea how to make successful changes, and are likely to waste a lot of resources on unsuccessful efforts. Professor Kotter has done a solid job of outlining the elements that must be addressed, so now your organization will at last know what they should be working on.
On the other hand, if you have not seen this done successfully before, you may need more detailed examples than this book provides or outside facilitators to help you until you have enough experience to go solo. I suspect this book will not be detailed enough by itself to get you where you want to go.
Here's a hint: The Harvard Business Review article by Professor Kotter covers the same material in a much shorter form. You can save time and money by checking this out first before buying the book.
I personally find that measurements are very helpful to create self-stimulation to change, and this book does not pay enough attention in that direction. If you agree that measurements are a useful way to stimulate change, be sure to read The Balanced Scorecard, as well, which will help you understand how to use appropriate measurements to make more successful changes.
If you want to know what changes to make, this book will also not do it for you. I suggest you read Peter Drucker's Management Challenges for the 21st Century and Peter Senge's Fifth Discipline.
Good luck!
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55 of 59 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Good leadership advice, but narrow and out-dated, May 30, 2008
By 
Matthew Gunia (Justice, Illinois) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)    (REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Leading Change (Hardcover)
John Kotter is a business professor at Harvard University who writes "Leading Change" as a guide to business leaders, helping them to transform their stagnant, ineffective, hierarchical companies into more effective, responsive, team-oriented ones. To help companies and leaders make this transition, he presents eight sequential steps that must be followed in order and done well.

These eight steps are:

1. Establish a sense of urgency (fight complacency)

2. Create a guiding coalition (both influential leaders and effective managers)

3. Develop a widely inspiring vision and strategy for achieving it

4. Communicate the vision, communicate the vision, and communicate the vision even more.

5. Give the employees authority to creatively experiment concerning how to best make the vision a reality

6. Make sure you point out things to celebrate as you make progress toward your goals; it rewards appropriate behavior and, besides, people need to celebrate once in a while.

7. Understand Bowen Family Systems Theory--that when you change one thing, everything else changes with it. Systemic change is difficult work that produces a whole lot of anxiety and unintended consequences.

8. Make sure that, once the changes are made, they become engrained in the new culture of he company; make them "the way we do things around here."

Kotter does get credit for being comprehensive and for being among the first to write a leadership book of this sort (copyright 1996). He appears correct in all of his arguments and this reader has difficulty finding flaws in his eight steps. He appropriately balances task-orientation and relationship-orientation and distinguishes between leading and managing. Furthermore, he is the only author I've come across that understands how Family Systems Theory plays out in an organization undergoing change.

However, the book is outdated. Newer authors like Jim Collins, John Maxwell, and Kouzes & Posner have refined Kotter's ideas and presented them in a more readable, more applicable, and more modern way (again, 1996 copyright).

Kotter limits his ideas and examples to the large, highly structured business world; other authors deliberately address leadership within smaller businesses, schools, non-profits, and other environments. Kotter writes before the internet was widely used; other books keep rapid communication advancements in mind. The obligatory quotes from people I've never heard of who praise the book say over and over again how highly readable Kotter's prose is; I found the prose dry and could cite many examples from this genre which are much more readable.

The ideas Kotter presents are not bad; in fact they're quite good and have blazed the trail for other leadership books. However, "Leading Change" could certainly use an updated edition. Other authors have taken many of Kotter's ideas, refined them, re-worked them, and present them in a manner much more helpful to a wider audience.

I neither recommend this book nor do I contest it. You would do well to read "Leading Change," but you would do better to read some of the authors listed above.
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54 of 61 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Eight-stage process for transformation programs, August 17, 2002
By 
Gerard Kroese (The Netherlands) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Leading Change (Hardcover)
John P. Kotter is Professor of Leadership at the Harvard Business School. He has written several books and articles on general management and leadership issues. This particular book builds on his 1995 Harvard Business Review-article 'Leading Change: Why Transformation Efforts Fail'.
The book is split up into three parts. In the first part - The Change Problem and Its Solution - Kotter discusses the eight main reasons why in many situations the improvements have been disappointing, with wasted resources and burned-out, scared, or frustrated employees. Each of these eight errors are discussed in detail, using simple, clear examples. "Making any of the eight errors in common to transformation efforts can have serious consequences." But Kotter argues that these errors are not inevitable. And this is why Kotter has written this book. "The key lies in understanding why organizations resist needed change, what exactly is the multistage process that can 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." In Chapter 2, Kotter discusses the reasons why organizations (can) need changes and improvements. Although some people suggest otherwise, Kotter believes that organizations can implement change successfully. "The methods used in successful transformations are all based on one fundamental insight: that major change will not happen easily for a long list of reasons." Kotter introduces an eight-stage process for creating major change.
This eight-stage process is discussed in Part Two of this book:
(1) The first stage of the process involves the establishment of a sense of urgency, which is required to overcome complacency. The nine sources of complacency are discussed, whereby Kotter emphasizes that "a good rule of thumb in a major change effort is: Never underestimate the magnitude of the forces that reinforce complacency and that help maintain the status quo." He further discusses methods for raising urgency levels, the role of crises, and the role of middle and lower-level managers.
(2) The second stage involves the creation of a guiding coalition. "A strong guiding coalition is always needed - one with the right composition, level of trust, and shared objective." According to the author the four key characteristics to effective guiding coalition are position power, expertise, credibility, and leadership. And he emphasizes that management and leadership must work in tandem, teamwork style.
(3) The third stage requires the development of a vision and strategy. Good vision clarifies the general direction for change, motivates people to take action in the right direction, and it helps coordinate people's actions. The characteristics of an effective vision are imaginable, desirable, feasible, focused, flexible, and communicable. But vision alone is not enough. "This is where strategy plays an important role. Strategy provides both logic and a first level detail to show how a vision can be accomplished."
(4) The power of a vision is most powerful when all people within an organization have a common understanding of its goals and direction. Although the general myth is that failures to communicate vision are attributed to either limited intellectual capabilities among lower-level employees or a general human resistance to change. But that is not really the problem. The vision needs to be communicated in a clear, simple message (focused and jargon-free). Kotter discusses each of the seven key elements in the communication of vision.
(5) Empowering employees for broad-based action - "Discouraged and disempowered employees never make enterprises winners in a globalizing economic environment. But with the right structure, training, systems, and supervisors to build on a well-communicated vision, increasing numbers of firms are finding that they can tap an enormous source of power to improve organizational performance. They can mobilize hundreds or thousands of people to help provide leadership to produce needed changes."
(6) Major change takes time and it is therefore advisable to pay serious attention to short-term wins. Short-term wins should be visible, unambiguous, and related to the change effort. Short-term wins play various roles in a change effort, most notably building the necessary momentum.
(7) Many forces can stall a change process short of the finish line. And we should be aware that irrational and political resistance to change never fully dissipates. We should not let the celebration of short-term wins allow complacency back into the organization. We should also be aware that progress can slip away for two reasons: corporate culture (see more in the next stage) and increased interdependence as a result from interconnections.
(8) "Culture refers to norms of behavior and shared values among a group of people." In large organizations, there are some social forces (corporate culture) that affect everyone. Corporate cultures have a powerful influence on human behavior, since it is almost impossible to change and invisible. Kotter believes that "culture is powerful for three reasons: (i) Because individuals are selected and indoctrinated so well. (ii) Because the culture exerts itself through the actions of hundreds or thousands of people. (iii) Because all of this happens without much conscious intent and thus is difficult to challenge or even discuss." He provides with one other important warning: "most cultural change happens in stage 8, not stage 1."
Part III - Implications for the Twenty-First Century - consists of two chapters. In the first chapter, Kotter discusses the organization of the future. In particular, the impact of the future on the eight stages in the change process. There is an interesting table, which compares the differences in structure, systems, and culture between 20th-century and 21st-century organizations. "The key to creating and sustaining the kind of successful 21st-century organization is leadership - not only at the top of the hierarchy, with a capital L, but also in a more modest sense (l) throughout the enterprise." These two notions are discussed in detail in the final chapter of the book.
Yes, this is an excellent book on controlling change. The book provides an extremely useful framework for a change process and should be kept as a checklist. Although the process looks rigid, the stages are flexible and take place concurrently. I recommend this book to all people involved in a major change process within larger organizations. The author uses simple business US-English.
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23 of 26 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Clear and direct to the point guide for management success., January 14, 2000
By 
Joe Ruszczyk (Long Island, NY) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Leading Change (Hardcover)
This invaluable reading helped me navigate through the numerous challenges encountered when establishing a long term direction for my organization. Kotter does an excellent job in breaking down the basic elements to developing a success vision. Most importantly, his book leads you into a self evaluation of your personal traits, skills , and leadership style and how they support or encumber your goal achieving process. I believe "Leading Change" is a must read for those of us who think we are high performers and certainly recommend it for pre-interview brush ups.
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Transforming Organizations is Tough Without Leading Change!, September 3, 2000
This review is from: Leading Change (Hardcover)
Transforming organizations is tough! It is more difficult than many people realize. Generally, leaders attempt change efforts that are too mild and then give them too little time to succeed. As a result, many transformations fail.
Even though this book was published four years ago, it is still on the cutting edge of modern, linear change in organizations. In my own consulting work I see this book--more than any other--used as a reference point when dicussing change strategies.
Kotter's ideas of establishing a sense of urgency and creating a guiding coalition brought great insight to the part of the change process known as readiness. Another great contribution is the idea that culture--being the most difficult thing to change--is generally the last change tackled, and the capping change that must take place for true lasting change to occur.
John Kotter begins this book by sharing why transformation efforts fail. He then takes the reader on a journey through an eight stage process of creating major change. He concludes this three-part book with a look at the implications for the twenty-first cnetury related to organizations and leadership.
Any facilitator or recipient of change efforts who has not read this book, has missed one of the mandatory books about the change process in North American culture.
Buy it today!
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15 of 17 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A useful book for a changing world of business, November 22, 1999
This review is from: Leading Change (Hardcover)
"Change is the only permanent thing" has become an extremely popular idea and everybody's talking about it everywhere. The difference with this book is that - unlike other authors - John P. Kotter systematizes the analysis of change inside organizations and he succeeds almost a 100%. I say almost a 100% because I think "Leading change" emphasyses a little bit more on "what" to do in order to face changes than on "how" to implement changes. Yes, I know that every company is a different world by itself and that many possible ways of implementation do exist, but in my humble oppinion this book should have had 20-30 more pages in order to explore in more detail this crucial aspect of change. Anyway it is an enlightening book on the topic.
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12 of 14 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Excellent book on leadership & the change process, January 8, 2001
By 
This review is from: Leading Change (Hardcover)
I highly recommend Leading Change and believe it will be helpful to leaders and managers at all levels. The concepts Kotter puts forth are equally helpful to the executive trying to introduce sweeping change or the project manager trying to gain support and momentum for a project. The book focuses on explaining the change process and the role of leadership in that process. I chose not to give it five stars because it could have included more instruction and examples. However, its concise nature is also a benefit because (at less than 200 pages) it is easy to read. It is also extremely well written. In particular, I am impressed by how well Kotter summarizes his theories towards the end of each chapter. He is adept at succinctly reinforcing concepts without undue repetition.
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14 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Leading Change by John P. Kotter, May 14, 2000
By A Customer
This review is from: Leading Change (Hardcover)
The book is terrific if you really intend to move your organization forward through change. The insights proferred by the author are exceptionally pertinent to today's global changes. Provided in the book are step-by-step processes to achieve success as well as pitfalls to avoid. The eight primary mistakes of leading changes are clearly identified and relevant discussions are presented in a clear and concise manner. I would recommend this book to anyone who wishes to accompish change with the least amount of pain to their employees and with the most guarantee of success. Outstanding.
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Leading Change
Leading Change by John P. Kotter (Hardcover - January 15, 1996)
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