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The Heart of Change: Real-Life Stories of How People Change Their Organizations Hardcover – August 1, 2002

4.4 out of 5 stars 113 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

The Heart of Change is the follow-up to John Kotter's enormously popular book Leading Change, in which he outlines a framework for implementing change that sidesteps many of the pitfalls common to organizations looking to turn themselves around. The essence of Kotter's message is this: the reason so many change initiatives fail is that they rely too much on "data gathering, analysis, report writing, and presentations" instead of a more creative approach aimed at grabbing the "feelings that motivate useful action." In The Heart of Change, Kotter, with the help of Dan Cohen, a partner at Deloitte Consulting, shows how his eight-step approach has worked at over 100 organizations. In just about every case, change happened because the players were led to "see" and "feel" the change. In one example, a sales representative underscores a sense of urgency to change a manufacturing process by showing a videotaped interview with an unhappy customer; in another, a purchasing manager makes his point to senior management about corporate waste by displaying on the company's boardroom table the 424 different kinds of gloves that the company had procured through different vendors at vastly different prices. Well written and loaded with real-life examples and practical advice, The Heart of Change towers over other change-management titles. Managers and employees at organizations both big and small will find much to draw from. Highly recommended. --Harry C. Edwards

From Publishers Weekly

"Never underestimate the power of a good story," Kotter and Cohen testify in this highly readable sequel to Kotter's groundbreaking Leading Change. Practicing what they preach, they have culled, from hundreds of interviews conducted by Deloitte Consulting, the 34 most instructive and vivid accounts of companies undergoing large-scale change. With chapters organized by each of the eight stages of change Kotter identified in his 1996 bestseller, the authors deftly contrast success stories with fumbles, then utilize the compare-and-contrast format for lively "how-to/how-not-to" discussion. Throughout, they pepper their discussion with arresting (and quotable) aphorisms, such as "Dying will not help" and "Honesty always trumps propaganda," to ensure that readers remain on task, engaged and awake. Viewed in stages with concrete examples and convenient end-of-chapter summaries, the challenges and opportunities of the change process emerge in sharp relief. Kotter and Cohen demonstrate the critical difference that focus, faith, leadership, commitment and creativity make in winning employees' hearts, offering good stories that truly apply to each topic. "The single biggest challenge in the process is changing people's behavior," they insist, while providing convincing evidence (as well as examples of the effectiveness of videos and creative visual displays) that their method of "see-feel-change" will enable a company to overcome resistance lurking in its midst.
Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information, Inc.
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 190 pages
  • Publisher: Harvard Business Review Press; 1st edition (August 1, 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1578512549
  • ISBN-13: 978-1578512546
  • Product Dimensions: 9.5 x 6.4 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (113 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #199,614 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
I will admit to being skeptical when I was first introduced to this book. I had not read the original book, "Leading Change" by John Kotter for the same reason that I was reluctant this time...books that focus on change mangement are generally too dry and formula driven. This book was also driven upon the 8-step process highlighted in the first book.
However, I was told that the book focused this time more on the behavior changes of people that are needed to make change successful...and from experience, I knew that getting employees to really want to make a change makes all the difference to a successful change effort.
The book uses stories to describe how to educate and motivate others to accept change through the 8-step process. If you just look at the eight steps, they appear dry and built on well-worn cliches. Increase Urgency, Build the Guiding Team, Get the Vision Right, Communicate for Buy-In, Empower Action, Create Short-Term Wins, Don't Let Up, and Make Change Stick. Certainly, anyone that has led change can figure this out.
However, I found the stories to be very practical in describing the concept of See, Feel, Change that is needed by all employees to really embrace the change emotionally and not just logically. They have to want to change their own behaviors, not just for the project, but forever. The story I could relate to the most was "The Boss Goes to Switzerland". I have seen this happen numerous times for others and myself.
This book has practical content that can be referred to over and over again...I will use this book each time a new change initiative gets underway. Recommended for all business leaders.
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Format: Hardcover
This book is the distilled summary of 400 detailed interviews from over 130 companies on the topic of managing change. The common thread across success stories is 1. Change is best done in big leaps than in gradual increments. 2. Change is an EIGHT-STAGE process. 3. The vital challenge at each stage is to bring about change in behavior - not strategy, systems or culture. 4. The "see, feel and change" approach is sustaining than the "analyze, think and change" approach since it influences feelings. The book goes on to explain each of the "eight stages" in detail with relevant case studies or stories narrated in first person. At the end of each chapter there is a small exercise that is recommended done with a team. There is also a crisp summary of what works, what does not work and stories to remember.
It is interesting to see that at the end of the book, it is recommended that to introduce change, it is better not to attempt to change the Culture at the outset. ("A controversial but very important point. In a change effort, culture comes last, not first"). Such an attempt would be futile since culture evolves over a long period. It is the change in behavior through the eight-stage process that is key and cultural change would follow. Each of the eight stages - Increase urgency, build the guiding team, get the vision right, communicate for buy-in, empower action, create short-term wins, don't let up, make change stick- are equally important. There are several examples to reinforce the importance of each stage and also to demonstrate that the lack of attention to any one of these is a prescription for failure.
The "see, feel and change" approach appeals to the heart.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I'm now in a "Change Management" role with my work, and decided to read some texts on the subject to further my understanding of the topic. Of those books that I've read, this one has clearly been the most helpful. Kotter articulates the steps of change in a way that connected with me, and made it real with a number of relevant examples. It's not onerous to read (<200 pages) but equally isn't "lightweight." While I would never recommend reading only a single book on the topic, I would definitely recommend that this be one of the books you read!
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Format: Hardcover
This book was first published in 2002 and I recently re-read it, curious to know how well John Kotter's core concepts have held up since then. My conclusion? Very well indeed. The Heart of Change is in several respects a sequel to Kotter's previously published classic, Leading Change, in which he observes that "Over the past decade, I have watched more than a hundred companies try to remake themselves into significantly better competitors...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."

Whereas in Leading Change Kotter examines the eight steps people tend to follow to produce new ways of operating, in this volume he and Dan Cohen examine "the core problem people face in all of those steps, and how to successfully deal with the problem." And the central issue is never strategy, structure, culture, or systems. "All these elements, and others, are important. But the core of the matter is always about changing the behavior of people, and behavior change happens in highly successful situations mostly by speaking to people's feelings." (Those who do that effectively have what Daniel Goleman characterizes as "emotional intelligence.
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