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Our Iceberg Is Melting Hardcover – Illustrated, September 5, 2006

4.3 out of 5 stars 341 customer reviews

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About the Author
John Kotter has been on the faculty at Harvard Business School since 1972. He is the author of eleven award-winning titles and frequently gives speeches and seminars at Harvard and around the world. He lives in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Holger Rathgeber spent his early professional career in Asia. He has worked in industry since the early 1990's and is now with one of the leading medical technology companies, Bectom Dickinson. Raised in Frankfurt, Germany, Rathgeber currently resides in White Plains, New York.
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From Publishers Weekly

Harvard Business School professor Kotter, author of the bestselling Leading Change (1996), teams up with executive Rathgeber to offer his contribution to the "business fable" genre. Kotter presents his framework for an effective corporate change initiative through the tale of a colony of Antarctic penguins facing danger-inspired, perhaps, by today's real-life global warming crisis (or, perhaps, by March of the Penguins' box office). Under the leadership of one particularly astute bird, a small team of penguins with varied personalities and leadership skills implement a thoughtful plan for coaxing the other birds in their colony through a time of necessary but wrenching change. The logic of Kotter's fictional framework is wobbly at times-his characters live and act very much like real penguins except that one carries a briefcase and another ("the Professor") cites articles from scholarly journals-and the whimsical tone will not be to everyone's taste. However, this light, quick read should fulfill its intended purpose: to serve as a springboard for group discussions about corporate culture, group dynamics and the challenges of change.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 160 pages
  • Publisher: St. Martin's Press; 1st edition (September 5, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 031236198X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0312361983
  • Product Dimensions: 5.7 x 0.6 x 8.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.4 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (341 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #9,376 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Monty Rainey VINE VOICE on September 21, 2006
Format: Hardcover
Fables have been used to illustrate problem solving, among many other things, for hundreds of years. Remember Aesop's fables? Several years ago, Kenneth Blanchard successfully re-introduced using fables to teach problem solving techniques with his book, Who Moved My Cheese. John Kotter replicated that method of instruction with this fun little book, OUR ICEBERG IS MELTING. As with the aforementioned work, I believe this one will garner similar acclaim.

Kotter's engaging story introduces the 8 principles of problem solving. This can be used in a variety of venues from business, church, child raising, sports, etc. Kotter illustrates how the penguins, faced with a tumultuous dilemma, identified the problem, created urgency, developed a team-building structure, and stepped outside the box. Along the way, the story is entertaining and includes a diverse array of skepticism, cynicism and other challenges that we all face.

The book is also very well illustrated and can easily be read in a couple of hours. It is also readable for almost any age level and would probably make a good reading lesson for children as well. They will certainly be entertained, if not captivated by the illustrations and side notes. Well done.
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Format: Hardcover
In Our Iceberg Is Melting, Harvard professor John Kotter and co-author Holger Rathgeber tell the story of a colony of penguins who are facing change. The story is written in fable format similar to Who Moved My Cheese by Spencer Johnson.

An astute penguin named Fred observes that the iceberg the colony lives on is melting and that they will face potential disaster if it breaks apart in the middle of winter. He proceeds to present his findings to Alice, a member of the leadership council. Once the need for action is realized, there is no small amount of squabbling amongst the council as to next steps.

They eventually determine to let the rest of the colony know of the great risks and solicit ideas for solutions. After arriving at a creative solution through interactions with a seagull, they implement a migratory initiative to seek out new icebergs. The change is not without detractors who question the findings and argue for maintaining the status quo without addressing the risks of the melting iceberg. However, through strong leadership of the head penguin and a small action team, the penguins drove efforts to eventually relocate to a safer home.

The story has multiple examples of personalities seen commonly in organizations. There are those who are interested in arguing for the sake of arguing, the cautious, the hard driving but consensus building leaders, the creative but sometimes ignored penguins, the naysayers, those being academic in mindset but who ask tough questions, and those who just want everyone to be happy, among others.

Kotter and Rathgeber use the story to demonstrate an eight step process of successful change which includes:

1. Create a Sense of Urgency
2. Pull Together a Guiding Team
3.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Although fables have been written and shared for many centuries dating back at least to Aesop (said to have lived as a slave in Samos around 550 B.C.), it has been only in recent years that the business narrative in the form of a fable has become popular, notably with the publication of Who Moved My Cheese? By Spencer Johnson who wrote the Foreword to this volume, co-authored by John Kotter and Holger Rathgeber. I was amused when noting its subtitle, "Changing and Succeeding Under Any Conditions," having seen the Luc Jacquet's documentary film March of the Penguins, co-produced by Bonne Pioche and the National Geographic Society, in which the Emperor Penguins and those who filmed them endured (and most of the penguins survived) temperatures around the French scientific base of Dumont d'Urville in Antarctica that fell to -80° Fahrenheit. How many human enterprises could function under such conditions?

Kotter and Rathgeber offer a fable in which the central character, an Emperor Penguin named Fred, struggles without much success to convince his colony's Leadership Council that his research statistics indicate "the shrinking of the size of their home, the canals, the caves filled with water, the number of fissures, causing by [their iceberg's] melting." If they do not relocate to another iceberg soon....

What happens next is best revealed by Kotter and Rathgeber within their narrative. They are brilliant storytellers who first introduce their lead characters, and create a situation, then identify conflicts that build tension as the plot develops, until its conclusion (sort of). As with George Orwell in Animal Farm, their primary purpose, however, is not to entertain but to instruct.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
In this allegorical primer for corporate leadership, now apparently a must-read for university administrators, of all things, we learn how to create an effective leadership team, generate a sense of urgency among the peons--I mean revenue producing units--I mean workers--and dismiss dissenting voices in order to produce magical disrupto-change. It's all working really well until you realize that the course of action the penguins undertake--turning themselves into migratory birds--would completely wipe out an actual penguin colony in a matter of weeks. Read this if you work for a major corporation, or an American university, and want some insight into the rhetoric and tactics of "executive leadership." Or if you're interested in killing off a lot of penguins. Please do not read "Our Iceberg Is Melting" if you're an executive/administrator hoping to add a line or two about "transformative change" to your CV. Really. Your revenue producing units will thank you.
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