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Book Review: Leading Change By John P. Kotter.

1003 words - 4 pages

Leading Change by John P. Kotter. Harvard Business School Press, 1996.In light of the increasing rate of change in the business environment due to factors such as technological advances and globalization, the need to be able to make successful transformations within an organization becomes more imperative than ever before. In Leading Change, Kotter identifies an eight-step guide for making successful organization changes. These eight steps stem from avoiding common mistakes made during organizational change efforts seen in the past , such as: too much complacency; failing to create a powerful guiding coalition; underestimating the power of vision; under-communicating the vision; permitting obstacles to block a new vision; failing to create short term wins; declaring a victory too soon; and neglecting to anchor changes firmly into the organizational culture.To avoid these mistakes, leaders of an organization requiring changes should consider the following steps:1. Establishing a sense of urgency2. Creating a guiding coalition3. Developing a vision and strategy4. Communicating the change vision5. Empowering broad-based action6. Generating short-term wins7. Consolidating gains and producing more change8. Anchoring new approaches into the cultureIn establishing a sense of urgency , it is hoped that a leader of change will be able to direct stakeholders' drive towards a common purpose and reduce complacency. Common causes of complacency include : the absence of a crisis, low overall performance standards, wrong performance measurement indexes, too much happy talk from management, and lack of sufficient performance feedback from external sources. It is suggested that a leader creates a sense of purpose allowing weaknesses to be exposed, setting performance targets that are too high, analyze current opportunities and highlight the organizations inability to pursue them, and cut-down on the "happy talk" and listen to disgruntled customers.Very often, committees of employees devoted to making organizational change are ineffectual because they do not have the any influential, senior managers who can make changes happen and reinforce the urgency of the committee's purpose to all levels. Kotter suggests careful selection of committee members to include senior management and influential people, with care taken to avoid those employees he labels "egos" and "snakes" (i.e. those employees whose egos may take precedence over the committees agenda and those people who may undermine the trust necessary to build strong committee relationships)By developing a vision, a leader creates "a picture of the future with some implicit or explicit commentary on why people should strive to create that future." (p. 68) It not only clarifies direction but helps in motivating those people who will be affected and/or implementing change. Kotter gives examples of good and bad visions and suggests that a perfect vision should be clear and simple enough to explain within five...

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