38 of 39 people found the following review helpful
on 8 October 2002
The excellent Leading Change was the "how to" book. Kotter's sequel, The Heart of Change, is the "how did" version; filled with case studies of each step of the way.
Kotter exudes that rational business cases usually only provoke incremental change and that's what most organisations do. He describes the need for attention grabbing stimuli,to the 3 senses: Seeing,Hearing and Feeling, to provoke quantum change.
Step 1, Increase Urgency, alone is worth the price of the book.
Harrison Owen in his recent book, The Power of Spirit - How Organisations Transform, describes the importance of stories (and myths) to shaping corporate culture. Kotter's book is filled with such stories of defining moments.
I've given Heart of Change 4 stars because I think the net value of the book is incremental to its predecessor, Leading Change.
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
By interviewing 400 individuals from 130 businesses to get their change sagas, authors John P. Kotter and Dan S. Cohen further anchor the fresh approach to organizational change that Kotter presented in 'Leading Change' (1996). Their main insight: organizations change when their people change. And, people change for emotional reasons. Some readers may think that the emphasis on feelings is "soft" or even "distracting," but the authors warn against relying on spreadsheets or reports to promote transformation. They insist that the best way to engage the emotions is not to "tell" but to "show" - in videos, displays or even office design. The visual sense, they point out, processes enormous amounts of complex information instantly. At the end of each chapter, the authors include useful, modestly titled, "Exercises That Might Help." With appreciation for that level of detail, we recommend this illuminating book. Kotter has presented his eight-step change model before, but this practical, compact work demonstrates - with plainspoken stories of real-life managers and companies - how it functions. Thus the form of the book - "showing" - exactly replicates its main point.
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
This book 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.") Kotter and Cohen structure this book around the eight steps "because that is how people experience the process. There is a flow in a successful change effort, and the chapters follow that flow."
They duly acknowledge the importance of clear thinking to large-scale change when selecting a strategy, locating information and then determining what to do with it, selecting possibilities for short-term achievements (i.e. picking "low-hanging fruit"), and formulating periodic progress reports. That said, I agree with Kotter and Cohen that effective leaders are sensitive to the emotions that undermine change (e.g. false pride, pessimism, cynicism, insecurity, and fear of the unknown), and they find ways to reduce those feelings.
Effective leaders are also sensitive to the emotions that facilitate change (e.g. faith, trust, optimism, reality-based pride, enthusiasm), and they find ways to nourish and enhance those feelings. Most important of all, effective leaders master the "See-Feel-Change" approach: They help others to recognize a problem or a solution to a problem, then help them to visualize it as concretely as possible, anchored in human terms, so that they will be emotionally committed to the given change initiatives. Kotter and Cohen devote a separate chapter to each of the eight steps, explaining with a series of real-life stories how various people changed their organizations and how others can change theirs. John Kotter and Dan Cohen understand, of course, that change initiatives inevitably encounter resistance. However, they have demonstrated in their book that almost anyone can help give direction to, or energize, at least a part of one the eight steps. "We need more of these people, and there is no reason we cannot have more. We need more people doing what they already do, but better - and there is no reason why that also is not possible." I agree.
This book is not to be read alone but rather following John Kotter's Leading Change.
Set out in the eight stages the stories are used to underpin the importance of each stage giving tales that are often inspiring and ones that you would want to use in your own workplace. The writing is clear and can easily be completed within a few hours.
The downside to this book is, as with Leading Change, that the eight stages are more leveled at the senior management level of a business. For an individual trying to either lead change at a lower level, or indeed manage their own response to change, the steps would not be well suited.