John P. Kotter is renowned for his books dedicated to problems of the effective management, leadership and introduction of change. In this respect, Our Iceberg Is Melting is one of the recent works created by the author to reveal the complexity of change and importance of the effective leadership and management within the organization in the time of change. At the same time, the book shows how important it is to motivate people to start change and the leader should organize his or her subordinates to implement the change.
In fact, the book Our Iceberg Is Melting is a fable, where the main characters are penguins but they solve real problems. The author uses allegory to depict the human society, which he represents as a community of penguins facing a real problem that threatens to their future and survival. In such a way, the author shows that often people remain unaware of existing problems and they are not ready to accept the very fact of the existence of the problem as penguins did at first. However, the effective introduction of the change and overcoming the resistance to change have proved to be crucial for the overall success of the penguins and, apparently, this would lead to success of a manager, who would be in a position of decision maker and introducer of a change. In this regard, the author suggests the eight-step model of introducing the change and overcoming the resistance to change, which he has already described in details in his previous book Leading Change (1996).
In fact, the author places emphasis on the fact that management should lead their organizations to the change and to explain the necessity of change to be introduced because management deals mostly with the status quo and leadership deals mostly with change, in the next century we are going to have to try to become much more skilled at creating leaders. (Kotter, 1996, 95). In such a way, through understanding of the necessity of change managers and leaders should come to the implementation of the change and involvement of the personnel into the change.
In this regard, Kotter suggests the Eight-steps model of change, which can be clearly traced not only in Our Iceberg is Melting but also in Leading Change that proves that the author’s view on the change have not changed much. First, the author recommends establishing a sense of urgency. In Leading Change, he argues that a higher rate of urgency does not imply ever present panic, anxiety, or fear. It means a state in which complacency is virtually absent. (Kotter, 1996, 187). In Our Iceberg Is Melting, the author shows how penguins, especially pragmatic Professor, attempt to introduce the change as soon as possible and to persuade the community in the necessity of the change.
The second step is forming a powerful guiding coalition, which was the team of penguins, who have come to the idea of the existing threat and essential change to be made to save the colony of penguins. They united their efforts to cope with the threat. In this regard, they arrived to the third step -creating a vision. In fact, the main characters of the book elaborate the common vision of the existing problem and its possible solution. On elaborating the vision, they pass to the next step – communicating vision when they attempt to persuade other penguins in the necessity of the change and its fast introduction. All their efforts are directed to meet the next stage of the change model developed by Kotter – empowering others to act on the vision. As the team promotes its ideas, it gains more and more supporters to eventually implement the change. On the other hand, they develop and implement the change rationally. They do not act chaotically. In contrast, as soon as they gain the support of the community, the penguins start planning for and creating short-term wins. The short-term wins bring positive results to the community and the team work. As a result, the confidence of the community in the overall success of the plan developed by the team of penguins to implement the change grows stronger. In such a situation, they arrive to the next stage in the implementation of the change – consolidating improvements and producing still more change. As they complete the change, they focus on institutionalizing new approaches making them closely integrated in the regular life of their community.
On the other hand, the author warns against the resistance to change. This idea can be traced in Leading Change as well: In an ever changing world, you never learn it all, even if you keep growing into your 90s. (Kotter, 1996, 198). In Our Iceberg Is Melting, the author shows that the majority of penguins underestimated the threat to their community and was unwilling to introduce the change. However, the book shows how important the management and leadership are in the introduction of the change on the ground of his eight-steps model.
Kotter, J.P. (1996). Leading Change. Harvard Business Press.
Kotter, J.P. (2006). Our Iceberg Is Melting. New York: St. Martin’s Press.