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Leading Change - Professor John P. Kotter
Review and Critique by Ilker Cingillioglu, 11/02/2010
In a world of rapidly changing business environment to help organizations stay ahead of the competition, world-renowned Harvard Professor John P. Kotter has conducted a substantive work that illuminated some of the most crucial factors which determine the fundamental elements of leading a successful organizational transition.
In his jargon-free example-rich book, Kotter explicates the seemingly flexible but in fact a rough eight-stage change process, which he associates each of these stages with one of the eight common mistakes that hamper successful transition efforts.
The stages are:
1) Establishing a Sense of Urgency
2) Creating the Guiding Coalition
3) Developing a Vision and Strategy
4) Communicating the Change Vision
5) Empowering Employees for Broad-Based Action
6) Generating Short-term Wins
7) Consolidating Gains and Producing More Change
8) Anchoring New Approaches in the Culture
Throughout his book Kotter provides extremely insightful and practical examples in regards to overcoming insider myopia and listening to outsiders' opinions, the importance of creating short-term wins by selecting the right people with a strong vision and effective strategy to steer others through change and how modern leadership, continuous improvement and lifelong learning are integral to drive the transition process in a socially healthy way.
Although the book presents a clear and viable guide to an organized means of leading, it still lacks some of the most important human implication and cultural factors peculiar to the new generation and that hinder organizations from successful change initiatives. For instance, Kotter takes complacency as a barrier that needs to be overcome in the first place, but in reality it is not anymore that simple to achieve it because admitting to become less complacent may mean to many leaders of tomorrow becoming less self-confident, weak and less assertive. Recent research showed that due to the soaring severity of individual competition at all levels of management, they build a propensity to put their short-term own interests before the overall long-term performance of the companies they work for. No matter how hard they may look like trying to overcome complacency, leaders of the next generation are willing to take such risks for neither themselves nor their companies, thus making complacency ever present.
Despite its phenomenal success, this book misses the whole idea of technology-based improvisational change and the increasingly evolving trend of individualism over collectivism prevalent among the leaders of the 21st century. Therefore in my opinion, this book is not anymore as relevant today as it was more than a decade ago.
Though outdated, still top quality work. Highly recommended.