Sunday, October 25, 2009

Our Iceberg is Melting

Book Review

Title : Our Iceberg Is Melting (OIIM)
By John Kotter & Holger Rathgeber

This 'story' is based on the 8 steps outlined by the Leadership Guru John Kotter in his book Leading Change. Basically what it does is applies a 'Who Moved My Cheese' type of story telling approach to Leading Change. The analogy is applied neatly and enables one to relate closely.

I haven't read the previous book, Leading Change by Kotter, however the OIIM book does provide a quick summary of the 8 steps, which you can refer to before reading the story, or leaving it to the end for a nice summary.

The book is in pretty plain language, a quick read ( maybe 2 hours) so it is one of those books you can pick up and finish in one evening, in the book's own words, it's a quick win to your accomplished books read list.

It starts off with penguins living their usual days. And one penguin notices that the ice is melting and so starts the story of leading change. And then... well not to spoil the story so enjoy the book.

I think one good way to be able to apply and relate theories and ideas, is to make or write and apply possible applications to our one lives, be it work or personal. Here I'll try one, my personal interpretation.

1. Create urgency.
First things first. Prioritize. Common keywords. So the problem or issue on hand needs to be brought into light, make people aware and motivated to get involved, and resolve it.
Get people to talk about the change being proposed, i.e. it becomes table talk, probably I have made up the urgency in people. If people start seeing and agreeing to the need to change, it has become an urgency. Framing is a good approach. Frame the change opportunity as not only as an opportunity, but as removing a potential threat, say delays, resource issues or the competition. Sometimes not only the team but the myself might be faced with new issues or other urgent matters that puts this change 'off-track'. I guess the best way is to have milestones to track on at least a weekly basis and to constantly communicate the plan, the need and the urgency.

2. Form a powerful colition
Look for key players and get them on your team. Yes, probably it'll be hard to get your Director onto your team, so here's where the roles 'advisor, sponsor' etc comes aboard. Also get your 'people person' which people feel comfortable talking to, accepting and relating ideas to. Usually someone at the roots. Definitely get your SMEs (Subject Matter Experts). Also an individual which strongly believes in the change and has utter urgency and pushes for closures.

3. Create a vision for change
Look for a realistic vision. Improve efficiency by cutting down non-value added process, being .. and ... Or by removing non value added services. Can the team, the people relate to this? Does it make sense to every level? Remember 'build' a team, build the relationship, rapport and TRUST. Group lunch or lunch meetings might be a good approach.

4. Communicate the vision
Now tell people about it. Talk about it. Accepting change is difficult. If people start to believe and speak it, they'd probably be more comfortable to 'walk the talk'.

Also what's the strategy. How are you going to achieve it? KISS (Keep it Simple and Succinct). Or what I like to say, KISS it.

5. Remove obstacles
Before removing them, clearly identify the obstacles. Sometimes obstacles are things we don't notice. Keep your eyes, and ears open.
You'll see barriers. People and non-human. It's good to have the outspoken 'informal' leaders on your side, but it's not always the case is it? Well, only constant is change, so change the obstacles. Sedate it. Or bring them to enlighten. Talk to them and help them see why.

6. Create short-term wins
Per, look for sure-fire projects. When you look deep enough, or have a good brainstorming session, you will find low laying fruits, identify them, put them in the milestone and pluck them! Keeps morale high and people hungry for more.

Also have milestones, so if your project is a long term one, shorter milestones create a 'winning' feel once achieved.

Consider recognizing and rewarding the enabler, encouraging further commitment and spirit from the team to achieve the long term goal.

7. Build on the change
Change done? Look deep down at it. Do a post-mortem. What went wrong and what went right. NOT finger pointing. Then change again. A new project or product? Apply the process to our sub teams.

Remember there's is always room for improvement, Kaizen. Especially when you have tools involved, you can automate many tasks and process. And probably remove many as well. Remember Ford's 'conveyor belt' / production line system. That's a BIG change. So once you've gone thru the big change, how do you continuously improve? Let people work on the job, and they'll have more inputs and suggestions.

But keep it fresh, and new people do bring in new ideas.

8. Anchor the changes into corporate culture
'Culturize' change. The only constant is Change. Recognize the success of change. Encourage it, don't question the ideas, but request justification.

People have hearts and souls, and usually do want to change things for the better, unless they get complacent, or just frustrated with the 'bureaucracy'. Notice how bureaucracy can sound like bureucrazy.


So what am I changing next? Process and mentality seems like a fun challenge for me now.

Reference from Leading Change and Our Iceberg is Melting.