The Heart of Change

Zippo Heart (Color)Having just read Kotter's Leading Change (my review), a colleague recommended following that with his The Heart of Change: Real-Life Stories of How People Change Their Organizations (or visit the book website).  It is just as the subtitle says, stories of how people have changed their organizations, and the book is organized directly along Kotter's 8-step process.  My ideal review would simply take the conclusion and reprint here.  But I don't have that, so here is what I have.

Throughout the book, Kotter emphasizes two things - more so than in Leading Change.  One, leading change is all about changing people's behavior.  And two, the path through all the stories is about "See, Feel, Change." 

Changing behavior might be the obvious: we want people to do X instead of Y.  (Hopefully, it is more like doing X instead of A, B, C, D, E and F.)  Or it might be more subtle change, like to focus on a different part of the business (customers vs equipment).  Whatever that change, there can be a lot of inertia built up over time, and the change process that Kotter recommends addresses many different aspects of making that behavior change.  I'm still intrigued that "culture" is the last step of the change process instead of the first.

And "See, Feel, Change" is how Kotter sees all the story examples operating.  Change leaders help people see the required change - and not just in printed reports or boring slide shows.  The see / feel combination has to make a connection to people at a gut level: piles of scrap, videos of angry / delighted customers, etc.  Based on Kotter's experience, it is only then that people take up the reins and motivation for the change. 

Sure, there is more than these seemingly simple aspects to change, but without these elements, "change" only lasts as long as there is focus.  When the focus vanishes, so does the change. 

The other thing about this combination of books: I borrowed them from the library, but I think I need them in my at-hand library.  While the 8 steps are pretty easy to find for reference, I had a lot of thoughts and ideas and inspiration as I read through the books.  It would be a good idea to have them at hand when thinking about the next "change" I'm involved with.

[Photo: "Zippo Heart (Color)" by Robert Fornal]

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