Our Iceberg Is Melting by John Kotter Essay

“Once upon a time a colony of penguins was living in the frozen Antarctic on an iceberg near what we call today Cape Washington. ” The following summary will explain the key moments of the fable and how they relate to our lives.

First, let’s introduce some of the more important penguins – the Leadership Council members. Louis, the head of the Leadership Council, could perhaps be considered the CEO of the penguin colony. Alice is a smart, aggressive member of the council, and is Fred’s loyal confidant.

Buddy is a young penguin council member who may not be the brightest bulb in the box, but brings an element of trust among the council members. Fred is the most curious of all of the penguins; although he was an ‘unknown’ penguin in the beginning, he ultimately plays a very important role in the change process. Jordan, also known as the “Professor,” was the brains of the council; he could perhaps be considered the ‘researcher’ of the group. Although the penguins start out simply as individuals, in the end, they are a well working team capable of effectively managing change.

Fred, a quite curious penguin, studies the wonderful iceberg that the penguins consider home. He comes across a problem which suggests that their beloved iceberg may be in danger of cracking into tiny pieces. Yet, he does not know what to do. How does he approach the Leadership Council; after all, he is “just another penguin. ” He turns to Alice, as she has a reputation of making things happen. Fred presents his case to her and then takes her to see the evidence with her own eyes. Once he ‘sells’ her on his speculations, they begin to plan how they are going to tell the remainder of the council.

Louis, the Head Penguin, then calls an assembly. With all of the evidence and examples provided by the team, interest and curiosity sparked which reduced complacency and increased urgency, step one in the eight step process of successful change. In essence, they saw a problem, figured how to professionally address it and brought it to the forefront which increased the urgency of the situation. Now, Louis, as Head Penguin, starts to ponder how he is supposed to fix this problem. He analyzed and researched who he should get to help him because he realized that he could not do it alone.He decided to pull together a team to guide the needed change. Alice, Fred, Buddy, and Jordan were assigned to be the task team.

Step two, pull together the guiding teamAfter obtaining suggestions from other penguins, they encounter a seagull. They see the nomadic lifestyle that seagulls live, and this particular seagull’s job was known as scouting, going ahead of the group to look for their next home. This created a vision which all members of the guiding team were in agreement with. Step three: develop the change vision and strategy. Since the group had a new vision it was time to get the message out.Louis gave a “we are not an iceberg” pep talk to get the colony.

Once the assembly was over there was a buzz about the new vision around the iceberg. It was now the responsibility of the guiding team to keep the concept in the eyes of the penguins by communicating the new vision. They created posters and creative slogans. Step four: communicate for understanding and buy in.

However, all ideas cannot always hit the ground running with visible results. The above mentioned communication tactics caused enthusiastic planners to become doubtful and unenthusiastic.The guiding team realized they needed to re-assess the situation immediately. This is again where Buddy comes into play with his way with words.

Buddy spoke with the teacher, in his kind way, and reassured the importance of the change to her. After the teacher reassured her chicks that the change was positive, Sally Ann wanted to help. After a brief run-in with Alice, Sally Ann realized anyone can help and be a hero, and she wanted to be one. Thanks to yet another “no name penguin” “Tribute to Our Heroes Day” was created to welcome back the scouts.

In addition, the school children collected fish to feed to the scouts when they returned. This helped make everyone feel empowered. Step five: empower others to act. Everyone’s vision had a chance to become reality no matter how “small” they were. Fred was now put in charge of selecting an elite group for scouting. This brought up another change in tradition by providing food for other adults or any penguin other than your own children. The guiding team again relied on the chicks, the everyday workers, to enforce the idea throughout the colony.

The scouts created “a short-term win. They all returned successfully to tell of all they saw proving. Sally Ann presented them with HERO metals and she was presented with the original glass bottle. Step six: producing short-term wins to keep spirits high and the faith in the change. Fred was asked again to form a second wave of scouts, which included the professor. This second wave found a suitable iceberg. On May 12th the chaotic move began.

Everything worked out as well as could be expected. The very next season they would not let up in keeping with the new vision and change. They worried the colony would be resistant to change again.Yet, they found a better home with more fish supply, so they moved again. Keeping up with the time so you do not come across a problem which cannot be solved.

If you do abandon the new vision you just step back from your competitors in a business world. They continued to change and adapt by changing up the out-dated council members. The professor was the new weather forecaster. Fred was head of scouts as well as a new member of the Leadership Council. Buddy was offered a position but turned it down.

Louis became the “grandfather” and the colony began to rely on Alice as the new Head Penguin.The colony ensured that changes would not be over come by stubborn, hard-to-die traditions. Step eight: create a new culture.

This is essential in the fable as well as in the business world. You must build on your new business culture because if you fall back to your old traditions you will be left behind. This book demonstrates the eight steps of successfully managing change. It is a story that is simple and easily related to managing change in a business. This is one book that will serve a purpose of reference in my personal library. I would recommend this to anyone facing a change no matter the situation.

You can relate.