Book review by Zanele Njapha – UnLearning Expert
John Kotter, a leadership and change management guru from Harvard Business school collaborated with modern global manager, Holger Rathgeber to write this fable-based book to teach the critical concepts of change management to any and everyone.
The book looks at the story of an Antarctica based colony of penguins whose entire existence is changed by the discovery that their home/iceberg is melting, putting the entire colony at great risk. The majestic Emperor penguins have lived on this iceberg for decades, but one of the penguins (Fred), who is a young and immensely curious member of the group has discovered through ongoing observation, that change is greatly needed for the survival of the colony.
Hiding the effective 8 step Process of Successful Change in a light-hearted fable allows not only organizations, but individuals to create and manage lasting change.
- Creating A Sense of Urgency – Unless the change is seen as urgent and in need of attention, mobilization is almost impossible. Fred was able to create this sense of urgency when he took his observation to the executive council.
- Pull Together the Guiding Team – The head penguin assisted in drafting a project team, made up of task teams that was dedicated to the particular issue at hand. This group, as in the fable, is to be made up of a relevant, yet diverse skill and knowledge set.
- Develop The Change Vision and Strategy – The penguins created a slogan around a positive vision for the future home. The vision was spread and even taught and promoted at community schools (perceivably lowest/entry level members of the society).
- Communicate For Understanding and Buy In – Members of the community were workshopped, presented to and engaged on what change did and could mean for their society, in order that they may support the evolution.
- Empower Others To Act – This step is around removing barriers that inhibit action and making the vision and realized reality. The colony had to eliminate or reduce the fear, pessimism and fatigue/demotivation beginning to form as the colony began to prepare for action.
- Produce Short-Term Wins – In order to keep morale and energy high, goals must be broken into stages in order that team members have ongoing successes along the road.
- Don’t Let Up – This can be highly tempting, especially considering that executive council members after the first few successes were beginning to question and fatigue. It’s critical to stay relentless and drive the change until it is manifested.
- Create A New Culture – Ensure that the unlearning has happened. Change is not easy, but in order to ensure that change has been successful, there must have been a cultural change that has occurred. This means a default or deeply engrained belief must have been UNLEARNED and replaced by another, in order to ensure the change with sustain.
The book is strongly recommended to organizations that desire the secrets to CRACKING THE UNLEARNING CODE. It gives practical and easily understandable insights on how sustainable changes in organizations can and have successfully occurred in the past.
In the face of disruptive change, Zanele assists organizations to become futurefit: adaptable, resilient, innovative, proactive and confident through helping them crack the unlearning code.
She does this by facilitating the understanding that learning, unlearning and relearning must be the crux and heart of an organisation’s DNA if they are serious about being future-fit.
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