John P. Kotter

For nearly four decades, Dr. John Kotter has been studying managers and executives who work in complex organizations. His focus has been on a broad range of questions: Who are these people? What are the key challenges they face in their work? What do they actually do on the job? Why are some much more effective and/or successful than others? How does true organizational change happen in the real world of business? This stream of work has enabled him to uncover vital characteristics and principles for any successful change effort, as well as to help leaders lead their own organizations in better ways. Through his work, Kotter wants to provide useful ways of thinking about leadership in these large, multi-faceted companies, and show why that kind of leadership is particularly important today. He seeks to help firms fill significant gaps in their leadership capacity, and to become literate in the “8-Step Process for Leading Change,” as well as to help them understand the critical differences between leadership and management. This can only be done by working directly with these organizations, by not only teaching the principles, but also putting the principles to work in real-world change efforts. Dr. Kotter speaks to audiences in a highly dynamic and interactive fashion, and during his presentation, he utilizes slides, video clips and other media to relate how some companies fail and some succeed. He then opens up the floor for comments and suggested outcomes or solutions. This type of format allows audiences to interact and be a part of the demonstration of change. Participation is vital in order to achieve successful transformation. When Dr. Kotter speaks to his audience, he speaks with one and only one goal: to motivate action that gets better results.


The 8 Step Process
Thirty years of research by leadership guru Dr. John Kotter have proven that 70% of all major change efforts in organizations fail. Why do they fail? Because organizations often do not take the holistic approach required to see the change through. However, by following the 8 Step Process outlined by Professor Kotter, organizations can avoid failure and become adept at change. By improving their ability to change, organizations can increase their chances of success, both today and in the future. Without this ability to adapt continuously, organizations cannot thrive. Dr. Kotter has proven over his years of research that following this 8 Step Process will help organizations succeed in an ever-changing world.

Buy-In: Saving Your Good Idea from Being Shot Down
So, you believe in a good idea. You’re convinced it is needed badly, and needed now. But, you can’t make it happen on your own. You need support in order to implement it and make things better. You or your allies present the plan. You present it well. Then, along with thoughtful issues being raised, come the confounding questions, inane comments, and verbal bullets—either directly at you or, even worse, behind your back. It doesn’t matter that the idea is needed, insightful, innovative, and logical, or whether the issues involved are extremely important to a business, an individual, or even a nation. The proposal is still shot down, or accepted but without sufficient support to achieve all of its true benefits, or slowly dies a sad death. What do you do? This is not a book about persuasion and communication in general, or even about all the useful methods people use to create buy-in. Instead, here Kotter offers a single method that can be unusually powerful in building strong support for a good idea, a method that is rarely used or used well, and that does not require blinding rhetorical skills or charismatic magic. This method of walking into the fray, showing respect for all, and using simple, clear, and common sense responses, can not only keep good ideas from getting shot down, but can actually turn attacks to your advantage in capturing busy peoples’ attention, helping them grasp an idea, and ultimately building strong buy-in

Our Iceberg Is Melting
Our Iceberg Is Melting is a simple fable about doing well in an ever-changing world. Based on the award-winning work of Harvard’s John Kotter, it is a story that has been used to help thousands of people and organizations. The fable is about a penguin colony in Antarctica. A group of beautiful emperor penguins live as they have for many years. Then, one curious bird discovers a potentially devastating problem threatening their home, and pretty much no one listens to him. The characters in the story, Fred, Alice, Louis, Buddy, the Professor, and NoNo, are like people we recognize — even ourselves. Their tale is one of resistance to change and heroic action, seemingly intractable obstacles and the most clever tactics for dealing with those obstacles. It’s a story that is occurring in different forms all around us today — but the penguins handle the very real challenges a great deal better than most of us. Our Iceberg Is Melting is based on pioneering work that shows how the 8 Steps produce needed change in any sort of group. It’s a story that can be enjoyed by anyone while at the same time providing invaluable guidance for a world that just keeps moving faster and faster.

What is the Difference Between Management & Leadership?
Management makes systems of people and technology work well day after day, week after week, year after year. It also encompasses planning & budgeting; organizing and staffing; controlling and problem solving; taking complex systems of people and technology and making them run efficiently and effectively, hour after hour, day after day.

Leadership creates the systems that managers manage and changes them in fundamental ways to take advantage of opportunities and to avoid hazards. It is also responsible for creating vision and strategy; communicating setting setting direction; motivating action; aligning people; creating systems that managers can manage and transforming them when needed to allow for growth, evolution, opportunities and hazard avoidance

What happens when organizations have different amounts of management and leadership?

When organizations have high competencies in management and leadership, they’re able to meet challenges today as well as tomorrow. However, most organizations are usually lacking one or the other. When management exists without leadership, the company is often unable to change. And when leadership exists without management, the company is only as strong as its charismatic leader. Most of the time, organizations are overstaffed with managers, but lack enough leadership to help them deal with constant change.

True Urgency
The toughest of the 8 steps and the most often overlooked is the process of increasing the urgency in an organization for the need for change. Urgency must be core to a successful organization and it must be sustained over time. It is critical to set the stage for making a challenging leap into some new direction. Urgency is becoming increasingly important because change is shifting from episodic to continuous.That means there is a constant need for an urgent focus on what is important. True Urgency focuses on critical issues. It is driven by the deep determination to win, not anxiety about losing. Many people confuse it with false urgency. This misguided sense of urgency does have energized action, but it has a frantic aspect to it with people driven by anxiety and fear. This dysfunctional orientation prevents people from exploiting opportunities and addressing real issues. The worst thing for an organization is to step into complacency. In a fast moving and changing world, a sleepy or steadfast contentment with the status quo can create disaster – literally. A big reason that a true sense of urgency is rare is that it’s not a natural state of affairs. It has to be created and recreated. In organizations that have survived for a significant period of time, complacency is more likely the norm. Even in organizations that are clearly experiencing serious problems, devastating problems, business-as-usual can survive. Or it can be replaced by hundreds of anxiety filled, unproductive activities that are mistaken for a real sense of urgency. And in organizations that handle episodic change well, with a big initiative every five years or so, you can still find a poor capacity to deal with continuous change because urgency tends to collapse after a few successes. This last point is exceptionally important because we are moving from episodic to continuous change. With this shift, urgency will move from being an important issue every few years to being a powerful asset all the time. The urgency question is not limited to any particular class of organization or group. Insufficient urgency, with all of its consequences, can be found in winners and losers, businesses and governments. It can undermine a plant, an office, or a whole country. Conversely, in all of these situations, a high sense of urgency can help produce results, and a whole way of life, that we all desire. The good news here—and there is good news—is that a changing world offers not only many hazards but wonderful opportunities. Such is the very nature of shifting contexts. To capitalize on the opportunities requires any number of skills and resources. But it all begins with a high enough sense of urgency among a large enough group of people. Get that right and you are off to a great start. Get that right and you can produce results that you very much want, and the world very much needs.

The Head and Heart
People change because they are shown a truth that influences their feelings, not because they were given endless amounts of logical data. When changing behavior, both thinking and feeling are essential. Highly successful organizations know how to overcome antibodies that reject anything new. But first, a process of change must happen that uses both the head & the heart.


Full Biography

John P. Kotter is internationally known and widely regarded as the foremost speaker on the topics of Leadership and Change. His is the premier voice on how the best organizations actually achieve successful transformations. The Konosuke Matsushita Professor of Leadership, Emeritus at the Harvard Business School and a graduate of MIT and Harvard, Kotter’s vast experience and knowledge on successful change and leadership have been proven time and again. Most recently, Kotter has been involved in the creation and co-founding of Kotter International, a leadership organization that helps Global 5000 company leaders develop the practical skills and implementation methodologies required to lead change in a complex, large-scale business environment.

When speaking to groups, Kotter draws on the history of recent successes and failures in the business world. He explores the new rules of leadership and the importance of lifelong learning in the post- corporate world. Kotter offers the leadership tools necessary to achieve success in a business world that reinvents itself every day. He continues to speak at Harvard Business School Executive Education Programs, including the prestigious Advanced Management Program (AMP). These highly competitive professional seminars were created by Kotter to teach the important steps needed for successful leadership and change. When John Kotter speaks to an audience he speaks with one and only one goal: to motivate action that gets better results.

Kotter has authored 17 books, twelve of them bestsellers. His works have been printed in over 120 languages and total sales exceed two million copies. His latest book, Buy-In: Saving Your Good Idea from Getting Shot Down (October 2010), focuses on how to spot common attacks on your proposals and how to most effectively respond.

John Kotter’s international bestseller Leading Change—which outlines an actionable eight-step process for implementing successful transformations—has become the change bible for managers around the world. Our Iceberg Is Melting, the New York Times bestseller, puts the eight-step process within an allegory, making it accessible to the broad range of people needed to effect major organizational transformations. His books are in the top 1% of sales on

John Kotter’s articles in The Harvard Business Review over the past twenty years have sold more reprints than any of the hundreds of distinguished authors who have written for that publication during the same time period. Kotter has been on the Harvard Business School faculty since 1972. In 1980, at the age of 33, he was given tenure and a full professorship, making him one of the youngest people in the history of the University to be so honored.

His book, A Sense of Urgency, focuses on what a true sense of urgency in an organization really is, why it is becoming an important asset and how it can be created and sustained. Released in September of 2008, Urgency reached #7 on the New York Times bestseller list in early October.

The many honors won by Professor Kotter include an Exxon Award for Innovation in Graduate Business School Curriculum Design, a Johnson, Smith & Knisley Award for New Perspectives in Business Leadership, and a McKinsey Award for Best Harvard Business Review Article. Professor Kotter’s Leading Change was named the #1

Management Book of the Year by Management General. In 1998, his Matsushita Leadership won first place in the Financial Times, Booz- Allen Global Business Book Competition for biography/autobiography. In 2003, a video version of a story from his book The Heart of Change won a Telly Award. In 2006, Kotter received the prestigious McFeely Award for “outstanding contributions to leadership and management development.” In 2007, his video “Succeeding in a Changing World” was named best video training product of the year by Training Media Review and also won a Telly Award.

Expertise:  Authors | BUSINESS | Change | Leadership | Management | Motivation