‘The Iceberg is melting” is a book written by Harvard Business School’s professor John Kotter and Holger Rathgeber. It was published in September 2006. It is a fable about the Emporer Penguins of Antarctica. This parable is a business guide meant to teach managers how to find threats in the environment, convince other employees about your findings and develop a possible plan of action that might result in a drastic change throughout the organization. The story is about a penguin Fred who finds out that the iceberg that his family and friends live on is collapsing.
Most of the people around Fred make fun of him and ignore his predicament. Fred, tries to convince the others specially those who play the most important part in the community in directing change. This includes persuading Louis the head of penguins, the number two of penguins Alice, NoNo the weather expert and few other school-age penguins. Once he has them all convinced he tries to save his colony from collapsing.
The book basically tries to communicate eight change management steps through the story.
The first step is creating a sense of urgency throughout the organization. The second step entails pulling together the guiding team. The third step consists of developing change vision and strategy. The fourth step is to communication for understanding and buy in. The fifth step is to empower others to act. The sixth step is to produce short term wins. The seventh step is to not give up. The last and the final step is to create a totally new culture. Another aspect of this book is about making managers think out-of-the-box or creatively.
This can drastically help in changing behavior and lead to much better results. However, if you take the concept one step forward and combine thinking with feeling differently or creatively than it will lead to the best results possible. In my opinion, Kotter achieved his purpose and communicated a slightly monotonous idea in a truly unique way. One of the most intresting aspects of this book was that the penguin characters Fred Louis, Buddy, Alice, and the Professor are very similar to different employee personalities found in every organization.
The variety of attitudes depicted by the of the penguins were of naysayers, nitpickers, innovators, agitators, leaders and followers. Another appealing element of the book were the cartoon-like illustrations which helped understand Kotter’s view better. The book has a massive appeal for all levels of an organization. I would recommend this book to everyone because the lessons drawn from it are helpful for the family, community and organization. ‘Our Iceberg is melting’ has helped me immensly when I was working as part of the evolving software industry and changes were taking place at a rapid pace.
As a leader I continuously face challenges with the people I work with because they need to be oriented towards an expected performance. This book helped me realize how to demand excellence from my team. In the future I want to learn the traits of all the characters so that I can spot a problem from before and handle any crisis that presents itself. This would require being levelheaded and responsible like Louis, proactive like Alice, humble like Buddy, Curious like Fred and Intellectual like the Professor.