Is Our Iceberg Melting?
Are you wondering what this headline question means?
Let me give you a hint – it’s about changing and succeeding under any conditions.
Prof. John Kotter and Holger Rathbeger wrote a wonderful fable of penguins in their book “Our Iceberg is Melting”, to draw on the incredible power of good stories to influence behaviour over time. Their goal was to make individuals and groups more competent in handling change and produce better results. This is a quick read but amazingly powerful and builds on John Kotter’s 1996 book “Leading Change” and his Eight Steps (outlined in detail in the Leading Change book), to ensure successful organizational change.
The authors add, “Handle the challenge of change well, and you can prosper greatly. Handle it poorly, and you put yourself and others at risk. All too often people and organizations don’t see the need for change. We know the traps into which even very smart people fall.”
What does this have to do with you?
Well, first our iceberg is melting too. Yes, I know I haven’t defined an iceberg, but you do know what I mean with that line. Second, we need highly effective ways of dealing with this issue. Spencer Johnson, M.D, the author of “Who Moved My Cheese” wrote “Well, with Our Iceberg is Melting, everyone working in any kind of organization – and that is most people – can now discover how to use these same Eight steps and enjoy more success in these changing times.”
In this book, the authors tell us the story of how a group of penguins, in adverse conditions, use the 8 steps and successfully navigate change while overcoming their complacency and traditions.
Once upon a time, a colony of penguins was living on an iceberg in the frozen Antarctic. They had lived there for many, many years. The iceberg was surrounded by a sea rich in food. On its surface were huge walls of snow that sheltered the penguins from dreadful winters. Everything seemed fine.
Until a curious and observant penguin named Fred discovers that the Iceberg, they are staying on is melting and might break apart soon.
I won’t give the details of the story (it is a short one anyway) but it’s all about the heroic journey of Fred and the other characters (Alice, Louis, Buddy, Jordan, and the perennial pessimist NoNo (well he is the classic why change guy)) to save their colony of penguins.
Read this story (book) if you can. I strongly recommend it.
In any case ask yourself this question: Am I living on a melting iceberg or an iceberg that could melt?
Melting Icebergs come in different forms for us industry: changing nature of competition, risk of succession (most don’t have succession insurance; solo MFDs are exposed to this in a big way) changing regulations and business models, outdated value propositions, a business strategy that makes very little sense, a new way of doing business whose implementation is actually sinking.
Prof. John Kotter’s Eight Step Process for navigating your melting iceberg is as follows –
- Create a Sense of Urgency:
See and help others see the need for change and the importance of acting immediately.
- Pull together the guiding team:
Make sure there is a powerful group guiding the change – one with leadership skills, credibility, communication ability, authority, analytical skills, and a sense of urgency.
- Develop the Change Vision and Strategy:
Clarify how the future will be different from the past, and how you can make that future a reality.
- Communicate for Understanding and Buy In:
Make sure as many others as possible understand and accept the vision and strategy.
- Empower Others to Act:
Remove as many barriers as possible so that those who want to make the vision a reality can do so.
- Produce Short Term Wins:
Create some visible short-term successes as soon as possible.
- Don’t let up:
Press harder and faster after the initial successes. Be relentless with initiating change after change until the vision is a reality.
- Create a New Culture:
Hold on to the new ways of behaving, and make sure they succeed, until they become strong enough to replace old traditions.
You can apply these eight steps to any melting iceberg whether it is business or life.
But are you the one who believes that your iceberg is not melting or will never melt? I sincerely hope and wish not.
In that case, the question you should ask yourself NOW is – “What am I doing about my melting iceberg?”