The best way to summarize this book is to dissect it into three parts. In part one the book discusses the change problem and its solution. This part focuses on two main topics; 1) Transforming organizations and why firms fail and 2) successful change and the force that drives it. Part two discusses the eight stage process in transforming an organization. Finally, in part three the book discusses the implications for the twenty –first century. Identifying the change problem can be difficult but driving solution is even more challenging. There are eight mistakes that companies make when trying to change an organization; 1) Allowing too much complacency; 2) Failing to create a sufficiently powerful guiding coalition; 3) understanding the power of vision; 4) under communicating the vision by a factor of 10; 5) permitting obstacles to block the new vision; 6) failing to create short-term views; 7) declaring victory too soon; and 8) neglecting to anchor changes firmly in the corporate culture (Kotter, 1996). By allowing too much complacency when first trying to implement change, management may miss a valuable opportunity to move to the next phase. It is important that the message be sent loud and clear to all employees within the organization that the change must be attacked with an extreme sense of urgency. It is also important for the top level of the organization to have a realistic plan in implementing change. Many times top level management overestimates how many big changes they can force early on. They also underestimate how hard it is to drive people out of their comfort zones (Kotter, 1996). In order to achieve this management must create a powerful coalition. In failing to create a powerful coalition, capable of profound leadership and a high level of expertise, the change will be short-lived. Things will improve temporarily and processes will be created but without the “all in” attitude the outsiders will undermine the advances that are made. The operations will eventually go back to the way they were before the changes were attempted. Management must understand the power of vision in order to implement it effectively. It can be very difficult to get people to change because most people are afraid of change due to the uncertainty it brings with it. It will be even more difficult to get people to buy in to the changes if they are not clearly presented with the vision. It is very important that managers understand what they expect from their employees before they try to implement the changes. Communication of the vision is extremely critical the change process cannot move forward without it. In fact, in most cases when an attempt to change fails, it is because the vision has been under communicated by a factor of 10 (or 100 or even 1,000) (Kotter, 1996). The communication of the vision has to be powerful and enticing from all levels of management. More importantly, all levels of management must act according to the vision just as they expect their lower level employees to. If employees get the “do as I say and not as I do” routine, they will become very cynical to the vision. Management must commit to the vision in order to empower the employees to embrace the vision. In some cases management will talk a big game on how they are committed to change but they allow obstacles to block the new vision. Obstacles come in many forms but most often they are financial obstacles. For example, if a machine has long past its life expectancy and the maintenance costs exceed productivity but management will not update the equipment then the improvement can’t be made. Management has to see the forest through the trees. The goal should be to create short-term wins. Most people have pride in success and when they see results from their hard work it motivates them to commit even further to the vision. If managers fail to create short-term wins employees will eventually...
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