Our Iceberg Is Melting – changing and succeeding under adverse conditions
Kirjoittanut: Saana Keränen - tiimistä FLIP Solutions.
Our iceberg is melting
John Kotter & Holger Ratgeber
It is important to remember that people are emotional beings. We might think that we base our decision on facts and data but emotions are always involved. It’s also very common for people to fear change on some level, even someone who feels like they are open to change might always want to hold on to certain beliefs.
The point of my essay is to make the reader understand the importance of feelings in making decisions. People like to (at least feel like) they are basing their feelings on fact, so it is also very important to offer others actual knowledge, not just your own opinion. Even big changes that often feel difficult to implement or get people to agree on, can be solved in a systematic way. The book “Our iceberg is melting” by John Kotter and Holder Rathgeber was recommended to me as an easy read that offers a practical and solution-based approach to making a change in an organization.
This book is written in a story format. In the beginning, it might feel weird and not productive to be reading a story about penguins and their fear that the iceberg is melting, but when the story goes on it’s actually funny how relatable it seems. Different penguins have different attitudes and approaches to situations and I found myself often thinking “that’s just what X person that I know would say or do”
It is often a mistake to think that you can affect people’s behaviour by simply telling them that “this is how you should do it in the future” a better approach is to talk about facts and try to influence feelings, to make people want to make the change themselves. For example, even if you do have a plan for something already, it can be beneficial to start by just discussing the topic first to find out what people really think and want.
According to the authors, the most important thing in making a change happen successfully is to create a sense of urgency. When people feel like the change has to happen fast they will take action. Often when something new is just talked about, people might show real interest but then not actually take action because it’s easier and more comfortable to just stay in the current situation. This one especially I feel is a problem we run into at Proakatemia a lot. I have had countless conversations with other teampreneurs about things they would like to do differently. Whether it’s about using ressu or the way we write essays or use our facilities, the one thing that is always missing is any sense of urgency.
Another point that stood out as an important one to me is that when making significant changes, it’s important to have a vision of the future. Make it clear how the future will be different from the current situation so things don’t seem too vague. Any time that we talk about the upcoming move to Kuntokatu, since we don’t know what to fully expect, the conversation easily just gets stuck on the things we might lose. The first time I had an in-depth conversation with someone about the move and all the positive changes we could make to the problems we face now it actually got me excited about the whole thing. And yes, I am aware that I won’t be there for the move but that’s beside the point.
Not everyone is of course going to be interested in reading a penguin story and maybe this book just simply isn’t for everyone, but there definitely is more to the book than just the story. In the end, the author goes into breaking down what actually happened in the book and how it can be applied to real life. Different people process information very differently. For some, it might be clear after just reading the story of the penguins, what the book is trying to teach us. Others are more fact-oriented and want to just jump straight to the technique given, and I honestly think that’s fine when it comes to this book. The book gives a clear 8 step technique on how to implement change in a team or an organisation.
1) establish a sense of urgency
- when people feel that a change truly needs to happen and fast, they will actually take action
2) create a guiding coalition
- There must be a strong group to take the change forward. This group has to have good leadership and communication skills, be trustworthy, have authority and the ability to be analytical
3) develop a vision and strategy
- the difference between the past and the future has to be clear and you need to be able to show how to achieve that future
4) communicate the change vision
- make sure that as many people as possible understand and are on board with your vision and strategy
5) empower employees for broad-based action
- try to eliminate any obstacles so that those who want to can put in their best work and make the vision a reality
6) generating short-term wins
- quick wins will create momentum
7) consolidate gains and produce more change
- keep moving forward
8) anchor new approaches in the culture
- embed the new change in the group culture
In conclusion, I would point out a theme that I feel is repeated throughout this book, freedom of expression. The authors don’t actually use this term, but I personally see it as an important part of the whole prosses. A traditional work environment often creates obstacles with authority and other systems that are there to keep people “in their lane.” Although these systems were often likely put there to create order and therefore help people do their jobs, that’s not the reality. We miss out on great ideas and ways of doing things just because the people with those ideas either feel like it’s not their place or don’t know how to bring them forward. By focusing on the points made in this book, we can create a workplace where everyone feels they can express their opinions and trust that the decisions made are well informed and in the organization’s best interest.