Monday, December 26, 2011

Our Iceberg is Melting!

Ini adalah tajuk sebuah buku yang dihadiahkan oleh pihak pengurusan UUM kepada kakitangannya yang berjaya mendapat phd dalam tempoh tiga tahun kebelakangan ini. Sudah hampir 3x (Ya 3 kali!) aku mengkhatamkannya. Dua kali membaca sendirian dan sekali membaca pada anak-anak dan isteri (bukan pada isteri-isteri dan anak :) [walaupun sudah beberapa sesi membacakan, menceritakan dan cuba menanamkan nilai-nilai yang hendak diserap oleh pengarang buku tersebut pada mereka, belum tamat lagi].

Ianya adalah kisah dongeng yang betul (Ya! betul-betul dongeng) di salah sebuah negeri (iceberg) yang didiami oleh satu koloni penguin. Bermula dengan seekor penguin bernama Fred mendapati kesan-kesan iceberg yg mencair dan terdapat jelas tanda-tanda bahawa kemungkinan ianya akan memecah pada musim sejuk yg bakal tiba (ya! terdapat musim sejuk di iceberg - dlm cerita dongeng yg benar ini :) Bermula dari detik itulah Fred berusaha memberitahu, menyakinkan, mengajak, untuk berubah kepada satu kehidupan baru bersama beberapa rakan. Dan seperti dlm kehidupan kita (memang ceritanya tentang cabaran "CHANGE MANAGEMENT" yang diceritakan berperwatakan penguin), mereka menempuh berbagai halangan, cabaran & ejekan-ejekan. Dengan strategi yang bijaksana, usaha yang tidak mengenal penat, menghadapi cabaran, melaksanakan plan, mengurangkan halangan, meningkatkan interest masyarakat, mereka akhirnya berjaya berada dalam satu kehidupan baru, yang berlainan daripada kehidupan turun-temurun mereka.

Ianya satu buku yang santai, cerita yang menarik, ringkas, ada unsur kelakar, tetapi yang lebih penting daripada itu adalah ianya bercerita tentang kita (Penguin tu macam kita). Setiap kali kita perlu berubah, kita akan cenderung untuk melihat aspek-aspek negatif daripada perubahan itu (kebanyakan kita begitulah - atau mungkin untuk less offensive, "kebanyakkan saya begitulah"). Sekurang-kurang, kesan yang saya hadapi, jika perubahan itu ke arah kebaikan (walaupun kemungkinan untuk tidak baik itu juga banyak), saya tidak ingin menjadi orang yang menghalang perubahan itu (saya tidak mahu menjadi Mr NoNo - salah satu watak dalam cerita tersebut). Walaupun saya mungkin tidak bersedia untuk menjadi penggerak; sebagaimana Alice, Fred, mahupun Buddy - saya tidak mahu menganggu proses mereka yang mahu berubah (ke arah kebaikan)!

Buku simple ini (jika dilihat daripada aspek ceritanya tetapi mengandungi unsur kreativiti dan ilmu yang tinggi) ditulis oleh seorang yang terkenal dalam aspek Change management; Prof John Kotter dari Oxford. Saya ingin menggalakkan semua orang membaca buku ini - saya juga rasa ingin menggalakkan (tapi jangan jadi "galak" pula) ianya diceritakan dalam mana-mana kumpulan kerja untuk menjadi kumpulan kerja kita bergerak dalam satu "wave" yang sama, walaupun kekuatan/kecenderungan setiap daripada kita berbeza.

This charming story about a penguin colony in Antarctica illustrates key truths about how deal with the issue of change: handle the challenge well and you can prosper greatly; handle it poorly and you put yourself at risk. The penguins are living happily on their iceberg as they have done for many years. Then one curious penguin discovers a potentially devastating problem threatening their home - and pretty much no one listens to him. The characters in this fable are like people we recognise, even ourselves. Their story is one of resistance to change and heroic action, confusion and insight, seemingly intractable obstacles and the most clever tactics for dealing with those obstacles. It is a story that is occuring in different forms around us today - but the penguins handle change a great deal better than most of us. Based on John Kotter's pioneering work on how to make smart change happen faster and better, the lessons you can learn from this short and easy-to-read book will serve you well in your job, in your family, and in your community. A these lessons are becoming ever more important as the world around us changes faster and faster.

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.


Our Iceberg Is Melting

Our Iceberg Is Melting: Changing and Succeeding Under Any Conditions
by John Kotter and Holger Rathgeber

Here’s still another of the popular mini-books (147 pages) we see adorning the shelves of our favorite bookstore haunts today. There are several reasons for this growing trend:

  • The quick-read format provides convenience for readers coping with today’s chaotic time challenges.
  • The use of the ever-popular fable to influence behavior.
  • The gift of wisdom, strategies, and tools to cope with real-world challenges in the work place.

For these reasons, you can expect to continue to see these classics emerge, entertain and educate as long as there are gifted writers to convey these critical lessons.

This particular fable comes to us from two gentlemen who know of what they speak. John Kotter is a leadership and change guru at Harvard Business School who has authored 11 business bestsellers, and Holger Rathgeber is a highly respected modern global manager.

Our Iceberg Is Melting presents a framework for an effective corporate change initiative through the tale of a colony of Antarctic penguins facing the danger of global warming. This colony of penguins will remind you of your typical business organization as they take on the personality traits and demonstrate the leadership skills of many of the characters we work with on a regular basis.

The central character is a particularly astute middle management Emperor Penguin named Fred who has identified a major challenge in the reality that the iceberg they call home is melting. His first obstacle is to convince everyone that there is a problem which must be dealt with.

Fred experiences frustration in having to deal with No No, the penguin who resists change, actively and passively. No No, of course, represents those many people in any organization who are basic blockers to change. Other recognizable personalities include: the naysayers and nitpickers, the innovators and agitators, the leaders and followers. The idea is that everyone in a group must play a role in navigating change. Fred must convince his colony’s Leadership Council that his research has discovered that if they don’t move to another iceberg soon they will suffer disaster beyond their comprehension.

They must implement a thoughtful plan for leading their fellow penguins in the colony through a time of necessary but gut-wrenching change. They quickly discover that the central issue is never strategy, structure, culture, or systems. Although each of these elements are important … the core of the matter is always about changing behaviors of those involved.

This is where we are introduced to the “The Eight Step Process of Successful Change.” The following chapters explain the critical flow of a successful change effort as we witness the colony discover that change is a never-ending process rather than an ultimate destination.

We, too, must realize that we continue to face many changes such as sales, technology, global competition, profits, ROI, retention, customer service, market share, etc. Desirable change is an on-going, never-ending process which demands one requirement above all others: adapt or perish.

This book is a must read for everyone who manages people at any level and recognizes the challenges involved with that responsibility. The eight-step change process is profound and can be applied to any organizational change effort.

Each step of this change process is also illustrated in some entertaining videos on Kotter’s web site at

(This book review was originally published in 2009 as one of the Top 10 Books – Edition 19.)

"When written in Chinese the word crisis is composed of two characters. One represents danger, and the other represents opportunity."

- John F. Kennedy

"If the rate of change on the outside exceeds the rate of change on the inside, the end is near."
- Jack Welch

"Not everything that is faced can be changed.But nothing can be changed until it is faced."

- James Baldwin

"The achievement of excellence can only occur if the organization promotes a culture of creative dissatisfaction."
-Lawrence Miller

"Without a sense of urgency, desire loses its value."

-Jim Rohn

"The voyage of discovery lies not in seeking new horizons, but in seeing with new eyes."
-Marcel Proust

"The achievement of excellence can only occur if the organization promotes a culture of creative dissatisfaction."
-Lawrence Miller


Penguins illustrate how to conquer change
By Michelle Archer, for USA TODAY
At first glance, Our Iceberg Is Melting seems easy to dismiss as an attempt to fuse a few hot topics -- global warming, marching penguins -- into a Who Moved My Cheese? fable-as-business-lesson best seller.

But this penguin parable has a pedigree in the form of Harvard Business School's John Kotter, author of Leading Change, the 1996 business guide that also sported our flat-footed, feathered friends on the cover. The Heart of Change was his 2002 follow-up.
This time out, Kotter moves the penguins inside, using how a colony of them copes with a potential catastrophe -- yes, their iceberg is melting -- to illustrate his eight-step process of successful change.
Their story is short and peppered with the personalities organizations inevitably include: the naysayers and nitpickers, the innovators and agitators, the leaders and followers. The idea is that everyone in a group must play a role in navigating change.
In that vein, Kotter and co-author Holger Rathgeber write that their goal is to use a good story with visual stimuli (full-color, cartoon-like illustrations) to influence a broad range of people to better handle change and produce results. In other words, companies should buy a copy for everyone from the CEO to the stock clerk.
This approach paid off for Spencer Johnson of Who Moved My Cheese?, who writes the foreword.
Kotter's process advocates quick action to confront issues, group thinking and the buy-in of the whole organization. The goal: replace old habits with new behaviors and make them stick.
Whether you're a fan of lowest-common-denominator reading or not, there's no denying the logic behind Kotter's steps and the at-times clever way they are woven into the penguins' journey.

From the Back Cover

"I came across Our ICEBERG IS MELTING in May, ordered and dsitributed 60 copies in June, evaluated its effect on our change effort, and then ordered 500 more copies in September. This is a gem."
-- Heidi King, Program Manager, Dept. of Defense
"As a result of the book and my sharing it with a few people in the organization, we have moved quickly on several fronts. We are galvanized to go ahead instead of further studying, more organizing and so on. It is making a difference for us."
-- Tom Curley, President and CEO, Associated Press
"This is the easiest to read yet most informative book I have ever seen. Setting one of management's biggest challenges, 'what problem, I don't see a problem,' in the context of a melting iceberg and a determined penguin, was a stroke of sheer genius."
-- Michael Dimelow, Director of Product Marketing, TTP Communications PLC

About the Author

John P. Kotter, world-renowned expert on leadership, is the author of many books, including Leading Change and The Heart of Change. He is the Konosuke Matsushita Professor of Leadership, Emeritus at the Harvard Business School, and a graduate of MIT and Harvard. He is co-founder of Kotter International, a leadership organization that helps Global 5000 company leaders develop the skills to lead change. He and his wife Nancy live in Cambridge, Massachusetts.
Holger Rathgeber spent his early professional career in Asia. He has worked in industry since the early 1990's and is now with one of the leading medical technology companies, Bectom Dickinson. Raised in Frankfurt, Germany, Rathgeber currently resides in White Plains, New York.

From AudioFile

In a penguin colony in Antarctica, a curious bird discovers that the iceberg the colony lives on is melting. His task is to convince the other birds and to come up with a plan to save the colony. The story is intended to be a fable for the business world as it faces change. And therein lies the dilemma. The fable is so long that many listeners will wonder what the point is. Finally, the authors list strategies for coping with change. Oliver Wyman reads well, and there is an interview with the authors at the end of the audiobook, which is especially helpful for people who won't be discussing the book in a group. R.C.G. © AudioFile 2006, Portland, Maine-- Copyright © AudioFile, Portland, Maine --This text refers to the Audio CD edition.

See other reviews of this book.