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Our Iceberg Is Melting

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Most of the denizens of the Antarctic penguin colony sneer at Fred, the quiet but observant scout who detects worrying signs that their home, an iceberg, is melting.  Fred must cleverly convince and enlist key players, such as Louis, the head penguin; Alice, the number two bird; the intractable NoNo the weather expert; and a passle of school-age penguins if he is to save the colony.

Their delightfully told journey illuminates in an unforgettable way how to manage the necessary change that surrounds us all. Simple explanatory material following the fable enhances the lasting value of these lessons. Our Iceberg Is Melting is at once charming, accessible and profound; a treat for virtually any reader.      

160 pages, Hardcover

First published January 1, 2005

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About the author

John P. Kotter

116 books421 followers
John P. Kotter, world-renowned expert on leadership, is the author of many books, including Leading Change, Our Iceberg is Melting, The Heart of Change, and his latest book, That's Not How We Do It Here!. 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 change management and strategy execution firm that helps organizations engage employees in a movement to drive change and reach sustainable results. He and his wife Nancy live in Boston, Massachusetts.


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5 stars
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3 stars
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Displaying 1 - 30 of 1,238 reviews
Profile Image for David.
865 reviews1,305 followers
May 9, 2008
I knew it was time to leave the corporate world when our vice-president, a friend who had been a truly smart woman when we first started to work together, bought 300 copies of this trendy 2006 business fable* (involving penguins and melting icebergs) for the entire division.

Not entirely coincidentally, the day that the invitation to the offsite meeting for an all-day training exercise based on the book showed up on my calendar, was the day that I gave notice.

I got out of there just in time. Another couple of weeks and I'd have been dressing up as Fred the visionary penguin, baking under the soul-destroying glare of the fluorescent lights of the Sequoia room in the South San Francisco Embassy Suites. And believe me, I have paid my dues as far as abusive corporate training sessions are concerned:


The horror! The horror!

(*: Can you guess which expert on dairy products writes the foreword to the parable of the penguins? Hmmm. Can you?)

People who don't work in the corporate world often succumb to the temptation to believe in wild conspiracy theories about plans for world domination by evil corporate overlords. I don't lose much sleep over such theories. It's not that I think the corporate wannabe overlords are benign. I just ask myself how much domination can we expect from an executive class that tries to instill loyalty by humiliating employees through forcing them to attend motivational offsite meetings based on this kind of drivel.

One of the blurbs on Amazon tells us that some upper manager type in the Department of Defence snapped up 400 copies. I don't know if I should feel more, or less, secure as a result.
Profile Image for Dirk Grobbelaar.
550 reviews1,067 followers
July 22, 2015

For such a short book this was a surprisingly tedious read.

I know that change is inevitable and that people are more often than not resistant to change, hence the need for change management. This little book sets out to make it a bit easier to relate to, and to highlight the importance of change and the pitfalls of change management. It also attempts to discuss the dangers of not changing in a dynamic environment.

The problem is, there’s nothing really new here.

As to whether this book will actually change the way people react to change… well, the verdict is still out on that. We’re busy with change management at work, so I’ll reserve judgment until sometime next year.

Rating this book is difficult, since the practical implication also needs to be considered. All in all I found reading it a bit dull, even if the principles are sound. I can hardly give it more than two stars at this stage…
Profile Image for Jon Nakapalau.
4,934 reviews687 followers
December 21, 2021
Our iceberg is melting...we are a group of penguins living on the iceberg...should we work with each other to find a solution or just do what we want to do by ourselves? Excellent book on how to manage change while not allowing change to manage us! Great read before working on a project.
Profile Image for Nilguen.
202 reviews73 followers
January 12, 2023
An absolute delicious tale on change management. The book deals with all sorts of characters that we come across in corporate environments when facing a minor or major change management. Ultimately, you’ll also see which one of these characters you represent yourself in a change manage management process ;)
A great fable to reflect upon ourselves 💭📚❤️.

IG: nilguen_reads
Profile Image for K.D. Absolutely.
1,820 reviews
November 10, 2011
Enjoyable easy read. It is hard not to like this book especially if you read only one or two books in a year. You will like this book if you are working in a corporation that believes in continuous improvement driven by the desire to be the best leader and world-class. You will take this as a work bible if you want to be part of a big change and that your contribution is being desired and valued. Why not? Change is the only thing permanent in this world. When there is a change, we need to recognize it and be part of it instead of resisting it and stay forever in a morass. Also, we all want to be counted. We all want to contribute and be seen as a visionary leader, a capable manager and/or a valuable team player. We all enjoy being recognized for our achievements. We all need to work and provide for our family or to our future. Some people may consider me an old corporate dog but I can still learn new tricks and in my field of specialization that is information technology (I.T.), I better be adaptable to change as oh boy, things in this field change like that twister in Dorothy’s farm: fast and furious.

My issue is the story in this book because there seems to be an on-going racket among these management book writers. This book is a fable with a colony of penguins and a seagull as characters. It has practically zero originality. It is just a rehash of Spencer Johnson’s 1998 bestselling book, Who Moved My Cheese?. In that book, Johnson used two little people, ”Hem” and ”Haw” as those who first resisted change and adapted to it later after learning their painful lesson. He had ”Sniff” and ”Scurry” as those who were early adapters to the change. When this book was distributed to a lot of employees prior to being laid-off or those who have to take on more jobs as they were retained in the downsizing companies, they said ”does the management mean that we have to behave like mice and accept their offer even if it is disadvantageous to us?” The message of the book was perfect and clear but the choice of the characters was just stupid. But still, companies facing change bought volumes of this book and distributed to their employees hoping that this will change their mindset and behave like stupid mice.

Seven years after that Johnson’s book was first published, came this clone: Our Iceberg is Melting: Changing and Succeeding Under Any Conditions. The duo composed of a Harvard professor John Kotter and a global manager Holger Rathgeber probably had a frenzy of penguin movies (Surfs Up, Happy Feet, March of the Penguins, Attack of the Penguins, Zombie Penguins, etc) with their kids so they thought of using penguins instead of humans and seagull instead of mice. In terms of the ways to adopt to change let’s compare their lists:
”WHO MOVED MY CHEESE?” has these:
1) Change Happens They keep moving the cheese
2) Anticipate Change Get ready for the cheese to move
3) Monitor Change Smell the cheese often so you know when it is getting old
4) Adapt to Change Quickly The quicker you let go of old cheese, the sooner you can enjoy the new cheese
5) Change Move with the cheese
6) Enjoy Change! Savor the adventure and enjoy the taste of the new cheese!
7) Be Ready to Change Quickly and Enjoy it Again They keep moving the cheese
Now let’s see what ”OUR ICEBERG IS MELTING” says:

Set the Stage
1. Create a Sense of Urgency
Help others see the need for change and the importance of acting immediately.
2. Pull Together the Guiding Team
Make sure there is a powerful group guiding the change – one with leadership skills, credibility, communications ability, authority, analytical skills, and a sense of urgency.
Decide What to Do
3. 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.
Make it Happen
4. Communicate for Understanding and Buy In
Make sure as many others as possible understand and accept the vision and the strategy.
5. Empower Others to Act
Remove as many barriers as possible so that those who want to make the vision a reality can do so.
6. Produce Short-Term Wins
Create some visible, unambiguous successes as soon as possible.
7. Don’t Let Up
Press harder and faster after the first successes. Be relentless with irritating change after change until the vision is a reality
Make It Stick
8. 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.

Very similar, right? The two con men just added some details that are obviously included in the steps because everybody facing changes can think about them. Then they put some sub-headings and explanations to make theirs appear different when put side by side with those of Johnson’s. Crazy.

There are a lot of these theories, practices or rules that authors of management or business books twist, rename and presto they have a new bestselling book. MRPII, Class A, Six-Sigma. Quality Circles, Continuous Improvement, Kaizen. Same thing. Same banana. Different Names. Just like same idea but two different set characters, different milieus perhaps. Most glaringly, two sets of bestselling-authors. That’s why for a long time, I stopped reading management and business books. I just have to read this as a required reading for our company project and to put myself immediately into a raring-to-change mode.
90 reviews1 follower
October 29, 2011
At first I wondered how this book was different than "Who Moved My Cheese?" The answer is that this book deals with organizational or social change, while WMMC? deals mostly with personal change.

The book accurately "types" people in a creative way, and subtly offers real tips for persuading large groups of people. Sadly, some people who read this book will not be swayed by it - not because the information is untrue, but because people are unaware of what they are doing and how they are feeling.

If you doubt what I am saying... cross your arms across your chest. Do it now. How do you feel?

Now cross your arms the other way, so that whatever arm you normally cross on top is now under your other arm. How do you feel? Awkward? Most people only ever cross their arms one way - in fact, according to "The Definitive Book of Body Language", 90% cross the left arm over the right.

The point of this exercise is that there are many behaviors that people exhibit implicitly, without conscious awareness. Beyond behavior, people are usually unaware of their perspective on life, too. In short, humans think they know what they think, but all too often we misinform ourselves. The conscious and the unconscious do not work in lock step.

For more on these topics, I would recommend "Moral Minds" by Marc D. Hauser, "Frogs Into Princes" by Richard Bandler and John Grinder, "The Myth of the Rational Market" by Justin Fox, and "Buyology" by Martin Lindstrom.
5 reviews1 follower
May 29, 2008
Good grief! This was being touted as the "go-to" book for organizational learning and dealing with change. Yes, the premise is cute and readable, and contains John Kotter's excellent business sense of operational strength and leadership. But the true brilliance of this book is that it costs $26.00 and businesses will be buying it by the bucketful and subjecting their teams to yet another interminable day or weekend long work retreat to identify their inner penguins. I suggest you go to the bookstore and buy a cup of coffee..bring this book into the cafe and read it. Trust me, you'll get the idea and still have coffee left...and still have $26 as well.
I then suggest any number of Kotter's books in the Harvard Business Essential series...he is good. And if you are pressed for time, turn to the last chapter of the penguin book for the 8 vital steps of realizing change and growth in an organization. Its good, its helpful, its smart. But I just hate those business exercises (find your hedgehog, are you the pasta or the sauce, etc) that take the place of real communication and emotional and business intelligence. Now I have to go write my book starring cute little koalas...entitled "Hey! someone is eating all our eucalyptus!"
Profile Image for Blake Norby.
181 reviews4 followers
January 16, 2014
This book is not only poorly written, it is extremely condescending and sexist. Of course the one leader that is female is a nagging, self-important bitch who has no patience for anyone else. The only other female characters even present are a mentally unstable and overly emotional kindergarten teacher and a small penguin child. The authors continuously try to be cutesy or funny, but it is painfully obvious that this story was written by two middle-aged businessmen trying to be cute. The idea that adults cannot speak plainly about conflicts or issues is just insulting. I do not need to use "penguin language" to address serious issues. I also find it insulting that one of the archetypes for the group is a young, pretty but dumb penguin. Where is the young, who cares what they look like, intelligent archetype? The fact that money was wasted in producing this book is sad enough, but that it's actually purchased for professional development purposes is downright depressing.
Profile Image for Ramy.
1,098 reviews665 followers
November 29, 2015
الكتاب سهل و بسيط و هو من نوعية كتب التنمية البشرية و التى تعتمد على قصة مرمزة ل جذب اهتمام القارىء اكثر من مجرد كتاب تنمية بشرية ذو عناوين رئيسية و عناوين فرعية.....
الكتاب هو اشبه ب كتاب من الذي حرك قطعة الجبن الخاصة بي ؟ و لكن على مستوى community
اكبر ..جماعة من الناس فى فريق او شركة او مصنع او مدرسة .... تجمع من الناس ترتبطهم مصالح و ميول مشتركة

الكتاب يتحدث عن ضرورة اعتناق التغيير لكيلا تجرفنا الحياة و تحولنا ك الديناصورات او ك بطاريق جبلهم الجليدى مهدد بالذوبان و هم مهددون بالتشتت و الضياع ان لم يكن الموت ..و كيف استوعبوا التغيير لمرة بل و جعلوه لاحقا اسلوب حياة

الكتاب اشار الى كتابين اخرين
the heart of change
leading change

سأحاول قرائتهم ان سنحت لى الفرصة
الكتاب القادم : الأسلوب الأقوى والألطف في التغيير
Profile Image for Daniel Carpio.
147 reviews6 followers
March 24, 2018
Forced to read this by work. Cute little fable about penguins who are facing environmental changes and how only by changing themselves they can keep their colony alive. Super quick read.
Profile Image for Malissa.
64 reviews10 followers
November 27, 2008
It's not about global warming!
What would you do if you found out the community you live in and had been lived in by your ancestors for years was suddenly going to be non-existant? How would you handle it? What if you found out that the company you worked for had to undergo a major redesign? What if you had to implode all that you have known? Could you handle it? How would you handle it? This books give you 8 simple steps to make it through this process/this journey of change by telling a fable. What if you were a penguin and you found out that your iceberg was melting? What if you were the only one who realized this? Could you convince others of the need to change?
Profile Image for ليندا .
5 reviews
September 23, 2012
جبلنا الجليدي يذوب ...رواية ...عن البطاريق :))
من أبسط وأعمق ما قد قرأت ...وكأنها قصة عن النهضة بسلوب يكاد يصل لمستوى الروائي الطفولي ..
لا استطيع ان اقوم بالمهة وحدي
1_لن نتحد ما دام كل منا يشير إلى اتجاه معاكس لغيره

2_ جماعة البطاريق الذين يريدون التغيير ويؤمنون بضرورته:
الناس لن يفهموا كلماتنا المفلسفة ...سنسرد لهم كل الأمر بداية بأسئلة ثم سنروي لهم القصة ..قصة التغيير والاكتشاف .
بدأ بطريق بسرد أسئلة على جماعة البطاريق وكان محور الاسئلة يدور عما يحترمونه من قيم وما يكنوه من احترام للمعتقدات. كانت الأجوبة ممتالية (النعم ) حتى وصل للسؤال الأخير الفاصل ليقنعهم ان ما يحملونه من قيم لن يتغير مع الوضع الجديد ..وعندما سألهم السؤال ..
أجاب بعض الطيور التي لا تتسم بالذكاء ولا يملكون سوى نغمة نعم نعم بقول (نعم)وفجأة صاحت واحدة من البطاريق ممن يؤمنون بالفكرة قائلة (لا) لا لا لا وسرعان ما أيدها في ذلك جماعة من البطاريق وبطاريق آخرين صغار السن .

بعد طرح الأفكار الجديدة والتغيرية ينقسم الناس إلى :
30% اقتنعوا بالفكرة بجدارة وشعروا بالارتياح
30% يحاولون استيعاب ما سمعوه ورأوه
20% في غاية الحيرة والارتباك

10% متشككين في الأمر
10% مقتنعين بأ، كل ما يحدث سخف وعبث

للآن ركزت الرواية على
_ كيفية تشكيل فريق ذو مهارة لقيادة التغيير
_كيفية التعامل مع واقع لا يسمع للافكار الجديدة .
_ضرورة التعاون
_إيجاد حلول للعقبات .
التعلم من أجناس مختلفة عن الب��اريق لأخذ ما يفيبد في عملية التغيير .

وللقصة بقية .حينما انتهي من قراءة الرواية بشكل كامل

Profile Image for Arthy.
11 reviews
January 29, 2019
A story that helps people to handle any unexpected situations in a much calmer way. A note at the end suggests reading the book as many times as possible. I agree with it. If you have not gotten an opportunity to practice the recommended framework, then reading it multiple times would help to recap. Each time you may be quicker to go through than the previous time.

The fable form makes it a good choice of book for young children.
Profile Image for Abdullatif.
76 reviews18 followers
February 17, 2011
اجمل شيء في هذا الكتاب ان البطريق يمكن ان يقدم عرضاً للبطاريق الاخرى بواسطة الباور بوينت !!!

كتاب يتحدث عن اهمية التغيير ( ان كان لا بد منه ) تحت اي ظرف و في اي مكان شرط توفر الارادة و النية.

انصح بقرائته لفائدته الجمة لمختلف الاشخاص الذين يعملون في كافة مجالات الحياة.
Profile Image for محمد عبدالمجيد.
Author 7 books436 followers
May 30, 2012
كتاب رائع غير كثير من المفاهيم
أنصح به كل من يسعى لإحداث تغيير ناجح
March 9, 2018
explains change management/leading change with such simple stories. funny and refreshing
Profile Image for Eslam.
23 reviews1 follower
February 14, 2014
سأحاول كتابة أفكار مشتتة مستخرجة من الكتاب

كن إيجابيا و ثق بنفسك عندما ترى خطأ ما فعليك محاولة اصلاحه.

لا تتقدم لاتخاذ خطوة عملية إلا بعد أن تحضر كل البراهين اللازمة على صحة رأيك بما لا يدع أى مجال للشك لدى الآخرين

توقع أن الجميع ليس من المفترض أن يتحمسوا لك. سيوجد المتكبر الذى لا يستمع لرأى الآخرين, و المتكلس المعادى للأفكار الجديدة, و الغير مكترث الكسول, و الذى يهوى الجدال الكثير لمجرد الجدال و حسب. كل هؤلاء سيكونون عقبة فى طريقك

اختر شخص فى دائرة صناعة القرار يتسم بالموضوعية و التفتح و قوة الشخصية اللازمة لدفع قرارك على مائدة النقاش

نظرا لاختلاف العقليات فحاول تبسيط فكرتك عند عرضها و حبذا لو استخدمت أمثلة و نماذج تجربية و تجارب عملية توضح الفكرة بالمشاهدة

ستجد من داخل صانعى القرار من يحاول افشالك دائما و يتخذ الأمر على محمل شخصى و يجعل افشالك قضية حيوية بالنسبة إليه

عند عرض الأمر على الجمهور يجب مراعاة عقليتهم و البدء بخطاب عاطفى يذيب الجليد بينك و بينهم و يحمسهم للفكرة ثم تدخل فى الفكرة تدريجيا ببساطة و يسر

الجمهور سيكون منه جزء مقتنع و جزء متشكك و جزء رافض للتغيير. عليك كسب الجزء المتشكك كى تكون أغلبية فى مواجهة الجزء الرافض للتغيير

عند تكوين فريق عمل. انظر فى مهاراتهم و اخترها بعناية و لتكن مهارات مختلفة كى يحدث فيما بينهم تكامل.

فريق العمل طبيعى أن يكون غير متجانس لاختلاف العقليات و المهارات. لذا عليك فى البداية خلق هذا التجانس فيما بينهم و اعطاءهم تدريبا سريعا على العمل الجماعى

ستقوم بمعل عصف ذهنى فى فريق العمل حول الوسائل المناسبة لتحقيق الفكرة و مناقشة كل الوسائل المطروحة. حاول الخروج خارج الصندوق الخاص بكم و تطعيم الأمر بوسائل و أفكار من خارج البيئة المغلقة الخاصة بكم

عند اتفاقكم على الوسيلة المناسبة سيحدث نقاش حول كل جوانبها للتأكد من سلامتهاو صلاحيتها للتطبيق

بعدها سيتم عرض الوسيلة على الجمهور و اقناعه بتبنى تلك الوسيلة. سيدخل فى ذلك محاضرات تحفيزية و حملات دعائية كبيرة

ستجد من قام بمعارضتك فى البداية يحاول استغلال الصعوبات التى تواجه الفكرة فى الترويج لفشلها و يسعى دائما فى الاتجاه المضاد

ذلك الطرف الذى يحاول افشالك عندما يفشل فى مواجهتك بالحجج و الأدلية سيحاول اثارة القلائل و وضع العراقيل و اختلاق الاشاعات و بث المخاوف فى المجتمع ضد فكرتك محاولا تثبيطك و احداث تآكل فى الكتلة المؤيدة لك. سيستخدم كل وسيلة لمنعك و سيتواطأ معه أناس غير مقتنعون بفكرتك.

يجب مواجهة ذلك الأمر بحزم شديد و باسلوب مباشر. ينبغى العمل على افشال خطط افشال الفكرة الجديدة عن طريق المواجهة المباشرة على الأرض مع هذا الطرف المشغب و الانتشار بين الناس و ازالة مخاوفهم بالنقاش و تفنيد كل تلك المزاعم الكاذبة

يجب اشراك المجتمع فى العمل على الفكرة بحيث تكون قضية المجتمع بكل فئاته حتى الأطفال يجب أن يكون لهم دور

يجب احراز نصر صغير فى الطريق لتحقيق الفكرة حتى تحافظ على عدد المؤيدين لها و تكتسب أرض جديدة من المتشككين و المعارضين. الفكرة إن لم تثبت أنها قابلة للتطبيق فستنتهى حتما

اشراك جميع فئات المنظومة أو المجتمع فى العمل لتحقيق الفكرة يأتى لك بأفكار ابداعية ربما تأتى من أصغر الفئات أو أقلها شأنا. قم بتنفيذ الأفكار المبدعة و كافىء صاحبها كى تكون حافزا له و للآخرين على الجد فى العمل

ينبغى مناقشة جميع الأطروحات فى مراحل العمل و استيفاء كافة جوانبها.

ينبغى عدم التهاون و ترك زمام سير العمل ليميل نحو التراخي. بل هناك جدول مواعيد محدد ينبغى الوفاء به والضغط فى ذلك الاتجاه

فى أعضاء الفريق من الجيد أن يكون لديك واجهة اعلامية دافئة تستطيع التعامل مع الجمهور و كسب ثقته و تعاطفه و الحفاظ على حماسه

أثناء التنفيذ للخطة لن يخلو الأمر من مشاكل و يعتمد تقليل المشاكل على حكمة القيادة و خبرتها فى معالجة الأمور فى وقتها

الأمر لا يتوقف عند الانتهاء من التنف��ذ. بل يلحقه تطويرات فى الفكرة و متابعة لها لضمان عدم تكرر المشكلة فى المستقبل و الانتقال من طور تفادى الخسارة إلى طور جنى الأرباح

لا تدع العادات و التقاليد تقف حائلا أمام التطور فمن سمات التطور أنه فى عداء دائم مع العادات و التقاليد لأن العادات و التقاليد وليدة عوامل البيئة فإذا طورت فى البيئة تحتم عليك تغييرها

التواضع سمت القائد الناجح و الغرور يؤدى إلى الفشل. قاعدة

يجب الحفاظ على سريان الخبرات المتجددة من الأجيال الكبرى إلى الأجيال الأصغر

سيبقى هناك معارضون للتغيير للأبد, لا تتوقع أن يكون الكل معك. لا تبتأس يا صديقى ... المهم أن تحاصر��م فى دور المعارضة و لا تدع لهم المجال لكسب أى أرضية تمكنهم من اعادة عقارب الساعة إلى الوراء. تذكر هذه جيدا

Profile Image for Mark Steed.
64 reviews7 followers
April 2, 2016
Fables have a deceptive power. On the surface they read like the stories of our childhood employing simple vocabulary to describe everyday contexts to which we can all relate. Their narrative structure lulls our adult brain into a false sense of security, disabling the rational analytical faculties that usually protect our cherished world view. We uncritically play along with the story until we reach the point where the fable's inner truth is unavoidable. So it is with John Kotter's Our Iceberg is Melting.
Our Iceberg is Melting presents as a children's book: it is in large print with colourful illustrations - a five year old probably would enjoy it, if they had the patience to sit for the 45 minutes it takes to read. It is the story of an Emperor Penguin colony faced with a potentially devastating problem that is threatening their home. Fred, a low-ranking quirky penguin discovers that the iceberg on which the colony has lived for unknown generations is melting and is likely to fracture. The story charts how a small group lead the colony through the process of coming up with a solution and effecting their plan.
As well written as it is, the author is no children's writer A Harvard Business School professor, John Kotter is one of the world's experts and best-selling author on leadership and change. "Our Iceberg is Melting is a simple fable about doing well in an ever-changing world". The characters that we meet in Our Iceberg is Melting are 'types' that are found in every organisation. The tale "is one of resistance to change and heroic action, seemingly intractable obstacles and the most clever tactics for dealing with those obstacles" (quotes from dust jacket).

Our Iceberg is Melting is a powerful illustration of Kotter's Eight Step Process of Successful Change outlined in his book Leading Change:
Create a sense of urgency. 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, communications 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.
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.
Create some visible, unambiguous successes as soon as possible.
Don't let up. Press harder and faster after the first 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.
Profile Image for Bilal Anis.
129 reviews14 followers
March 14, 2017
A good book about change management narrated in a very simplistic language and in the method of storytelling. The book helps businesses and communities move from old to new territories to cope with their own environment. The main theme of the book is how change can be very difficult and it should be worked out with good planning and team effort. The 8 phases of change management according to Kottler are:


Help others see the need for change through a bold, aspirational opportunity statement that communicates the importance of acting immediately.

A volunteer army needs a coalition of effective people – born of its own ranks – to guide it, coordinate it, and communicate its activities.


Clarify how the future will be different from the past and how you can make that future a reality through initiatives linked directly to the vision.


Large-scale change can only occur when massive numbers of people rally around a common opportunity.
They must be bought in and urgent to drive change – moving in the same direction.


Removing barriers such as inefficient processes and hierarchies provides the freedom necessary to work across silos and generate real impact.


Wins are the molecules of results. They must be recognized, collected and communicated – early and often – to track progress and energize volunteers to persist.


Press harder after the first successes. Your increasing credibility can improve systems, structures and policies. Be relentless with initiating change after change until the vision is a reality.


Articulate the connections between the new behaviors and organizational success, making sure they continue until they become strong enough to replace old habits.

The above 8 phases are easily summarized by SET THE STAGE ---> DECIDE WHAT TO DO ---> MAKE IT HAPPEN --->MAKE IT STICK.

It is very important to Think and Feel in this process. By thinking we refer to collecting data and presenting them fairly. In Feeling, we want people tp be surprised, compelled nd and feel what our vision. A change in feeling will lead to change in behaviour. People tend to follow their feelings and copy other, communicating with influential figures are key to success.

Change can be very difficult to people and that is why a change management strategy has to be comprehensive and well planned.
Profile Image for L.
66 reviews
November 1, 2011
They need to stop killing trees for these kinds of books, even if they are used in 'board rooms and leadership committees'.
With the rise of the jejune, it makes me wonder if people who received MBA's in grad school are those who changed degrees after they failed basket weaving classes.
A note for those in US board rooms and leadership committees who initiate cruel and unusual punishment by forcing others to share in your literary high wierdness:
If there are a number of elementary school level books that discuss change, then is change actually possible when there is no shortage of newly published reflux in this genre? If a person in your organization does not 'get the message' the first time -- then how is another simpleton leadership book about Willy the Sloth or Timmy the Train going to convince them otherwise?
That being the case, then there is nothing else to be done with your staff development plans but to take the obvious plunge: if you want to explain teamwork through dribble and simple activity -- buy the first few seasons of The Tele-Tubbies on video. Admit it, this is what US corporate culture has become, because this is where your leadership took them.

If your iceberg is sinking, Mr. Organizational Man, then consider taking this advice from a band called Tool: Learn to Swim.

Update 10/2011 Did not do much to keep you out of the recession when your profits would melt.
Profile Image for Sabrina Kammer.
127 reviews12 followers
June 9, 2015
In der heutigen Gesellschaft wird das Thema Veränderungen gross geschrieben - auch an mir geht es nicht einfach so vorbei.
Tagtäglich lernen wir immer mehr dazu - ob das nun im beruflichen Bereich ist oder im Privaten. Wir lernen nie aus und wenn man betrachtet, wie schnell sich die Gesellschaft weiter entwickelt und was von uns gefordert wird, sind wir beinahe gezwungen, uns weiter zu entwickeln und mit dem 'Trend' zu gehen. Denn wenn wir nicht immer mehr dazu lernen, werden wir irgendwann den Anschluss verlieren und das zieht meistens, je nach Bereich, grössere Probleme mit sich.

In diesem Buch wird auf eine wundervolle Weise gezeigt, wie wir Veränderungen begegnen und wie wir das Beste daraus machen. Mit einer Kolonie von Pinguinen und dem Problem eines schmelzendes Eisberges wird aufgezeigt, welche Möglichkeiten wir haben, wenn wir sie denn ergreifen - und auch, wenn wir uns dagegen wehren.

Ich fand den Schreibstil unheimlich toll und auch, wie der Autor dieses doch komplexe Thema auf diese wundervolle Art an den Leser bringt. Man lernt unheimlich viel davon, ohne es vielleicht im ersten Moment zu begreifen.

'Das Pinguin-Prinzip' kann ich für jeden weiterempfehlen, der sich mit dieser Thematik auseinander setzen möchte und keine schwere Kost mag. Das Buch bekommt von mir 4 Sterne.
Profile Image for Louis Prosperi.
Author 33 books12 followers
July 11, 2012
A fun and interesting fable using the story of a colony of Emperor Penguins as a metaphor for how an organization can go about making a needed change.

I enjoy business books in general, but among my favorites are the "story"-based books, such "The One-Minute Manager", "Who Moved My Cheese", "Inside the Magic Kingdom", "The Go-Giver", "It's Not About You", and others. These books take complex and sometimes fear-inducing subjects (like change) and present them in friendly ways to help readers understand how they can deal with them in their business and personal lives.

The focus of this book is leading change, and is based on John Kotter's "8 Steps to Leading Change" originally outlined in his book "Leading Change". The use of the penguin fable allows the authors to present these steps in the context of a story that illustrates how the steps work together in enabling the penguins to make a significant change in their lives.

I recommend this book to anyone involved in leading any sort of change, whether it be in your business, a local organization, your church, or even your personal life.
May 15, 2012
A group of penguins find themselves on ice which develops cracks. When the alarm is raised that the group needs to move to a more stable piece of ice the others in the group respond in very familiar ways: denial, admitting the problem but refusing to discuss consequences, panic and fear, and those who seek a solution.

The situations and reactions to the iceberg melting are clear, identifiable, and are easy to relate to the personal experiences. Kotter invites the reader to imagine how others are relating to the same situation and how different responses may create tension in groups. When used as a group discussion topic, this allegorical story may offer ways to imagine different ways to react, respond and relate to a stressful interaction.
Profile Image for Jonathan Noble.
22 reviews2 followers
August 16, 2017
A simple tale, with hidden depth, outlining what is required to lead effective change. I wish I'd read this book years ago!
January 29, 2019
Review: Our Iceberg is Melting

A very easy read! Even though this is a requirement for a subject that I am currently taking, I was fascinated and enthralled while reading the book
March 7, 2016
Our iceberg is melting

I give 4 star to this book, I liked it. It was a story about a penguin colony whose iceberg was melting. All the things that they had to go through to overcome this challenge, and all the steps that they went through to succeed. This book was written as fable, so it was entertaining and at the same time you were learning. This is a book that is easy to read.

I think that this book, will help me in my heros journey. This book, taught me many things that will help me during my life. The book was about changing in a group, most of the times we are around people. This book was written as a fable of a group of penguins, they acted exactly the same way as humans. With this, we can be able to compare our situation and empathize with what penguins were going through. I learned eight steps that will help me make better and more efficient changes in groups. As I said, we are always with people, so knowing how to change with them is going to help me a lot. This book showed me that no matter how big the group’s are you can always change. It is not going to be easy, and there are going to be people who will try to stop you . The penguins changed a whole colony. I know this is not true, but this book is based on real stories, that putted in practice the eight steps. At first people might see you as crazy or stupid. But you have to stick with the plan and keep on working hard. This will help me a lot in my life. Even if it is a small problem or the biggest problem dealing with people is the same. You can use it in many situations. This is a book that will help me in many ways in my hero's journey.

I think this book is for everyone. But, I think that it will specially work for organizations, businesses, and other type of groups, because it is about changing in a group. But, it can be useful for anyone, because we are constantly with people in any type of group. This also expands your skills as a leader in a group. It helps you guide yourself through the change.

“People are less likely to change themselves and others based on data and analysis than on compelling experiences.” John P. Kotter. This quote caught my attention because I realized that we don't change by the data, but from what we have learned by experiences that had an impact on us. We are most likely to change something because of what we have gone through, not because of what we see in a data table . In my personal experience when I make a changes is because of past experiences. I also learn better from experience not form theory. When you only know the theory, when it comes to putting it in practice it is really difficult. When you learn from experience, most likely, you are able to do a better job when it comes to putting in practice. This quote opened my eyes to realize that not everything is theory.

This was a great book, I really learned from it!

Our iceberg is melting

Yo le doy 4 estrellas a este libro, me gusto mucho. Trata sobre una comunidad de pingüinos que su glaciar se estaba derritiendo. Todo lo que tuvieron que pasar para sobrevivir ese reto, y todos los paso que tuvieron que lograr para ser exitosos. Este libro fue escrito como un fábula, así que te entretiene al mismo tipo que se aprende. Este es un libro fácil de leer.

Yo creo que este libro me va a ayudar mucho en mi viaje como héroe. Me enseñó muchas cosas que me van a ayudar en la vida. Este libro habla sobre cambiar en un grupo, muchas veces estamos con personas alrededor. Este libro fue escrito como una fábula de un grupo de pingüinos, que actuaban exactamente igual que los humanos. Así que puedo comparar las situaciones y ser empático con lo que los pingüinos pasaron. Aprendí ocho pasos que me ayudaran a hacer cambios en grupos. Como dije, casi siempre estamos con personas, así que saber cambiar con ellos me puede ayudar mucho. Este libro me enseñó que no importa que tan grande es el grupo, siempre se puede cambiar. No es fácil cambiar, y van a haber personas que van a tratar de pararte. Los pingüinos cambiaron la colonia. Yo se que esto no es cierto, pero está basado en historias verdaderas, que pusieron en práctica los ocho pasos. Al principio las personas tal vez te ven como loco o tonto. Pero hay que seguir con el plan y trabajar duro. Esto me va a ayudar mucho en mi vida. Aunque el problema sea pequeño o grande, lidiar con personas es lo mismo. Lo puedes usar en muchos tipos de situaciones.

Yo creo que este libro es para todas las personas. Pero yo creo que puede ayudar especialmente a organizaciones, negocios, cualquier tipo de grupos. Pero puede ser funcional para cualquier persona, porque siempre estamos con personas. En cualquier tipo de grupo. Esto también expande tus habilidades como líder en un grupo. Ayuda a guiarte en un momento de cambio.

“People are less likely to change themselves and others based on data and analysis than on compelling experiences.” John P. Kotter. la traducción de esta frase es “Es menos probable que las personas cambien a ellas mismas u otras personas basados en datos y análisis que en experiencias ”. Esta frase me llamó la atención, porque me di cuenta que nosotros no cambiamos por datos, nosotros cambiamos por una experiencia que nos impactó. Es más probable que cambiemos por lo que nos pasó, que por lo que vimos en una tabla de datos. En mi opinión personal, yo hago cambios muchas veces basándose en lo que he pasó. También aprendí que aprendemos mejor haciendo que solo sabiendo la teoría. Cuando solo sabes la teoría, a la hora de ponerlo en práctica es más difícil. Cuando aprendemos por experiencias aprendes más fácil y más probablemente
a la hora de ponerlo en práctica probablemente sea más fácil. Esta frase me ayudó a abrir los ojos que no todo es teoría.

Este fue un buen libro me gusto mucho.

Profile Image for James Johnson.
518 reviews8 followers
March 31, 2012

I'm not sure what to say about this book. We were given copies of this book by our management team at work in connection with a pending divisional restructure. I think the book was intended to help us adapt to change but I don't really see a parallel between the fabricated and factually flawed fable of penguins on a melting iceberg and what we are facing at work.

The author actually did a good job of covering known facts about Emperor Penguins (e.g. their diving depth, lung capacity, and reliance on numbers for warmth) but he neglected one crucial fact that destroys the premise of his fable. Emperor Penguins are already nomadic; migrating up to 280 km each year to breed. (As found on this website of penguin facts: http://bit.ly/HE7qQq)

Kotter should have also consulted the facts about icebergs. The average life cycle of an iceberg is 3 to 6 years. Given that this species of penguin reaches breeding age at around four years of age, mature penguins wouldn't really have the concept of a long-term or permanent home on such a temporary structure. (As found on the HowStuffWorks website: http://bit.ly/Hy6Cfb)

That being said, we can proceed as if the tenants of the story are factually based and there is a population of Emperor Penguins who have always lived on the same iceberg and never migrate. Now that iceberg is "melting" (actually, the threat of breaking apart at fault lines would pose the more imminent threat) and the penguins need to agree first on what is happening and then on a course of action.

I certainly didn't like the penguin named NoNo (the naysayer) but I also didn't like one of the apparent heroes (or in this case heroine). Alice was portrayed as the aggressive, go-getter on the council who made things happen. By the end of the story, it becomes clear that without Alice the "new vision" would never have been realized. However, she is impatient and rude; habitually cutting off the professor and not willing to hear his lengthy explanations or theories. She was a fear-monger who sold the concepts of imminent danger and immediate threat to scare people into action. Alice also mounted a propaganda campaign and quickly moved to shut down dissension in the ranks.

I also find it interesting that the author did a "bait and switch" in the story. From the outset, we had a group of complacent penguins who have to deal with the danger of a melting, cracking iceberg (which by the way, was never demonstrated or validated in the story). By the end of the story, the penguins found a safe and suitable replacement habitat but were constantly looking for a better one each year; having developed a group who thrives on constant change.

As a side note, I did not appreciate the misuse of the word "skeptical" in this story. Skeptics were portrayed as doubter and naysayers but that is not an accurate use of the word. When a person is skeptical, they follow wherever the evidence leads. As quoted on the etymology dictionary website, "Skeptic does not mean him who doubts, but him who investigates or researches as opposed to him who asserts and thinks that he has found." [Miguel de Unamuno, 'Essays and Soliloquies,' 1924]. (As found online at http://bit.ly/Hy7PEz) A more appropriate word in this story would have been either "dogmatist" or "denier".

In the end, I don't think this story is an accurate reflection of what we are facing at work and I would have appreciated more serious and more scholarly books on the subject. The best thing about Kotter's book was that it was short and easy to read but that was also its downfall. This is the kind of book that you might give to people who are uneducated, ignorant, and not very literate.

I have no doubt that there are books that better deal with the issues of globalization, outsourcing, and restructuring. I will try to find and read some of those and would also welcome any recommendations. I would prefer material that is not dumbed down to the masses and ideally, that would be backed with reliable research and data.
Profile Image for Nathan Albright.
4,426 reviews102 followers
July 19, 2019
If you are fond of penguins (I am) and are interested in the difficulties of change management and how it can be successfully managed, this short audiobook containing an amusing fable has a lot to offer.  To be sure, fables are generally contrived and this book certainly is contrived in a way that reality is more complex, but all the same this is an enjoyable fable in large part because even though the agenda of the authors is obvious it is not unappealing.  There is a certain degree of tolerance that people often have in thinking about chance as it applies to animals (like mice wondering about who moved their cheese) that they do not have when it comes to thinking about change that others want to push on them.  To be sure, successfully handling change, including the fable's desire to push for a massive change in cultural lifestyle for the penguins, is not an easy task, but in the case of the fable, there is a genuine threat, while in the case of a lot of change there is a lot less of a case to be made and a great deal less finesse in how the change is managed.

This particular fable takes up only two cds, and a great deal of the second cd consists of the two authors answering questions and talking about the way that the fable has been put into practice at various unnamed companies.  As for the story itself, we begin with Fred, a young but intelligent and curious penguin who finds evidence that the iceberg is melting and seeks to help the penguin colony avoid disaster.  He goes to Alice, a somewhat bold and radical member of the ruling council, manages to convince Louis, the head of the colony, who then mobilizes support to include Buddy, a friendly but not very bright penguin, and the Professor, a very intelligent and well-respected older penguin, to manage the change.  NoNo, who is in sharp opposition to change, seeks to derail the change effort, and the penguin colony has to deal with seagulls, the problem of feeding scouts, and elementary school teachers who are giving their children nightmares, but ultimately the colony is successful and decides upon a life of wandering from iceberg to iceberg without putting down permanent roots, which shows the way the writers tend to think about the contemporary business world.

How is this book to be best appreciated?  For one, the book is very clearly a beast fable, where penguins are given anthropomorphic tendencies in order to make them more relatable.  How you feel about this book will depend in large part on how you feel about business fables that seek to promote some sort of message about being flexible and appreciating the need for change in general.  The authors are certainly able at what they do within their genre, and the details are certainly very amusing and add a lot of flavor to the material as a whole.  But again, this book has an agenda to push positive attitudes towards change and to delegitimize those who tend to be resistant or hostile to change.  To the extent that one is temperamentally conservative, and has a low degree of belief in the sort of environmental panic that undergirds this fable, one will be at least a little bit skeptical or withhold one's full approval from the book.  I found myself to be amused by the book and the way it is constructed, but not really on board with the authors' approach at the same time.  The old ways are often the best ways, after all, even in times like these.
Profile Image for Venky.
949 reviews341 followers
December 27, 2019
From the leading expert of organisational change and leadership comes an endearing fable that undoubtedly will – in fact it already has, since 2019 marks the tenth anniversary of its publication – stand the test of time. John Kotter in tandem with Holger Rathgeber takes his readers on an extraordinary journey involving a colony of threatened penguins.

Fred, a penguin who is intrepid by nature notices that the iceberg which his colony calls ‘home’ is in peril. Caves of water formed deep within the iceberg pose a potential threat of melting. Being a penguin of little consequence and also being aware of the ridicule which a fellow penguin was subject to earlier on account of elucidating a similar potential threat, Fred finds himself in a confounded state. Finally mustering enough courage he presents his findings to Alice, an aggressive but logical penguin who is also part of the Head Penguin Council.

What follows is a riveting tale of organisational intricacies. Politics, leadership, decision-making, change culture, moving away from entrenched dogmas, mentoring, and managerial skills all coalesce together to form the cornerstone of the measure which the penguins hatch to protect and preserve their legacies.

It is easy for the reader to associate himself with the adorable cast of penguin characters, each of which is emblematic of attributes and traits representing variegated frames of thinking and perception. Louis is the greatly respected Head of the Penguins who while accommodating everyone’s suggestions, is firm on the ultimate decision to be made. Buddy is a genial penguin, who while not an intellectual behemoth by any stretch of imagination is the most loved in his colony on account of his transparency, selflessness and an uncanny ability to make friends – and attract lovers! Sally Ann even though a little penguin demonstrates ingenuity and innovation in making things happen. Jordan is the Professorial penguin who can ramble on and on in a purely technical vein but with facts that are astoundingly clear. Finally there is NoNo a pessimist par excellence who is rooted to the status quo and seeped in stereotypes, unwilling to accept change.

John Kotter using the medium of this unforgettable fable reiterates the need for an organisation and its personnel to commit to what he terms “The Eight-Step Process of Successful Change.” In a nutshell, these eight processes are:

Create a sense of Urgency;
Pull together the guiding team;
Develop the Change Vision and Strategy;
Communicate for Understanding and Buy-In;
Empower Others to Act;
Produce Short-Term Wins;
Don’t Let Up; and
Create a New Culture

If you think that a fable involving a group of Emperor Penguins is the preserve of bed time stories for getting your energetic child to sleep, then please think again. Kotter and Rathgeber’s penguins may change the way you go about your professional business – and for the good!
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