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The Heart of Change: Real-Life Stories of How People Change Their Organizations

3.97  ·  Rating details ·  2,235 ratings  ·  91 reviews
Why is organizational change so hard? Because in order to make any transformation successful, you must change more than just the structure and operations of an organization—you need to change people’s behavior. And that is never easy.

The Heart of Change is your guide to helping people think and feel differently in order to meet your shared goals. According to bestselling a
Hardcover, 208 pages
Published August 1st 2002 by Harvard Business Review Press (first published 1999)
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3.97  · 
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 ·  2,235 ratings  ·  91 reviews

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Fred Penguin
Apr 25, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Harry C. Edwards wrote this review. The Heart of Change is the follow-up to John Kotter's enormously popular book Leading Change, in which he outlines a framework for implementing change that sidesteps many of the pitfalls common to organizations looking to turn themselves around. The essence of Kotter's message is this: the reason so many change initiatives fail is that they rely too much on "data gathering, analysis, report writing, and presentations" instead of a more creative approach aimed ...more
Aug 29, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: business
This book is a follow-up to Leading Change. It illustrates Kotter's change theory (see next paragraph) with real stories. Main finding of The Heart of Change: the central issue is never strategy, structure, culture, or systems - core of the matter is always about changing behavior or people which happens mostly by speaking to their feelings. Highly successful change efforts folow a seeing-feeling-changing pattern.

Kotter's eight stages: push urgency up, put together a guiding team, create the vis
Jul 07, 2019 rated it really liked it
This is a sequel to the seminal book “Leading change” by Kotter. I stumbled onto the original book via an HBR article and was surprised by how relevant the book was, even forty years after being written. This book “Heart of change” expounds further on the 8 stage framework for leading transformational change and explains how people need to “see” changes, “feel” deeply about the desired change and only then be able to effectively change. More importantly, the book provides compelling real world s ...more
Apr 21, 2013 rated it liked it
I kinda have mixed feelings on this one.

Con: it was a little on the repetitive/boring side.
Pro: repetition is the mother of all learning.

Con: it's written targeted at middle/senior managers (ie, not me)

Con: it doesn't talk about the fundamentals as much as Switch
Pro: it has a more step-by-step framework than Switch

I guess I'd say it's a really good book for a manager type to read (as opposed to Switch, which I would recommend for a peon like myself). But the first book I'd suggest for a manger w
Businesses and large organizations need to change in order to stay competitive and relevant. But change is hard and there are many that think that good enough is good enough, or that it's work so far... Kotter has 8 steps and lots of stories to help demonstrate how a manager will lead the change.

Why I started this book: Audio for the win.

Why I finished it: Short audio, with some great but dated stories. (First published in 1994) Video conferencing is going to be a huge management win. Good remin
May 21, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Entrepreneurs, Business Leaders
A very good book for change management at organisation and successful transformation. Author explain 8 steps for successful change management. As an entrepreneur and business owner, you must have this book in his/her library. This is not just a one-time read but you can refer it several times as a textbook. The Heart of Change can be a guide to helping people think and feel differently in order to meet their shared goals.

Watch our full review for the book here
Nidhal Ben Tahar
Jan 09, 2017 rated it really liked it
I liked the fact that the book was built around examples, which makes the arguments and ideas more sticky.

On the other hand, I'm skeptic about the whole concept of top-down large scale organizational change. I've read this book in the midst of my study of lean practices and principles and find those very superior in terms of change prescriptions and dynamics.
Danielle  Lucas
Mar 13, 2018 rated it really liked it
I really enjoyed this book! I had to read it for my Doctorate, but the author makes the steps of organizational change easier to understand through storytelling. The tactic helps you to absorb the information as well as inspire you to take action. Great book!
Jeanne Halloran
Sep 14, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Explains 8 steps to changing a group of people for a better organization. Good read.
Mar 21, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Very practical approach to change. Read for EdD program.
Jun 12, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Better than I thought, but most management are jerks so I doubt much of it would work.
Mitchell Kusy
Feb 24, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This appreciate John Kotter's evidence-based approach. I have suggested this book to many clients. Bravo, John!
Jul 19, 2017 rated it liked it
Had to read this book for a class. It wasn't exactly riveting but it gave some helpful tips.
Patrick Hutchinson
Mar 25, 2017 rated it really liked it
I had to read this book for an organizational change course in my Ed.D. program --- I was not interested in this topic before, but I really did love this book! The practical examples that were included made for a fun and practical read.
John Olson

Not, terrible, possibly useful, but underwhelming as one of the “classics” of new management literature. Much preferred Drive or Switch.
Nadya Ichinomiya
Jun 26, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Great case studies of companies who have leveraged the 8 step organizational transformation stages of John Kotter's framework.
Cathy Allen
It always seemed to me that "change management" is a funny field to get into. Since nothing ever stays the same, isn't managing change something that most of us are doing most of the time? We need special consultants for this?

Yet, I find that I am more and more drawn to the subject. One of my favorite LinkedIn groups is called the Organizational Change Practitioners. I get a weekly breakdown of their discussions and always profit by taking the time to read it. These are people who are serious ab
Feb 19, 2010 rated it really liked it
I read this book as part of my "self-development" challenge for work and also because I was looking for a way to help my sales team feel inspired in their jobs. By far, my take-away was showing rather than telling - the selection about a company taping customers and having different departments view the dissatisfaction (and the subsequent emotional move to put aside differences in order to change ways) caused me to think about the way I needed to present information to my team. I also appreciate ...more
Julie Connor
Apr 29, 2014 rated it really liked it
Kotter's and Cohen's "The Heart of Change" provides a solid leadership framework for managing and guiding others through change and welcoming challenges as opportunities to experience positive growth. The author explains how transformation offers opportunities to address the organizational culture, promote self-reflection, encourage meaningful dialogue, and provide a safe environment for behavioral change.

The authors explain how individual and organizational react and process change. Kotter and
Sep 02, 2010 rated it liked it
Shelves: leadership
This was a good book teaching about change management. In order to create lasting change it emphasizes the need to really influence people's emotions and not just their thinking. There are eight important things necessary in this type of change:
1. urgency
2. the right guiding team
3. vision
4. communication
5. empowerment
6. short-term wins
7. don't let up
8. make it stick
This book reminded me a lot of The Influencer: The Power to Change Anything, but I liked The Influencer much better--it gave more co
Jan 15, 2014 rated it really liked it
Lots of great information and stories which illustrate the teachings in very concrete ways. My only frustration is the that one of the key points of the book is that much of the difficulty of change is the emotional challenges. Yet in the examples it seems to address the emotional issues more indirectly than directly.

I was hoping for more direct discussion of how to handle the emotional aspects of change. Still a very good resource for anyone trying to change anything.

Also I was impressed with
Minjee Kong
Feb 20, 2014 rated it liked it
Shelves: school
I had to read "The Heart of Change" for a business class and I found the eight steps to large-scale change to be very insightful. Applying the steps from the book to basic issues we face every day in our lives can really help us to work towards change and success. I found most of the book to be extremely repetitive, causing me to skim over the major points rather than thoroughly reading. I think this book is a good book to browse for everyone studying not only business because the ideas througho ...more
Robert Bogue
Mar 27, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
You would think that with the great value I saw in John Kotter’s Leading Change book I would have jumped to read The Heart of Change – but I didn’t. Part of that may be the fact that I’ve had a pretty deep reading list for a while. Part of it may have been that I felt like I had extracted the most valuable piece from Kotter’s work – the process. No matter what the reason, more time spent with the change model was well worth it.

Click here to read the full review
Timothy Chklovski
I've only skimmed the second half of the book. As a sort of companion to Kotter's "Leading Change", it presents several brief anecdotes illustrating the eight steps of driving change.
While an interesting enough read, it's a but further afield for someone trying to become a better investor and business analyst. At a very high level, the book illustrates the point that change is driven by influencing how people feel; influencing people's feelings with prepared, highly visual, clear-cut actions and
Jan 13, 2012 rated it liked it
Kotter's book emphasizes the need to incorporate emotional appeal and demonstration into the organizational change process. He argues convincingly - supported by many examples - for a "see-feel'change" rather than an "analyze-think-change" approach, while not discounting the need for analysis and information. It's a useful book for anyone responsible for implementing change in an organization of any type.
Nov 26, 2012 rated it really liked it
My favorite things about this book:
• short, focused chapters
• excellent, real-world examples/stories
• each chapter ends with a cliff notes-type summary
• clear love of bulleted lists
• actionable, the whole thing is so friggin actionable, I love it

Best work ever, no, but boy did it give me ideas and set my frame of mind for work in progress and to come. Definitely recommend to anyone in management or a position of influence.
Rhonda Sue
Apr 30, 2015 rated it really liked it
This is a very meaty book, with an 8 step process to effectuate change in small or large organizations. I took notes and hope to share this with the organizations I'm involved with. The stories and examples were extremely helpful. I would highly recommend this book to anyone looking for strong advice and help in this area. Frankly, the information can help in many areas where change is required, even outside the work arena.
Jun 02, 2015 rated it liked it
As far as business books go, The Heart of Change was pretty interesting. It contains dozens of stories from mid- to senior-level executives who successfully lead change in their organizations, all highlightin the author's eight steps for successful large-scale change. The information was easy to understand and apply, and it was presented in such a way that it wasn't too abstract to be useful. Recommended for people who read business books for fun(??).
Oct 10, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: work-development
Read this for a reading group at work. I found it straight-forward and easy to read. Most of the book is real-life stories illustrating the eight steps of change, which seem applicable to any other workplace. This book definitely got my creative juices flowing with lots of ideas for change at my workplace!
Jul 23, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: leadership
I appreciated Kotter's use of examples throughout. A great follow-up to Our Iceberg is Melting. Where Iceberg engages the reader by illustrating the principles through a fable, HOC puts some meat on the bones, but remains equally helpful through use of short cases illustrating each of the eight steps. I also appreciated the See-Feel-Change vs. Think-Analyze-Change discussion.
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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 an ...more
“Never underestimate the power of the mind to disempower.” 2 likes
“Never underestimate the power of clever people to help others see the possibilities, to help them generate a feeling of faith, and to change behavior.” 1 likes
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