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Kotter’s up against it

Establish a sense of urgency, he said
In other words – make it worth getting out of bed
But If I can sleep my way through life
Avoiding all the strain and strife
Why would I wake to feel the pain?
I think I’ll go to bed again

Form a powerful guiding coalition
This I treat with great suspicion
Sounds like war talk, plots and schemes
PR, persuasion, sell the dreams
To me – but I don’t really care –
I’d rather sit and quietly stare

Create a vision
About what?
And why? Who for? For me?
For others’ future plans, maybe?
How could this vision touch my soul?
It’s only work – it’s not MY goal.

Communicate the vision
Oh good, another presentation
Another power-point demonstration
Can’t wait – will there be coffee, too,
And Danish pastries for the crew
Who they’ll persuade to make things so
But, oh, how little do they know.

Empower others to act on the vision
Look, mate, I’ve got a life to live
What more d’you want us all to give?
It’s only work – it goes away
My deal is that I’m here today
And will return tomorrow, too
And do just what I have to do

Plan for and create short term wins
‘Quick wins’, they call them, in the trade
Implies some sort of hit parade
‘At number one – the HR team,
For handling redundancies like a dream!’
What’s ‘winning’ in this game, for you?
Your definition won’t be true
For others who are in this change
Be careful – we will rearrange
The things we think don’t work for us
With no discussion and no fuss.

Consolidate improvements and produce still more change
Depends on how we feel, you see,
On what will stay and what will be
We might decide to stay the same
Regardless of the changing game
So don’t be fooled by what we say
The past will never go away

Institutionalise new approaches
Unfreeze, re-freeze those blocks of ice
Good old Kurt Lewin – sounds so nice
To melt, to run and then to find
Yourself, a block, in someone’s mind
Of ice, to pop into their gin
As they raise their glass to a new begin (ning)

Dr Jenny Knight


Makes me think that ...

The eight steps to successful change management established by John Kotter has been read by thousands of people and used by hundreds of companies. It has its supporters and its critics from inside academia and organisations. This poem elegantly illuminates those positive and negatives reviews by offering thought provoking verse.


Dr Jenny Knight

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