September 29, 2006
Harvard Business School Professor John Kotter is widely regarded as the world's foremost authority on leadership and change. His has been the premier voice on how the best organizations actually "do" change. John Kotter’s international bestseller Leading Change—which outlined an actionable, 8-step process for implementing successful transformations—became the change bible for managers around the world. In October 2001, Business Week magazine rated Kotter the #1 "leadership guru" in America based on a survey they conducted of 504 enterprises. His newest work released September 2006, Our Iceberg Is Melting, puts the 8-step process within an allegory, making it accessible to the broad range of people needed to effect major organizational transformations.
So the first question John if you could please share with us what you have achieved in your professional life and what you are most proud of.
John Kotter: Well, what am I most proud of? I am most proud of is a sixteen year old and a fifteen year old kid that I have. It just delights me to death when I get emails and I bump into people who have actually taken things that they have heard me talk about or I have written and they have gone out and done something with it. They didn’t just hear it or remember it but they have done something and they have gotten better results and it has benefited organisations, the people in those organisations, customers etc. and benefited in not a small way. It is a pleasure to hear those stories again and again and of course it makes you feel very proud. And in terms of what I have succeeded, I am not sure of even how to answer that, I mean I have got a great life. I focus on something I like and has become as good as it as anybody in the world, when you do that you make a lot of money and if you do it right you can make a lot of friends. I am proud of my books and my teaching and I am good at them I think because I feel passionate about it and I think it is terrific to pick something and to become really really great at it. That is a wonderful measure of success along with actually helping people.
Patrick: So how did you identify your talents and how did you decide what profession you wanted to pursue. Another way to ask this question is how did you find your voice?
John Kotter: To some degree it is just following and paying attention to the feedback you get from both the outside and the inside of you. I started off my professional trail freshman, college I was going to be a physicist then I went to electrical engineering from then to labour economics from then business and then to organisational behaviour and from there to basically where I am now which is focussing on leadership in a changing world. And each of those changes or each of those little migrations were based on trial and error. I wanted something to work on, how much did I like it how well was I doing it and how good does it feel inside and if you pay attention to at least in my case to the signals you are getting from the outside world about how much that is working and helping and you pay attention to the signals that are coming from inside of you about how muc