Leading Change: Why Transformation Efforts Fail
John P. Kotter, Harvard Business Review
Over the past decade, I have watched more than 100 companies try to remake themselves into significantly better competitors. They have included large organizations (Ford) and small ones (Landmark Communications), companies based in the United States (General Motors) and elsewhere (British Airways), corporations that were on their knees (Eastern Airlines), and companies that were earning good money (Bristol-Myers Squibb). These efforts have gone under many banners: total quality management, reengineering, right sizing, restructuring, cultural change, and turnaround. But, in almost every case, the basic goal has been the same: to make fundamental changes in how business is conducted in order to help cope with a new, more challenging market environment.
A few of these corporate change efforts have been very successful. A few have been utter failures. Most fall somewhere in between, with a distinct tilt toward the lower end of the scale. The lessons that can be drawn are interesting and will probably be relevant to even more organizations in the increasingly competitive business environment of the coming decade.
John P. Kotter is the Konosuke Matsushita Professor of Leadership at the Harvard Business School in Boston, Massachusetts and a Chairman at Kotter International. He is the author of The New Rules: How to Succeed in Today’s Post-Corporate World (New York: Free Press, 1995), Corporate Culture and Performance, coauthored with James L. Heskett (New York: Free Press, 1992), and A Force for Change: How Leadership Differs from Management (New York: Free Press, 1990).