That’s Not How We Do It Here!: A book review by Bob Morris

That's Not HowThat’s Not How We Do It Here!: A Story about How Organizations Rise and Fall–and Can Rise Again
John Kotter and Holger Rathgeber
Portfolio Penguin/An Imprint of Penguin Random House (June 2016)

How to create and then sustain a best-of-both-worlds organization

Previously, John Kotter and Holger Rathgeber used the business parable/fable format featuring penguins in Our Iceberg Is Melting (2006) to explain how to create a sense of urgency and increase buy-in throughout when a severe crisis develops, one that could destroy the organization. In their latest collaboration, they use the same format — this time featuring a clan of markets — to explain how and why all organizations need a dual system: one that responds effectively and efficiently to immediate demands as well as developments in a global marketplace that becomes more volatile, more uncertain, more complex, and more ambiguous each day.

Kotter and Rathgeber recommend an eight-step process that is best revealed within the narrative, in context, on Pages 152-155. “Much of this was discovered by one of us — Kotter — years ago. But today, in a faster changing world, the basic method has grown and evolved in three particularly import ways. First, it is no longer a set of processes you bring out of the file drawer once every five, ten or fifteen years…Second, it requires many more people than before engaged not just inn cooperating to implement the visionary ideas of top management but in finding ideas, dealing with all the institutional and attitudinal barriers to change, and motivating large groups to act in new ways — in other words, helping to lead. And third, to make the first two points practically feasible, it requires a second component working hand in glove with a traditional management-driven hierarchy, something that looks more like a highly-successful start-up organization.”

This is a dual system, the “best-of-both-worlds,” one that combines — indeed integrates — the strengths of a traditional management-driven hierarchy with those of a highly-successful start-up organization. How the meercats installed their system is revealed in the book. How this system is designed for and then installed in your organization is for you and your colleagues to determine.

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