If you discovered an entertaining method to learn the ways of a change agent would you jump on it. Because our world is moving faster and faster with each passing day, your answer should probably be "Yes, I want to master the art of change."
Lucky for you, John Kotter has written a story called Our Iceberg Is Melting. Its about a colony of penguins who learn their iceberg is no longer a safe place to live. How does this melting-iceberg-cute-penguin story help you?
Well, story is like a central IV to your brain. Story delivers insights that help you navigate this ambiguous world. Professor Kotter deftly uses story techniques to capture your imagination and inspire you.
Let's consider one of the characters — NoNo the penguin.
How did NoNo get his name. One theory suggested his first words as a baby were not "Ma" or "Pa," but "No, No." This perturbing penguin objected to every idea Fred (hero of the story who wants to save penguin colony from melting iceberg) came up with to solve the melting iceberg problem.
I told a coworker about NoNo the penguin. He replied, "Yes, we had a NoNo at the last place I worked. That guy hated new ideas." I bet you've endured more than one NoNo during your career. In the IceBerg story, NoNo is an archetype. Story consultant, James Bonnet calls this the holdfast or threshold guardian archetype.
If you're unable to overcome the resistance created by a holdfast, you may not be up to the challenge or ready to receive the benefits of change.
Show, Don't Tell
For a change effort to succeed, you'll need to do more showing than telling. Here again, John Kotter's story delivers. Instead of lecturing that demonstrations are more effective than a briefcase of facts, Kotter creates a scene for Fred, showing the future of the iceberg. To prove the melting ice could fracture into thousands of ice chunks, Fred fills a bottle with water and leaves it out overnight.
At dawn's first light, Fred retrieves the bottle and displays it for doubting penguins to see. Shock rocks the penguins. The bottle is broken and fractured. This could be the fate of the iceberg, and the penguins. So they take steps to act.
The hidden message? Instead of reading facts, get your audience to see, feel, act.
Our Iceberg is Melting shows Kotter's 8-step process for leading change. The story provides a context for rapidly learning the 8 steps. You may want to share the story with a small team, and then provide the story to the entire group that must change.
Stories like Our Iceberg is Melting will help your teams develop ambidextroius skills, allowing them to switch between a story that motivates and the details needed to implement change.