Our Iceberg Is Melting: Changing and Succeeding Under Any Conditions

Our Iceberg Is Melting: Changing and Succeeding Under Any Conditions

by John Kotter, Holger Rathgeber


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The revised and updated tenth anniversary edition of the classic, beloved business fable that has changed millions of lives in organizations around the world.
Our Iceberg Is Melting is a simple story about doing well under the stress and uncertainty of rapid change. Based on the award-winning work of Harvard Business School’s John Kotter, it can help you and your colleagues thrive during tough times.
On an iceberg near the coast of Antarctica, group of beautiful emperor pen­guins live as they have for many years. Then one curious bird discovers a potentially devastating problem threatening their home—and almost no one listens to him.
The characters in the story—Fred, Alice, Louis, Buddy, the Professor, and NoNo—are like people you probably recognize in your own organization, including yourself. Their tale is one of resistance to change and heroic action, seemingly intractable obstacles and clever tactics for dealing with those obstacles. The penguins offer an inspiring model as we all struggle to adapt to new circumstances.
Our Iceberg Is Melting is based on John Kotter's pioneer­ing research into the eight steps that can produce needed change in any sort of group. After finishing the story, you'll have a powerful framework for influencing your own team, no matter how big or small.

This tenth anniversary edition preserves the text of the timeless story, together with new illustrations, a revised afterword, and a Q&A with the authors about the responses they've gotten over the past decade. Prepare to be both enlightened and delighted, whether you're already a fan of this classic fable or are discovering it for the first time. 

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780399563911
Publisher: Penguin Publishing Group
Publication date: 01/05/2016
Pages: 176
Sales rank: 8,719
Product dimensions: 5.70(w) x 8.30(h) x 0.80(d)

About the Author

John Kotter,professor emeritus at Harvard Business School, is often called the world’s foremost authority on leadership and change. His many books, including Leading Change and That's Not How We Do It Here!, have been translated into more than 200 foreign language editions and have been bestsellers around the world. He is a founder of Kotter International, a consulting firm that specializes in helping leaders transform their organizations.  
Holger Rathgeber is the coauthor of That's Not How We Do It Here!, a former executive at a medical products firm, and a principal at Kotter International.

Read an Excerpt

What People Are Saying

“Our Iceberg Is Melting is superb. It embodies powerful messages that can help a broad audience. It covers all the steps to success in a changing world, from finding the substantial issues, aligning with a potent champion, charting the course, getting buy-in, dealing with those who want no change, and so on.”

“Never have I read a parable in a business book that took a complex issue like change management and distilled it down into a simple story for all to understand. This is the ideal follow-on to Leading Change and The Heart of Change. A must-read for anyone dealing with managing change.”

“Our Iceberg Is Melting is fantastic—offbeat, but right on. We should make everyone in Washington, D.C., read it.”

“I came across Our Iceberg Is Melting in May, ordered and distributed sixty copies in June, evaluated its effect on our change effort, and then ordered five hundred more copies in September. This is a gem.”

“This is the easiest-to-read yet most informative book I have ever seen. Setting one of management’s biggest challenges—‘what problem, I don’t see a problem’—in the context of a melting iceberg and a determined penguin was a stroke of sheer genius.”

“I have followed Kotter’s work for years, respect it greatly, use it with my clients, and know its unique power to help people and organizations perform better. This latest effort—this little penguin tale—is, in my opinion, the best and most useful book he has ever written.”

“As a result of the book and my sharing it with a few people in the organization, we have moved quickly on several fronts. We are galvanized to go ahead instead of further studying, more organizing, and so on. It is making a difference for us.”

“It’s a great book. It does an excellent job of communicating in a simple and humorous way the key challenges of leading change. We can easily identify with the characters. It allows a light-hearted discussion of very difficult issues.”

“When I was a child in France, I was first introduced to the French classic The Little Prince. I reread this marvelous book while in college and many times since as an adult. It is a book that keeps me growing and thinking. I can see Our Iceberg Is Melting becoming The Little Prince for the twenty-first century.”


Excerpted from "Our Iceberg Is Melting"
by .
Copyright © 2016 John Kotter.
Excerpted by permission of Penguin Publishing Group.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Customer Reviews

Our Iceberg Is Melting: Changing and Succeeding Under Any Conditions 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 79 reviews.
tBunnyMan More than 1 year ago
The message and idea's behind this book are potent and important. However the presentation of the book is painful to digest. The focus of a "Leadership Fable" is to try and present important management concepts in a real world situation, also adding an amusing twist to the whole learning ordeal. I feel this book fails miserably at that. Judged as a work of fiction I would hesitate to use this for torture for risk of cruel & unusual punishment. It's obvious this book was written after having had read "The Very Hungry Caterpillar" and "The Giving Tree" to his child one too many times before bed. Every character is a cartoonish caracture with obscenely obtuse behavioral patterns. For example, the "brains" of the operation behaves more like an autistic child than an intelligent council member. Lencioni's books are far better at telling a story using real people in a way that doesn't incessantly insult the intelligence of the reader. I'd read this to my child when he is old enough but I was shocked this was required reading for my management training program.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
As an educator, amidst the many changes, I found this extremely motivating and reconfirmed the fact that only working together with everyone on board can changes happen and be effective.
Robert Burton More than 1 year ago
great story to illustrate change in the workplace. excellent book
Kevinaom More than 1 year ago
Professor Kotter continues to amaze me at how clearly he articulates the need for change and the steps to execute change. This book tells the story in an innovative way by using a fable of sorts. "Create a shared desire / need for change", the "power of the quick win", "Don't be complacent and always have urgency" are just a few of the items brought to light in this book. The question we all must ask is that if this is such "common sense" (I hear that all the time in business) then why do so few companies do this (i.e., change) well? An example of a company which executed it at least once is IBM (move from hardware to services) but those types of examples are few and far between. The next question is even if you can pick a company that changed dramatically once, why do so few of those companies make it a "culture of change". In the IBM example, will their services model keep up with "cloud computing and software as a service (SaaS)? Probably will but again, even when companies get it right once they rarely get it right two three or four times. Of course we all know now that business IS the business of change. In a "copycat" economy, if you are going to stay in front and not get bogged down in a commodity style price war you have to keep changing. If nothing else, reading from Professor Kotter's books keeps your mind thinking of change.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
It is a very good book to use in order to take a look at your organization or learning community. I am an educator and our department was given this book for our book study. It reads a little slow, but it gets you to take a good look at the issues by using penquins.
D-Style More than 1 year ago
Great book, kept you on you sit, did not won't to put it down.
tlhosig More than 1 year ago
Written as a fable this is a very quick read with a lot of information - read it twice for the impact of the lessons that are being taught. There are a number of personalities in the book who will seem familiar and that helps to make it "real". I used it for a presentation in a master's level leadership course and the Executive Director of a nonprofit I am involved with has used it to help the staff through some challenging times recently.
jwott More than 1 year ago
John Kotter has proven again that he knows how to take a complex subject like change and put it into an easily understandable tail.
jrsedivy More than 1 year ago
"Our Iceberg Is Melting" is a fable which deals with the subjects of change management, human behavior, and team building in similar form as "Who Moved My Cheese". Some interesting insights may be drawn concerning human behavior - specifically how people react to change, differing personalities, and the challenges that one may encounter when working in a small team environment. There are at least a couple disturbing techniques (at least in my opinion) that encourage crowd behavior and lessen independent thinking. Not my cup of tea but may be a good fit for someone seeking guidance in a corporate environment.
Bic47 More than 1 year ago
This book stresses the ability (and necessity) of changing one's functioning in one's life to changng circumstances in which one's finds him/herself. This adaptability is critical for one to maintain his/her lifestyle or place in the community, in business (owner or employee), or family (parent, child, sibling, etc). It is very worthwhile in that it presents coping behaviors one needs to incorporate in order to meet the challenges one may face on a daily (or otherwise) basis.
Jason_Ball More than 1 year ago
In the current economy, it's easy to feel as if things are slipping away from underneath your feet. For many industries, they probably are. Either way, we can all use a good wake up call for thinking about change, and taking a proactive approach at making things better. Our Iceberg is Melting does just that.

Another parable I strongly recommend is Squawk! - How to Stop Making Noise and Start Getting Results.
mike-v More than 1 year ago
So on a day when I was setting up the business section in the new store, hating life and my job in general, I saw this book sitting on the shelf. I read the title and thought to my self "Hey...MY iceberg is melting! In fact, it's already gone." I was so interested that, rather than wait until the store is open, I drove to the library after work and checked it out.

It's like 120 pages, with giant print, and full of pictures--you can read it in a long night easily. It's a story of a colony of fake penguins who discover their iceberg is melting and they have to do something about it. I was a little disappointed [hence the -1 star:] that the message is geared more towards large organizations than individuals, but the bottom line is almost the same.

I didn't even really need to read this book--I just had to see the title--to realize that my own personal "iceberg" was in danger of melting. It's helped me realize I need to keep looking for that next opportunity. And to think I never thought I would fall for one of these cheesy business books! :-)
M_L_Gooch_SPHR More than 1 year ago
My daughter gave me a copy of this book. As a corporate human resources director, she believed I would enjoy the subject. I can truly say that she underestimated the enjoyment I derived from these penguins.

This book is a must read for anyone that manages people with all of their quirks and baggage. While the book is largely common sense, it opens your eyes to various tools to stimulate discussion and engage in effective communication.

There is no better way to teach a topic than to build an interesting story around the topic. This empowers the subject in a way that straightforward narrative and lecture style can never achieve. Keep writing John Kotter. It is a great book. Michael L. Gooch
Guest More than 1 year ago
Kotter's book is unlike any business parable I've seen (except for one, I'll get to that in a minute). It uses animals (penguins on an iceberg) as a metaphor for the challenging environment in which corporations operate today and their resistance to organizational change. Unlike the over simplified WHO MOVED MY CHEESE, these animals have far more human characteristics that pose challenges like those you face in your work and they'll remind you of people you know. Hard to fully explain how it works so well, but, believe me, it works. Highly recommended. The only other book I've seen do this so well is SQUAWK!: HOW TO STOP MAKING NOISE AND START GETTING RESULTS, which uses a seagull manager to illustrate the problem managers are having these days with swooping in at the last minute, squawking up a storm and dumping orders riddled with formulaic advice upon their people. Highly recommended as well.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I have read John Kotter's previous work on leading change so I was curious as to whether his concepts could be effectively conveyed in fable form. To my delight, I discovered that Kotter put his own findings about the power of stories to work to create an engaging story that conveys his principles about organizational change more powerfully. By reading this book, my staff and colleagues remember the steps and continue to be guided by them as we transform our work group and help to transform our company. I highly recommend this book!
StefanNijenhuis on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Quick read. Read it in Dutch. This book tells a story about how a colony of penguins have to change drasticly and how they succeeed to do it. Some crucial roles are stereotyped and represented as individual penguins. The story is based on the principles of change management, described in another book by the same author 'Leading Change'.
Cailin on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Assigned reading for work!
alexdaw on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I know that I should like this book and give it a good review but I didn't and I can't.I think I would have preferred Kotter's original book about change management without all the animal nonsense that is in this.This is the kind of book a manager goes out and buys for all their staff and says "Read this! It won't take you long. You'll have it finished by this afternoon/tonight!" And they'd be correct. It doesn't take long to read at all. So for goodness sake read it and have a discussion with me if you will.I just object to the use of "dumbing-down" or sugar-coating management speak. The analogy for me is lame (OMG I'm using teenager type words - it must have really touched a sensitive nerve in me!) What we're talking about here is change-management. In this "picture book for grown ups" we're presented with a fable about a group of penguins who are sitting on a melting iceberg. Where can they go? Will they listen to the wise lone penguin voice in the wilderness who says they have to go, when it would be so much more comfortable to stay (and all drown and witness their kids dying?????) Let's forget about the fact that penguins can swim. Let's forget about the fact that penguins can't talk. Just humour me for a second. If you are willing to suspend disbelief and go along with penguins being as silly as humans, then you would understand why I have a fundamental problem with this tale. It just doesn't ring true. Maybe I am too cynical. Maybe I am reading this too literally. I don't think so. I don't think I am like the very subtly (deep cynicism here folks) named "NoNo" character in the book. I just hate being spoken to as if I am a 3rd-grader. In this book we are to believe that all the penguins, if they cooperate and pull-together will re-locate to a better iceberg - every five years. Oh puhleeeeeezzzzz. Anyone who has been through change knows that not all the penguins get to go......and it's never another better iceberg. Animal Farm would be a better read at this point I think....a better iceberg for some.I'm not saying I object to change. I just wish someone would call it like it is for once. Be honest. Tell it like it is. Acknowledge that there will be collateral damage for the sake of the survival of the fittest and all that.What do you think? Am I a "NoNo". Should I read Kotter's other book?
ashishg on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
If Kotter thought that he could do Johnson (of Who Moved My Cheese), well, he failed. In efforts to make ideas into a fable, he ended up creating a hardly interesting numbingly childish story. That aside, information given about change management is fine. But then, I am hardly good receipient of management gyaan where obvious wisdom is passed on as ultimate truth. Steps of chage management? Create urgency, form team, create vision, communicate vision, empower people, get short-term win, don't give up, create new culture. There.
oldbookswine on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
a rewriting of Who moved my cheese only on an iceberg
rohetherington on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This is an important book, delivered through a short entertaining fable. Jack Welch said about organizations, ¿If the rate of change on the outside exceeds the rate of change on the inside, the end is near.¿ The rate of technological change today is staggering. Technology is enabling rapid changes in the way clients and customers consume and engage with information, media and content - along with the tools they use. This is impacting industries one by one (e.g. news industry vs user generated content, music/movie industry vs peer-to-peer download sites, traditional gaming industry vs social gaming applications...)Leading the same rate of change within organisations, to keep pace with the external environment, is an enormous challenge. We can learn a lot from the penguins in this story (who demonstrate Kotter's 8 steps to change management simply, clearly and with a staggering level of intelligence)!
sandrafelker on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Use of a parable to demonstrate a point. A little cheesy - wish I hadn't bought it but not an absolute waste of time.
jjmachshev on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Yet another work read and this one sticks in my mind. Probably as much for the entertainment value as the educational one. How to identify and work with those resistant to change (for whatever reason) without letting them, yourself, or your work get sidetracked.
LynnB on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
What a wonderful illustration of the power of story-telling. The authors use a parable about a colony of penguins who discover that their home is melting to illustrate how to lead and manage change within an organization. Easy to read, and written in a way that the messages are bound to stay with you. As a bonus, it is beautifully illustrated.
elmyra on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
A colleague lent me this and I put it in my travel bags - it makes for light airport reading when you're on a 20-hour trip from San Jose, Costa Rica to Newcastle after a week of meetings. It's a good summary of Kotter's theory on change leadership for the travelling braindead, and an easy way to get into Kotter if that's what you want.Bechdel: pass, in a token sort of way.