Interview: Dr. John Kotter On Creating Organizational Change

You really need to respond to dissenters with simple, clear, common sense answers this will slowly but steadily win an audiences minds and their buy-in. And you have to complement this approach by responding in a respectful manner to those who disagree with you, no matter how much you want to fire back with fighting words. Enthusiastic support from large numbers of people is rarely the product of a nasty fight. If you treat the ones who attack your idea with respect, youll draw more people emotionally to your side. And emotions what we often call the heart are essential to changing behavior. From your experience, what surprises people the most about using buy-in to create organizational change? I think people are surprised at how well it works. A lot of people who reach senior leadership ranks have been schooled in traditional management training. They recognize a need to change, pick a task force of people (maybe the head of HR, a couple of mid-level managers, a senior VP) to oversee the change effort, assign the team their roles and instruct them to make it happen. They dont always articulate an opportunity for their organization and then communicate it widely to obtain a broad-based sense of urgency, from employees, to pursue an exciting opportunity, before pressing ahead. When they do, theyre often shocked to see how quickly changes can start happening.
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