Corporate change by winning staff’s hearts

Harvard Business School professor, researcher and consultant John P. Kotter will present his human resource management methodology known as «Eight Points to Achieve Change» at an event in the Greek capital tomorrow. Titled «Leading Change: What Leaders Really Do,» the event at the Athens Concert Hall will allow entrepreneurs and high-ranked staff of public and private corporations to listen to the scientist who has been described as «the most important intellect and creator of know-how and bibliography of Leadership and of Change Leadership.» «Today the ability of a company to change faster than its competitors may be the only competitive advantage than cannot be copied,» wrote Dimitris Bouradas, director of the Executive MBA and MSc Human Resource Management of the Athens University of Economics and Business (AUEB), in the preface of the Greek edition of Kotter and Dan Cohen’s book «The Heart of Change.» This is published in Greece by Prothesis SA, which is also the host of the event. Utilizing a multitude of practical examples from well-known companies, Kotter will explain their successes and mistakes, and the methodology he has developed as a tool for significant and lasting corporate changes. In the book’s introduction, Kotter admits that when his best-selling work «Leading Change» (published 12 years earlier, becoming the bible of the change process) described eight clear phases of how company officials can transform their corporation successfully, he had said as much as possible at the time. The eight phases were: an increasing sense of urgency; the mobilization of a strong guiding team; the creation of a correct vision; its communication and practical application; the strengthening of action and elimination of obstacles to the vision; the scoring of immediate and short-term victories; the continuing mobilization and capitalization of any benefits; and the incorporation of change with the creation of supporting structures. In «The Heart of Change,» though, Kotter and Cohen (head of Deloitte Consulting) have penetrated to the core of the problem that officials face at each of those eight specific phases toward change. Those problems are pride, failure to set up a strong guidance team, lack of vision or degrading of its significance, insufficient communication of the vision, failure to remove obstacles for its communication, lack of systematic programming for small and short-term victories, premature victory celebrations, and failure to incorporate changes in company culture. Based on extensive interviews and on the specific case studies, they realized that the key elements are never the sole challenge in the change process. The essence of the problem is always related to changes in the staff’s behavior. In the successful cases uncovered, this change in behavior came when human feelings were involved. «That holds true not only for corporations oriented toward analysis and quantitative assessment, but even when these people are business administration graduates and want to consider themselves clever,» notes Kotter. Putting aside as «misleading» the old advice to high-level staff, «do not be too sentimental,» the author of this book makes its main message that «people change what they do mostly because they have been shown a truth that speaks to their sentiments and less because they were presented an analysis with which their way of thinking changes.» The event will conclude with a performance by singer Maria Farandouri and pianist Yiannis Vakarelis. It is under the scientific guidance of the Executive MBA program of the AUEB and co-sponsored by SKAI radio station. For more information call 210.362.2096 or visit