John Kotter Profile

Combining roles as a New York Times bestselling author, a business entrepreneur, an inspirational business and management thought leader and speaker, and last but not least a Harvard Professor, Dr.John P.Kotter is recognized as being at the forefront of theories about leadership and change.

Educated at MIT and Harvard, at the age of thirty-three Kotter became a full tenured professor at the Harvard Business School, the youngest person ever to have been so honored. His articles for The Harvard Business Review have sold more reprints than for any other contributor over the past thirty years. His article “Accelerate!” won the McKinsey Award for the world’s most practical and innovative thinking in business and management. He continues to teach on Harvard Business School’s Executive Education Programs where his seminars are greatly in demand by students.

Kotter’s publishing history encompasses eighteen books, twelve of which have made the bestseller lists. More than 150 foreign-language editions of his books are available. Taking a group of penguins on a melting iceberg as an allegory for the need for major organizational transformation, his most popular book, Our Iceberg is Melting is a New York Times bestseller. His book Leading Change was nominated by Time magazine as one of the twenty-five most influential business management books ever written.

Kotter has released a number of videos to expand on his ideas, many of which are available on YouTube. “Succeeding in a Changing World” won the Training Media Review Video Training Product of the Year award, as well as a Tally award. His videos have garnered many hundreds of thousands of views with an audience ranging from students to CEOs.

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    Regarded by many as the authority on leadership and change, Dr. John P. Kotter is a New York Times best-selling author, award winning business and management thought leader, business entrepreneur, inspirational speaker, and Harvard Professor.

    His ideas and books, as well as his company, Kotter International, have helped mobilize people around the world to better lead organizations and their own lives, in an era of increasingly rapid change.

    Professor Kotter’s MIT and Harvard education laid the foundation for his life-long passion for educating, motivating and helping people. He became a member of the Harvard Business School faculty in 1972. By 1980, at the age of 33, Kotter was given tenure and a full Professorship—the youngest person ever to have received that award at the Business School.

    Over the past thirty years, his articles in The Harvard Business Review (HBR) have sold more reprints than any of the hundreds of distinguished authors who have written for that publication during that time period. Most recently, his HBR article “Accelerate!” won the 2012 McKinsey Award for the world’s most practical and groundbreaking thinking in the business / management arena.

    Today, he continues to deliver seminars in Harvard Business School’s Executive Education Programs, which are sometimes regarded as life-changing by his students.

    Kotter has authored 18 books to date—twelve of them bestsellers. His books have reached millions, and have been printed in over 150 foreign language editions. Arguably his most popular book, Our Iceberg is Melting, was released in 2006. This New York Times bestseller helped launch to a large audience the 8-step philosophy behind Kotter International. Written as an allegory, it is a simple, yet unforgettable story about a group of penguins on a melting iceberg and the changes they undertake to survive and thrive amidst an unclear future. This story connects with a broad range of people needed to effect major organizational transformations in an easily understood, clear way.

    Other widely read books include A Sense of Urgency, The Heart of Change, and Leading Change, which Time magazine selected in 2011 as one of the 25 most influential business management books ever written. Professor Kotter is currently working on writing his 19th book.

    To supplement his books and expand on his ideas, Kotter has released several videos on his teachings, most of which are accessible to anyone interested in his work via YouTube. His “Succeeding in a Changing World” video was awarded Best Video Training Product of the Year by Training Media Review and also won a Telly Award. His YouTube videos have been watched by hundreds of thousands and continue to be a helpful tool for anyone from students to high-level executives in the business world.

    Kotter’s research and pursuits in education, business, and writing over the past 35 years have earned the respect of his peers, helped transform organizations around the world, touched countless lives, and still inspires others to adopt his methods and spread the word. He continues to work tirelessly to achieve the goal of “millions leading, billions benefiting.”

John Kotter Speaking Videos

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John Kotter's Speech Descriptions

John Kotter brings the experience of decades of study of managers and executives to his dynamic, interactive presentations. He explains how and why leaders fail and how companies can fill significant gaps in their leadership capacity. Kotter is passionate about the 8-Step Process for Leading Change and works hard to instill his principles in his audience.

Kotter has one ambition for his speeches; that they motivate action to engender better results. He can explain how change can be led and how others can be persuaded that change is necessary. He has keynotes on how those wanting to make changes can promote a true sense of urgency and the crucial differences between leadership and management.

For nearly four decades, Dr. Kotter has been studying managers and executives who work in complex organizations. His focus has been on a broad range of questions: Who are these people? What are the key challenges they face in their work? What do they actually do on the job? Why are some much more effective and/or successful than others? How does true organizational change happen in the real world of business? This stream of work has enabled him to uncover vital characteristics and principles for any successful change effort, as well as help our clients lead their own organizations in better ways.

Through his work, Kotter International wants to provide useful ways of thinking about leadership in these large, complex organizations, and show why that kind of leadership is particularly important today. We want to help firms fill significant gaps in their leadership capacity. We want to help a critical mass of leaders in these large organizations become literate in the 8-Step Process for Leading Change, as well as help them understand the critical differences between leadership and management. And we want to work directly with these organizations, not just teaching the principles, but also putting the principles to work in real-world change efforts.

Dr. John Kotter speaks to audiences in a dynamic and interactive fashion. During his presentation, Professor Kotter will utilize slides, video clips and other media to relate how companies fail and succeed. He then opens up the floor for comments and suggested outcomes or solutions. This type of format allows audiences to interact and be a part of the demonstration of change. Participation is vital in order to achieve successful transformation. When Dr. Kotter speaks to his audience, he speaks with one and only one goal: to motivate action that gets better results.

"A Sense of Urgency"
Clients will explore the importance of this seemingly easy to express topic. What is the right way to create a sense of urgency? What is a false sense of urgency? Where do you go once the urgency is established? These and other important questions will be answered as your company explores how to follow the right path to establishing a true sense of urgency and continuing down the road to successful change.

"Leading Change"
This speech focuses on the eight-step process of implementing successful transformation. You will learn how companies can achieve their goals and how important it is to have successful leadership in order to make change happen. With personal attention to a company′s efforts and failures, John Kotter can help to create lasting change as well as successful leaders.

"Our Iceberg Is Melting"
When change is needed in an organization, sometimes the hardest part is getting everyone to believe it. John Kotter will introduce his eight-steps for successful change in an easy to understand format. By providing the guidance needed in an ever changing world, audiences will begin to see how dealing with the challenges of change can be compelling when presented in the right way.

"Succeeding in a Changing World"
As the economy and world change, so must organizations. The pressure for organizations to modify their business will only increase in the years to come. Many times a good plan can get lost in the midst of implementation. The methods used to restructure or reorganize often fail due to complacency, loss of traction, lack of leadership and other barriers. Learn from John Kotter how great companies succeed where others fail to achieve lasting change in today′s world.

"Leadership vs. Management"
Many organizations today are over managed and under led because people do not know the difference between management and leadership. There are significant differences and each have an effect, both negative and positive, on a company′s performance. John Kotter will explain and motivate the vital importance of the right leadership needed for a company′s success.

What People are Saying about Seeing John Speak

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“Someone had mistakenly told me that “his writing is better than his presentation.” Nothing could be further from the truth! One of the most inspiring and thought generating speakers I have encountered. Reminds me of an academic Tony Robbins (please, that is my frame of compliment!) What better gift to give other than the gift of provoking thought and changes in behavior.”

“A superb performer and the content was highly relevant. Fun. Fascinating. Thought provoking. Challenging. I will remember him and his challenge to us all for a long time.”

“Fabulous presenter, terrific command of material. Excellent engagement with participants, expecting us to read, giving us credit for figuring out the conclusion. A powerful message!

“Top notch. No wonder he is such a world renowned figure. Just great.”

“Astonishing. Superb lecturing. Amazingly special and personally very helpful. Makes it all worthwhile.”

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Books by John Kotter:

Buy-In: Saving Your Good Idea from Getting Shot Down

You′ve got a good idea. You know it could make a crucial difference for you, your organization, your community. You present it to the group, but get confounding questions, inane comments, and verbal bullets in return. Before you know what′s happened, your idea is dead, shot down. You′re furious. Everyone has lost: Those who would have benefited from your proposal. You. Your company. Perhaps even the country.

It doesn′t have to be this way, maintain John Kotter and Lorne Whitehead. In Buy-In, they reveal how to win the support your idea needs to deliver valuable results. The key? Understand the generic attack strategies that naysayers and obfuscators deploy time and time again. Then engage these adversaries with tactics tailored to each strategy. By “inviting in the lions” to critique your idea–and being prepared for them–you′ll capture busy people′s attention, help them grasp your proposal′s value, and secure their commitment to implementing the solution.

The book presents a fresh and amusing fictional narrative showing attack strategies in action. It then provides several specific counterstrategies for each basic category the authors have defined–including:

  • Death-by-delay: Your enemies push discussion of your idea so far into the future it′s forgotten.
  • Confusion: They present so much data that confidence in your proposal dies.
  • Fearmongering: Critics catalyze irrational anxieties about your idea.
  • Character assassination: They slam your reputation and credibility.

    Smart, practical, and filled with useful advice, Buy-In equips you to anticipate and combat attacks–so your good idea makes it through to make a positive change.

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    A Sense of Urgency

    True urgency is a gut-level determination to move and win, now.
    It’s practitioners are unusually alert. They come to work each day determined to achieve something important, and they shed irrelevant activities to move faster and smarter. Those with a sense of urgency are the opposite of complacent—but they are not stressed-out and anxious, generating great activity without much productivity. Instead, they move boldly toward the future—sharply on the lookout for the hazards and the opportunities that change brings.

    Bestselling author and business guru John Kotter knows about urgency. “Raising urgency” is the first step in his enormously successful eight-step framework, first articulated in Leading Change. But as Kotter illustrates, increasing urgency is the toughest of the eight steps, and the one without which even the most brilliant, high-powered initiatives will sputter and die. More importantly, as we transition to a world where change is continuous—not just episodic—he shows how urgency must become a core, sustained capability.

    With vivid and powerful stories, Kotter reveals a distinctive view of the kind of urgency needed in every organization. He also highlights the insidious nature of its nemesis, complacency, in all its guises. He explains the crucial difference between constructive true urgency, and the frantic wheelspinning that is so often mistaken for urgency. He provides key tactics for increasing urgency, as well as exposing and rooting out complacency, with chapters on:

  • Bringing the outside in
  • Behaving with urgency every day
  • Finding opportunity in crises
  • Dealing with “NoNos” or naysayers

    A Sense of Urgency is a powerful tool for anyone wanting to win in a turbulent world that will only continue to move faster.

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    Our Iceberg Is Melting: Changing and Succeeding Under Any Conditions

    Most of the denizens of the Antarctic penguin colony sneer at Fred, the quiet but observant scout who detects worrying signs that their home, an iceberg, is melting. Fred must cleverly convince and enlist key players, such as Louis, the head penguin; Alice, the number two bird; the intractable NoNo the weather expert; and a passle of school-age penguins if he is to save the colony.

    Their delightfully told journey illuminates in an unforgettable way how to manage the necessary change that surrounds us all. Simple explanatory material following the fable enhances the lasting value of these lessons.

    Our Iceberg Is Melting is at once charming, accessible and profound; a treat for virtually any reader.

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