Leadership Icon Visits PSNS & IMF

Leadership Icon Visits Puget Sound Naval Shipyard & IMF
By PSNS & IMF Public Affairs

When speaking with PSNS & IMF's Guiding Coalition Committee and honored guest John Kotter, Harvard Business School professor, Captain Whitney, Commander, PSNS & IMF, stated, "We are catching the edge where words and actions are aligned. That's making a difference, to me."

BREMERTON, WA—Why would an internationally recognized expert on leadership and change ask to visit the U. S. Navy’s shipyard in Bremerton, Wash.?

John Kotter, Harvard Business School professor and best-selling author of Leading Change, visited the Puget Sound Naval Shipyard and Intermediate Maintenance Facility March 19, 2010, to see for himself the success the Command has had with his eight-step Leading Change model.

Kotter’s eight-step model describes how organizations can gain the ability to change their culture for continued success. It is a roadmap that has helped people talk about transformation and change.

According to Kotter, his model shows that

“a strong Guiding Coalition [committee] is always needed—one with the right composition, level of trust and shared objective. Building such a team is always an essential part of the early stages of any effort to restructure.”

In the last four years, PSNS & IMF’s Guiding Coalition Committee has formed a Command University through expanded investments in training; created a Diversity Council; and improved the Command’s cafeterias, facilities, communications and more. These successes have reverberated throughout PSNS & IMF.

“You guys are really making some headway; don’t let up,” Kotter said. “It’s easy to see some wins and say, ‘Hooray, we did that,’ and then let up. If anything, you need to put your foot down a little more on the accelerator.”

Dennis Goin, a national facilitator of guiding coalitions who has worked with Kotter, believes that PSNS & IMF is an example of how the Leading Change model should work.

“If you’ve ever wanted your strategic planning book put together with your strategic plan in place, then this is the model to use,” Goin said. “The book stays open; the initiatives are constantly being worked; you are constantly touching them.”

Taking the Leading Change eight-steps developed by Kotter—and blending a mixture of positional power, expertise, credibility and leadership—the PSNS & IMF Guiding Coalition has become more than a committee; it is an engine for change.

“For someone who roams around the world and has seen hundreds of companies, universities and the government, there are some things going on [at PSNS & IMF] that are on the leading edge,” Kotter said.  “If you don’t know about them, you’ve got to figure it out; find it. And if you have been involved, you can pat yourself on the back.”

John Kotter, Harvard Business School professor, visited PSNS & IMF on March 19 for a series of discussions. Kotter shared during his visit, "You've got a lot of terrific talent out there."

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My “Leading Change” Story

Tomorrow Professor John Kotter visits my workplace, to see how successful we’ve become at using his model to create real, lasting change.  (link to the press release) Today I found Rogue Polymath’s post about what reading Leading Change did for him, and his post prompted me to write “My Leading Change Story.”

I can’t remember how I found the book (and that’s odd because I can usually tell you exactly how I found each book on my shelf) but I first read Leading Change in 2005.

I had just entered a newly created position as the Theory of Constraints Project Engineer for a more than 700 person department.   My job: Implement Theory of Constraints principles throughout the department.  I had a huge job on my hands, lots of idealism and very little experience in change management; I needed help.

Then, somehow, I found Leading Change.  I read it, loved it and in my excitement promptly formed my own Guiding Coalition.  I recruited deputies from each area of the department to serve, I set up meeting, worked on a vision and people came to my Guiding Coalition…for a while.

My Guiding Coalition members, rightly, lost interest in spending their limited time listening to me tell them how to make my change.  I hadn’t built the sense of urgency.  I’d jumped straight to the Guiding Coalition, ignored a vision other than my own, refused to empower people and never captured a single win for them.  I had tried to drive people and driving people never works for long.  I learned that lesson hard.

My first attempt at Leading Change was such a huge failure I should say it again:

My first attempt at Leading Change was a huge failure.

Why did I fail? I hadn’t followed the model.  I hadn’t built a sense of urgency.  I didn’t yet understand how to make it work (i.e., the difference between driving people and driving change).

In 2007, on my second try at Leading Change, I had the opportunity to work with the newly formed command Guiding Coalition.  In that group I found people who’d brought their own sense of urgency with them to every meeting.  They’d applies to be there and were grateful for the opportunity to lead change.

What a difference their inner energy made!

They were coming to the Guiding Coalition not because they “had to” but because they “got to.”  They were focused and ready to drive change, and they immediately started to make a difference.

In my years with our Guiding Coalition, I’ve had the privilege to learn:

  • what it looks like when you’ve created a compelling vision and communicated that vision well
  • what if feels like to empower others to take action and then capture, celebrate and consolidate their wins
  • and what is means to everyone involved and everyone affected when you embed the successes in the culture.

Everyone who’s been a part of our Leading Change journey should be very proud of what they’ve accomplished.

I know I’m proud to be associated with all of them.

Let’s keep driving change by Leading Change.  Who’s with me?

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