John Kotter is the Chief Innovation Officer at Kotter International and the author of 15 books about management and change in business. His bestseller "Leading Change," outlined an actionable, 8-step process for implementing successful transformations. In 2001, BusinessWeek magazine rated Kotter the #1 "leadership guru" in America.
Question: Should change in business be incremental or sudden?
John Kotter: Change comes in all forms right now. It comes in little pieces, big pieces, continuous – there’s a lot of that. The big pieces, which is what I know most about, tend to be still episodic. One hits you then another hits you. Although the direction we’re going right now is not only lots of small, but more frequent big changes. And that’s the direction the future is going to be.
Question: Is the rate of change in business increasing?
John Kotter: The rate of change, very clearly is going up, has been for some time. All kinds of statistics will show that. I think the two biggest drivers are technological change and globalization. They produce lots of sub drivers, like competition in industries and the like, and those two are not going to go away. Globalization is going to bring us closer and closer together across nations and technology you can’t stop. So, the amount of change is going to, I think and the rate is just gong to go up and up and up for I don’t know how long.
Question: What is the difference between change and innovation?
John Kotter: Innovation is kind of a sub-piece of change. It’s very difficult to innovate without requiring people to do something different. And whenever you require people to do something different, you’re talking about change. So there are lots of other kinds of change, but innovation is a particularly interesting one right now, especially when you need new ideas, and new ways of doing things to be able to compete, prosper, etc.
Recorded July 26, 2010
Interviewed by Max Miller