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The Best of CSI, Part 4

Kotter's Principle - Head to Heart
Originally Published on April 5, 2010

The other day I was researching John P. Kotter’s Eight Steps for Transforming your Organization. This approach for organizational change is discussed in Chapter 8 of the Continual Service Improvement (CSI) book. While I was exploring his website:, I came across one of his principles which discusses how to present your vision for strategic change. Communicating the corporate vision for change out to an organization is a critical success factor for the adoption of IT Service Management. I agree with Kotter’s principle that not only do you have to speak to the “Head” but you have to speak to the “Heart”. I am extremely passionate about ITSM and the benefits of CSI. The following quote from his website really spoke to me:
“People change because they are shown a truth that influences their feelings, not because they were given endless amounts of logical data. When changing behavior, both thinking and feeling are essential. Highly successful organizations know how to overcome antibodies that reject anything new. But first, a process of change must happen that uses both the head & the heart.

To change successfully, people need to be able to both think and feel positively about what they need to do. Without addressing both sides, change is less likely to occur.”
Included below is Kotter’s guideline for putting together a presentation on communicating your vision. By improving our ability to change, we will increase our chances of success, both today and in the future. Without this ability to continually improve, organizations cannot thrive.
Checklist for Speaking to the Head and Heart
  • Compelling story
  • Use of metaphors, analogies and imagery
  • Use simple language and avoid jargon and acronyms
  • Communicate with what you DO not just what you SAY
  • Frequent, consistent and aligned communication
  • Energy and enthusiasm is infused throughout
  • Careful use of data - do not overuse!
  • Do your homework to understand what people are feeling
  • Rid the channels of communication from junk so that important messages come through
  • High level of visibility
  • Bring the outside in


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