Stories bring a model to life, says Liz Hedgecock

Once you get past the slightly cute title and the four pages of heartfelt testimonials, The Heart of Change is a good read. It is marketed as a follow-up to Kotter’s bestseller Leading Change, and initially I was concerned that it might not make sense without the context of the first book.

However, the book stands very well on its own. Kotter presents an eight-step model for implementing and embedding large-scale change. Each step has its own chapter, and each chapter ends with a checklist of dos and don’ts. It all feels very reassuring, methodical and user-friendly.

The selling point of the book for me is that the eight-step formula is illustrated with a range of stories. The book was produced as a joint venture with Deloitte Consulting, and more than 200 people were interviewed to collect change narratives; 34 are dotted throughout the text to exemplify points. The stories are from diverse settings, and describe change failures as well as successes.

This approach embodies the main message of the book: “People change what they do less because they are given analysis that shifts their thinking than because they are shown a truth that influences their feelings.”

Kotter contrasts his preferred see-feel-change method with the more corporate and orthodox analysis-think-change model and he has the stories to back it up.

I recommend The Heart of Change as a well-structured easy read. Though it sometimes feels a little soft-focus and unchallenging, the book is likely to – very nicely and very gently – change your approach to change.

Liz Hedgecock is a workforce improvement manager for NHS North West.