James Collin, Associate Director at Cobalt reviews “Our Iceberg Is Melting: Changing and Succeeding Under Any Conditions”. The book that forces us to ask questions about our business climate, environment and the state of our own iceberg.
The other day, I read a book called “Our Iceberg is Melting”, a business management book revolving around the story of a colony of penguins in the Antarctic who discover that the iceberg on which they have always lived is melting and through a process called freeze-thaw action will explode and fall into the sea in winter. The penguins are faced with a situation of “change or die”.
From a business perspective many commentators, including Rathgerber & Kotter in previous books, talk about the fundamental need for 21st Century businesses not only to accept but to embrace change. “Our Iceberg is Melting” follows a group of penguins that not only understand that they need to change from their current iceberg to a new one. But that they live in a world in which the need to change is constant and that they will continuously need to look for new icebergs in an ever-changing environment. Simply changing once out of necessity and laying down traditional roots would achieve nothing, as the likelihood is they will need to look for a new iceberg and the process of change would start again.
The book starts by talking about the process of change. Fred an inquisitive penguin discovers that the iceberg is melting and goes about the process of convincing the other penguins there is a problem and that moving to a new iceberg is therefore necessary. The colony of penguins, much like many businesses, corporations or simply large groups of people are naturally quite worried and in turn quite resistant to change.
The first step in the process after recognizing the need to change is for the penguins to create a project team to identify a solution and perhaps more importantly convince the other penguins that despite the dangers of moving to another iceberg in shark and killer whale invested waters, it is both necessary and beneficial.
The creation of a strong group of penguins is essential to the success of their project and I think we see this in the recruitment of project teams for our corporate clients today. There is an analytical type, a practical doer, a subject expert, a people based communicator and a strategic and strong leader. Between them they have the skills to innovate, architect and implement a solution.
However, perhaps the biggest problem the penguins face is not finding another iceberg on which to live. It is convincing the rest of the penguins of the necessity to change and bringing the penguins together to work as a group without which they would not have been able to succeed despite the efforts of some of the more senior, bolder or innovative penguins. This often requires breaking from tradition, going outside of one’s comfort zone and being open minded.
This is a story that has a happy ending. The penguins pull together, young and old. They find a new iceberg, the project is a success and the penguins relocate. Furthermore, the penguins embrace the fact that this is the future and continue to search the waters for other icebergs, never resting on their laurels again, instead taking great pride and enjoyment in their new found way of life that bases it’s tradition on the ability to innovate and change to become masters of their own environment!
“Our Iceberg is Melting” forces us to ask questions about our own business climate, environment and the state of our own iceberg. More importantly for me, it asks the question of: ‘what kind of business are you?’ Are you a business too stuck in tradition in an ever-changing world? Like the penguin called No-No who exclaims “this is how we have always done things, why should we change?”
Or are you a business that is constantly looking for new and innovative ways to improve and change, not only out of necessity but actually as the way to run a successful business as a modus operandi or in the case of our penguins a way of life?
Review written by James Collin, Associate Director – Dubai
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