John Kotter biography and books

John P. Kotter - toolshero

John Kotter (John Paul Kotter, 1947) is an American Emeritus Professor in organizational science and change management at Harvard University. John Kotter is known for being the founder of 8 step process for leading change and the Six change approaches model. His company is called Kotter International.

John Kotter biography

John Kotter received his Bachelor’s degree (BSc.) from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). He obtained his Master of Science degree from the MIT Sloan School of Management in 1970. Two years later he obtained a doctorate in business administration (DBA) from Harvard University.

John became a professor at Harvard Business School at the age of 33.

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In October 2001, Business Week ranked professor Kotter as the no.1 Leadership Guru, based on a survey they conducted of 504 companies.

His article Leading Change (1995) still is a leading article in the discipline of management and change management. Eight factors leading to succesful implementation of change are described in this paper, including short term wins. John Kotter lives in Boston, Massachusetts with his wife Nancy Dearman. The couple has two children.

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Famous quotes

  1. “Leaders establish the vision for the future and set the strategy for getting there.”
  2. “Because management deals mostly with the status quo and leadership deals mostly with change, in the next century we are going to have to try to become much more skilled at creating leaders.”
  3. “A higher rate of urgency does not imply ever-present panic, anxiety, or fear. It means a state in which complacency is virtually absent.”
  4. “Great leaders understand that historical success tends to produce stable and inwardly focused organizations, and these outfits, in turn, reinforce a feeling of contentment with the status quo.”
  5. “Tradition is a very powerful force.”
  6. “We are always creating new tools and techniques to help people, but the fundamental framework is remarkably resilient, which means it must have something to do with the nature of organizations or human nature.”
  7. “Managers are trained to make incremental, programmatic improvements. They aren’t trained to lead large-scale change.”
  8. “The rate of change is not going to slow down any time soon. If anything, competition in most industries will probably speed up even more in the next few decades.”
  9. “Transformation is a process, not an event.”
  10. “Management makes a system work. It helps you do what you know how to do. Leadership builds systems or transforms old ones.”
  11. “Nothing undermines change more than behavior by important individuals that is inconsistent with the verbal communication.”

Books and publications by John Kotter

  • 2019. Accelerate. Elex Media Komputindo.
  • 2018. HBR’s 10 Must Reads on Leadership for Healthcare. Harvard Business Press.
  • 2016. That’s Not How We Do it Here: A Story about How Organizations Rise and Fall — and Can Rise Again. Portfolio Penguin.
  • 2014. Accelerate: Building Strategic Agility for a Faster-Moving World. Harvard Business Review Press.
  • 2012, 1996. Leading change. Harvard Business Press.
  • 2011, 1992. Corporate Culture and Performance. Simon & Schuster.
  • 2010. Buy-In: Saving Your Good Idea from Getting Shot Down. Harvard Business Review Press.
  • 2009. Leading change: why transformation efforts fail. Journal: IEEE Engineering Management Review , vol. 37, no. 3, pp. 42-48.
  • 2008. Managing Your Boss. Harvard Business Review Press.
  • 2008. Developing a change-friendly culture. Journal: Leader To Leader , vol. 2008, no. 48, pp. 33-38.
  • 2008. A Sense of Urgency. Harvard Business Press.
  • 2006. Our Iceberg Is Melting. St. Martin’s Press.
  • 2004. The heart of change: Real-life stories of how people change their organizations. Journal: New Directions for Philanthropic Fundraising , vol. 43, no. 7, pp. 45-46.
  • 2003. Creative ways to empower action to change the organization: Cases in point. Journal of Organizational Excellence , vol. 22, no. 2, pp. 101-101.
  • 2002. The Heart of Change: Real-life Stories of how People Change Their Organizations. Harvard Business Press.
  • 1999. What Leaders Really Do.
  • 1998. Winning at change.
  • 1997. Leading change: A conversation with John P. Kotter. Journal: Strategy & Leadership , vol. 25, no. 1, pp. 18-23.
  • 1997. Matsushita Leadership: Lessons from the 20th Century’s Most Remarkable Entrepreneur. New York: Free Press.
  • 1990. A Force for Change: How Leadership Differs from Management. Simon & Schuster.
  • 1988. Strategic determinants of managerial labor markets: A career systems view.  Journal: Human Resource Management – HUM RESOUR MANAGE , vol. 27, no. 4, pp. 369-388.
  • 1986. The General Managers. Simon & Schuster.
  • 1985. Power and Influence. Free Press.
  • 1979. Organization – Texts, Cases, and Readings on the Management of Organizational Design and Change. R. D. Irwin.
  • 1979. Power in Management. Amacom Books.
  • 1978. Self Assessment & Career Development. Prentice Hall.
  • 1974. Mayors In Action. John Wiley & Sons Inc.

How to cite this article:
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Published on: 01/15/2011 | Last update: 03/28/2023

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Vincent van Vliet
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Vincent van Vliet

Vincent van Vliet is co-founder and responsible for the content and release management. Together with the team Vincent sets the strategy and manages the content planning, go-to-market, customer experience and corporate development aspects of the company.


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