John Kotter

John Paul Kotter is the Konosuke Matsushita Professor of Leadership, Emeritus, at the Harvard Business School,[1] an author,[2] and the founder of Kotter International, a management consulting firm based in Seattle and Boston.[3] He is a thought leader in business, leadership, and change.[4]


In 2008, he co-founded Kotter International with two others, where he currently serves as Chairman.[5] The business consultancy firm applies Kotter’s research on leadership, strategy execution, transformation, and any form of large-scale change.

Since early in his career, Kotter has received numerous awards for his thought leadership in his field from Harvard Business ReviewBloomberg BusinessWeek,[6] Thinkers50,[4] Global Gurus[7] and others.

Personal life

Kotter lives in Boston, Massachusetts with his wife, Nancy Dearman. They have two children.[3]

Written work

Kotter is the author of 21 books, as listed below. 12 of these have been business bestsellers and two of which are overall New York Times bestsellers.[5]

  • Kotter, John P. (1974). Mayors In Action. John Wiley & Sons Inc. ISBN 047150540-4.
  • Kotter, John P. (1991) [1978]. Self Assessment & Career Development. Prentice Hall. ISBN 0138031487.
  • Kotter, John P. (1979). Power in Management. Amacom Books. ISBN 0814455077.
  • Kotter, John P. (1979). Organization – Texts, Cases, and Readings on the Management of Organizational Design and Change. R. D. Irwin. ISBN 0256022267.
  • Kotter, John P. (1986). The General Managers. Free Press. ISBN 0029182301.
  • Kotter, John P. (2008) [1985]. Power and Influence. Free Press. ISBN 978-1439146798.
  • Kotter, John P. (1988). The Leadership Factor. Free Press. ISBN 0029183316.
  • Kotter, John P. (1990). A Force for Change. Free Press. ISBN 0029184657.
  • Kotter, John P. (2011) [1992]. Corporate Culture and Performance. Free Press. ISBN 978-1451655322.
  • Kotter, John P. (1995). The New Rules. Free Press. ISBN 0029175860.
  • Kotter, John P. (1996). Leading Change. Harvard Business School Press. ISBN 978-0-87584-747-4.
  • Kotter, John P. (1997). Matsushita Leadership: Lessons from the 20th Century’s Most Remarkable Entrepreneur. New York: The Free Press. ISBN 9780684834603. OCLC 35620432.
  • Kotter, John P. (1999). John P. Kotter on What Leaders Really Do.
  • Kotter, John P. (2002). The Heart of Change.
  • Kotter, John P. (2006). Our Iceberg is Melting.
  • Kotter, John P. (2008). A Sense of Urgency. United States: Harvard Business School Publishing. ISBN 978-1-4221-7971-0.
  • Kotter, John P. (2008). Managing Your Boss. ISBN 9781422122884.
  • Kotter, John P. (2010). Buy In. ISBN 9781422157299.
  • Kotter, John P. (2014). Accelerate: Building Strategic Agility for a Faster-Moving World. p. 224. ISBN 978-1625271747.
  • Kotter, John P. (2016). That’s Not How We Do It Here!: A Story about How Organizations Rise and Fall–and Can Rise Again. p. 176. ISBN 978-0399563942.
  • Kotter, John P. (2021). CHANGE: How Organizations Achieve Hard-to-Imagine Results Despite Uncertain and Volatile Times. p. 240. ISBN 978-1119815846.

Successful change

In Leading Change (1996), and subsequently in The Heart of Change (2002), Kotter describes an eight stage model of successful change in which he seeks to support managers to lead change and to understand how people accept, engage with and maintain successful organisational change. The eight stages or steps include the creation of “a sense of urgency” and the use of “short-term wins”.[8]

Short-term wins, within a 6–18 month window, are considered necessary because “[an] organization has to realize some benefits from [a] change effort to maintain stakeholder commitment”.[9] Kotter asserts that to be useful or influential, short-term wins need to be “visible and unambiguous” as well as “closely related to the change effort”.[10]: 121–2  Arguing against a belief that there is a “trade-off” between wins in the short-term and wins in the long-term, Kotter argues from experience that both are achievable.

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