John Kotter believes in teaching through fables. His 2006 book "Our Iceberg is Melting" tells the story of a group of Antarctic penguins facing the crisis of the impending destruction of their iceberg home. A young penguin named Fred discovered large cracks below the water's surface and warned the leaders that water would seep into these cracks and freeze in winter, tearing the iceberg asunder. When he raised an alarm, many of his flock ignored him or minimized the risks he presented. Some resisted any action that would result in changing their habits.

Eventually, the others accepted Fred's warnings and began to take action. It did not happen accidentally. Fred convinced some of his neighbors of the dangers and got them to act. Eventually, the colony searched for, found, and moved to a new, safer home.

This fable serves as a metaphor for organizations facing the need to make changes to address risk. After telling the fable, Kotter spends a few pages summarizing the lessons learned by the penguins.

Kotter recommends the following:

  • Recognize the urgency of the situation
  • Organize a team to deal with the situation
  • Develop a strategy
  • Communicate. Get others to buy in
  • Empower others to act
  • Create short-term goals and successes
  • Create a new culture

The fable helps the reader remember Kotter's advice about dealing with change. He simplifies the story to make it easier to remember.

This book may have a political message since global warming initiated the iceberg crisis, which many in Fred's colony denied - a problem that scientists confront today with climate deniers. However, the primary message is a lesson on how to deal with any crisis.