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The Liberals Managed Point One On John Kotter’s Eight Step Process Really Well!

Photo from talking

Photo from talking

My son is doing Year 12 Business Management, so I decided to have a look at what he’d be examined on at the end of the year. I saw a question about John Kotter’s theories of managing change and in that serendipitous way that things happen, I noticed a book by him the next day. The book was called, “Our Iceberg Is Melting”.

Well, I bought it, read it and wondered why it needed a fable about penguins to make the same points that he made in his slightly longer book. Perhaps he was concerned that some people don’t read books unless they have cartoons in them.

Whatever, when I read his 8 step process for change management, I couldn’t help but think of the Abbott Opposition/Government. Basically, Kotter elaborates on the following points:

  • Establishing a Sense of Urgency

  • Creating the Guiding Coalition

  • Developing a Vision and Strategy

  • Communicating the Change Vision

  • Empowering Employees for Broad-Based Action

  • Generating Short-Term Wins

  • Consolidating Gains and Producing More Change

  • Anchoring New Approaches in the Culture

I can’t help but wonder if some bright spark in the Liberal strategy bunker had read John Kotter’s theories and thought that this would be the way to successfully implement their agenda of Fightback/Workchoices.

Now, I think we can all agree that Abbott, Hockey and friends successfully managed to create a sense of urgency. The “Budget emergency” and those hysterical comparisons to Greece convinced many, many people that Labor had borrowed so much that some foreign creditor was going to snaffle all our mineral resources in exchange for our debts, and the average Australian wasn’t going to receive any benefit, which is completely different to the current situation where mining is providing hundreds of jobs to people organising 457 visas.

However, their “guiding coalition” seemed to fall at the first hurdle. It was all about having the sort of people that can encourage a collaborative effort in implenting change. They certainly failed to build and maintain a working relationship with the Senate. And it’s their failure here that makes me think that they see the 2014 Budget as being a failure of communication rather than substance. Lately, whenever the Liberals look at an election loss or an electoral backlash, they always put it in terms of not explaining themselves well enough, as though somehow the voters didn’t seem to understand what they were trying to do – in much the same way that a stalker argues that their victim didn’t understand that it was love that motivated their behaviour.

But I think it’s on the vision thing that they really had problems. Kotter argues that it’s important to establish a shared vision at this point in the process. The Liberals, on the other hand, rather than attempting to find bipartisanship as often as possible, seem to have excluded anyone who was the slightest bit critical. From the time they came to office, they’ve set about removing any public service head who was implementing the Labor Government’s policy, as well as dismissing any critics as not worth listening to, no matter how constructive the criticism or how well-credentialed the critic was. Rather than talking ideas through to establish a clear, shared vision with the rest of Australia, they’ve left it at things like: “We intend to have a stronger economy” or “We have a plan”.

As for “Empowering Employees For Broad Based Action”, apparently that’s happened a few weeks ago after Abbott agreed to be more consultative and backbenchers won the right to take toilet breaks without needing to ask Peta Credlin for permission.

Lately, they seem to have skipped straight to the “Generating Short-term Wins” thingy. We’ll see that when the Liberals are returned in the NSW state election, no matter how many seats they lose. Of course, we’ll be treated to now we’re back on track and this just shows how the voters are responding to the new, improved consultative Tony Abbott. And we’ll see it in the Budget when Joe puts the sugar back on the table and says that this tax cut or or boost to childcare or whatever it is, is a direct result of the government’s fiscal discipline and we’re on track for a surplus sometime in the next decade, so it’s all ok.

As for the “Consolidating Gains and Producing More Change” and the “Anchoring new approaches into the culture”, I suspect that they’ll have to wait until after the next Federal election, which may be sometime in June or July. Or as soon as Malcolm has the numbers. Once there’s another spill mooted, Abbott’ll be off to see Sir Peter faster than his dash for the door when Craig Thomson tried to vote with the Opposition.



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  1. Phi

    “Now, I think we can all agree that Abbott, Hockey and friends successfully managed to create a sense of urgency.”

    NO – great big NO – ‘we’ cannot agree on this point. On what basis do you make the call “..we can all agree….” ?

    But, yes, I get your drift overall and appreciate your perspicacity.

  2. Rossleigh

    I don’t agree that there was an “emergency”, I’m just suggesting that they were successful in creating a “sense of urgency” with a large number of the population.

  3. CMMC

    ‘Business Management’ at university level always seems to me to be a way of formalising all those ‘How to Get Rich, Quick’ paperbacks into the dismal science of economics.

  4. Annie B

    @ Phi ….

    I think if you / I were to delete just ONE letter in that comment, it would read absolutely correctly :

    ““Now, I think we can all agree that Abbott, Hockey and friends successfully managed to create a sense of urgency.”

    Try ‘successfully manage” … not ‘managed‘.

    Because that’s what this mob does continually – they ‘manage’ hysteria, urgency, horror, fear, it’s-gotta-be-fixed’ … ‘it’s-all-Labors-fault’ … and ever onwards, ad nauseum. … It is never solely in the past tense.

    That they deliberately and continually ‘manage’ this fiasco, I think we mostly CAN agree – except for the die-hard Libs who would vote for them, even if they proved themselves collectively – the devil incarnate itself.


    @ Rossleigh

    Don’t agree with this one : “The Liberals, on the other hand, rather than attempting to find bipartisanship as often as possible, seem to have excluded anyone who was the slightest bit critical.

    I think they welcome with open arms, the seeming ‘bipartisanship’ of their Opposition … because it gives them more reasons to vindicate their ridiculous ideas – and themselves. … “See – even our opposing number agree with us – aren’t we bloody wonderful “.


    The LNP – Manipulators extraordinaire. ….. Or maybe – – – ‘ Loathsome Nefarious Pricks ‘.

  5. Harquebus

    Straight out of the propaganda handbook. Business as usual.
    After step 8, go to step 1.

  6. Dean Mayes

    The take out for me from this article was the “Empowering Employees for broad based action”.

    All I can see from the LNP rhetoric and their actions is a wilful desire to divide and conquer employees across all sorts of workforce areas; to beat them into submission so that they can control their fates.

    I am all for empowering employees so that they want to work for the betterment of their employers. If employees were valued rather than constantly scorned, they might feel they have a stake in the enterprise that they work for. But no such psychology exists in this country – at least from the politico.

  7. stuffme

    “some bright spark in the Liberal party” WTF would that be?

  8. Annie B

    @ Dean Mayes ……

    ” …… a wilful desire to divide and conquer employees across all sorts of workforce areas; to beat them into submission so that they can control their fates.”

    That is this Governments’ sole intention – in order to encourage disagreement, and thereby prevent unity in any opposition – not only for work forces, but for all Australians. .

    All part of the dumbing down process, this Government wants to make sure of.

    The perfect lead in to fascism.

  9. banistersmind

    @Annie B

    How then can we counter it?

  10. stephentardrew


    Lead in to ‘corporate’ fascism?

    I have a strong suspicion we are already there.

    The silent passing in he night

    Of the flight of human rights

    Listen to the one percent how muted they remain

    As social justice and welfare swish down the drain

  11. mars08

    “…suddenly, I was plunged into all the new activity, as the university was drawn into the new situation; meetings, conferences, interviews, ceremonies, and, above all, papers to be filled out, reports, bibliographies, lists, questionnaires. And on top of that were the demands in the community, the things in which one had to, was ‘expected to’ participate that had not been there or had not been important before. It was all rigmarole, of course, but it consumed all one’s energies, coming on top of the work one really wanted to do. You can see how easy it was, then, not to think about fundamental things. One had no time.”

    “Those,” I said, “are the words of my friend the baker. ‘One had no time to think. There was so much going on.’”

  12. Annie B

    @ banistersmind —

    You asked, I will attempt to answer ?

    Have thought about the question, written way too much about it in the way of notes, and have come to a conclusion, that we – as Australians …. must learn how to NOT allow ourselves to be afraid, particularly not allow into our minds and souls, the fear that is peddled almost daily ( and very cunningly ) by the leader of our country. …. So far he has used almost every tactic in the book … ( there IS one called “The Dictators’ Handbook – which is alleged to show ” Why Bad Behavior is Almost Always Good Politics.”. …. There are other books on the subject as well. ….. this link gives a short summary of the contents of this book, while at the same time, making some very shrewd observations.

    Giving in to fear does no single person or groups of persons, any good whatsoever. …. Americans ( I have read, observed, heard ) are the most frightened people on this earth. …. It’s sad.

    Laugh at it all, straight in the face ( a banal thought, I know ) – but it will put him / them off their game, big time. ….. if it’s done often enough and long enough.

  13. Annie B

    @ stephentardrew …

    ” Corporate fascism ” …. I think it’s been around for a long time – to varying degrees [ depending on which party in power, and the ecomonics of the time(s) ]. …. Governments can ‘ sell ‘ themselves to corporate power – and many do. … This one here does. …..

    Corporatocracy, it would appear, was alive and well and living very much in the U.S a few years back. ? …. I have no idea if this crony capitalism is still largely evident there – I have backed right off getting too interested in their politics. …. although it always ultimately has a bearing on our own.


    Was talking more about fascist ideology – and how it affects a populace. Not pretty, but as in my previous post above, we must not give in to the fear of it all. … If we do, they win the big prize – that being domination, with cruelty, repression and abject misery for the weakest and neediest in a community. ….

    I did like very much your rhyming short verse there too, stephen.

    Cheers —-

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