Summary of That’s Not How We Do It Here!

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John Kotter and co-author Holger Rathgeber – who also collaborated on the bestseller Our Iceberg Is Melting – masterfully employ a fable in this charming little book. As they did with the penguins in Iceberg, the authors base their story around a group of meerkats – small, furry, cute carnivores living in Africa. The fable shows why organizations should employ a “dual system” of management and leadership to inspire and energize employees and meet new challenges. getAbstract recommends this engaging tale to entrepreneurs and managers dealing with change.

About the Authors

John Kotter is a Harvard Business School leadership professor emeritus. Holger Rathgeber is a former executive with a global medical products corporation and a principal at Kotter International. Together they wrote Our Iceberg Is Melting. Kotter also wrote Leading Change, Accelerate, A Sense of Urgency and, with Dan S. Cohen, The Heart of Change.




Mature organizations can get stuck in their ways. During normal times, their proven practices and procedures work well. But when unsettling change arrives, an organization’s standardized policies can undermine its viability. Such firms often suffer from a moribund management system that shackles them to out-of-date structures.

They need both inspiring leaders who are open to new ideas and sensible managers to keep the company functioning. Consider a group of lovable little meerkats in Africa whose group practices slowly crippled their clan, and observe how they fixed this problem. Their experience holds useful implications for organizations that rely too much on conventional management and lack leadership.


Meerkats (“Kats”) are small, fuzzy, cute carnivores that live in groups in the Kalahari Desert in southern Africa. They eat eggs, worms, scorpions, insects and fruit. One large clan of Meerkats thrived for many years in its own area of the Kalahari. The band developed comprehensive procedures – reliable management practices – to deal with commonplace challenges.

These well-developed routines served the clan well...

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