That’s Not How We Do It Here!

A Story about How Organizations Rise and Fall--and Can Rise Again

Publisher: Portfolio

 What’s the worst thing you can hear when you have a good idea at work?
“That’s not how we do it here!”

In their iconic bestseller Our Iceberg Is Melting, John Kotter and Holger Rathgeber used a simple fable about penguins to explain the process of lead­ing people through major changes. Now, ten years later, they’re back with another must-read story that will help any team or organization cope with their biggest challenges and turn them into exciting opportunities.
Once upon a time a clan of meerkats lived in the Kalahari, a region in southern Africa. After years of steady growth, a drought has sharply reduced the clan’s resources, and deadly vulture attacks have increased. As things keep getting worse, the har­mony of the clan is shattered. The executive team quarrels about possible solutions, and sugges­tions from frontline workers face a soul-crushing response: “That’s not how we do it here!”
So Nadia, a bright and adventurous meerkat, hits the road in search of new ideas to help her trou­bled clan. She discovers a much smaller group that operates very differently, with much more teamwork and agility. These meerkats have developed innova­tive solutions to find food and evade the vultures. But not everything in this small clan is as perfect as it seems at first.
Can Nadia figure out how to combine the best of both worlds—a large, disciplined, well-managed clan and a small, informal, inspiring clan—before it’s too late?
This book distills Kotter’s decades of experi­ence and award-winning research to reveal why organizations rise and fall, and how they can rise again in the face of adversity.


The vultures had mysteriously turned from scavengers to killers. No one knew why. These awful, scary, deadly creatures were probably the final blow that was leading to the collapse of Matt’s clan.

Matt was a Meerkat—those smallish African animals that humans seem to find cute and interesting. Matt,...

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 “This unique parable shows us how we’re safer in changing times when we innovate!”
Spencer Johnson, MD, author of Who Moved My Cheese?

“This simple parable of furry mammals facing the challenge of adapting to threat offers real insights into the journey so many of us make. Brilliant!”
General Stanley McChrystal (Ret.), author of Team of Teams and cofounder of the McChrystal Group

“It works. And not just for meerkats.”
Gaëtan Thomas, NB Power president and CEO

"John Kotter does it again. His use of metaphor helps readers distill down to the fundamental requirements for a high-performing organization: tapping the hearts and minds of team members in service to a compelling purpose. Leadership enables this, and in doing so unlocks tremendous creativity and potential."
Leigh Morgan, COO, Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation

"Kotter and Rathgeber's ability to impart clear lessons via fable is as strong as ever.” 
TD Magazine