Angela C. Orlando
February 17th, 2014
The ACO Sleep-Control Plan
On a recent Sunday afternoon, a scream could be heard in the
"My iceberg is melting!"
Our subject, known only as ACO, had once again slept past
1:00 PM. She was tired from over-sleeping, frustrated at her lack
of control and frantic because she had so much to do and the day
was half over. I knew exactly how she felt, because I am her. But
since this is an anonymous change management plan, we won't
discuss that minor detail.
"I can't go on like this," she proclaimed. "I must change
This wasn't the first time ACO had uttered those words. She
had been trying for over a year to reduce the amount of time she
spent sleeping. She appealed to reason. "I don't need that much
She tried for strength. "I will just get up earlier. I can
She even applied faith, although she never really had faith
to begin with. "There must be a God, and he would not want me to
sleep so much. If I pray, He will help me change this nasty
So, it went on. Nothing ever change. ACO continue to sleep
12-plus hours per day. She knew it was a lost cause, and because
she knew it, it was a lost cause.
Would she accept defeat? Would she sleep her life away?
"no, no, no...," she said.
Dr. John Kotter is the author of Our Iceberg is Melting:
Change and Success Under Any Condition. While the book, which is
written as a fable, seems like a silly story about penguins, it
is really a guide to an eight-step change process. And while this
management plan may seem humerus at times, it is really a serious
The problem for ACO is, that despite her proclamations
otherwise, she is quite complacent with her current situation.
Although she thinks she needs to change, she lacks the will to
make it happen. Deep inside, she isn't committed to the change.
"This must stop!" Taking her cue from Alice, ACO has changed
her tune. She now recognizes with gut-wrench determination that
her behavior must be altered at once.
"I am truly sleeping my life away," she said. "What kind of
role model am I for my son? Oh, he must think I'm a lazy bum."
As her eyes begin to fill with tears, she thinks of the
future. "How will I ever succeed at grad school? At the rate I'm
going, I won't even get my application in on time. And what about
writing? I seldom compose blogs or poems anymore. I'm too busy
ACO knows she must face her greatest challenge. There is no
more time to spare. She must reduce her hours of sleep once and
for all. "It is urgent," she declared. "If I don't do this now, I
never will. my dreams will melt away just like the iceberg Fred
once called his home."
The Guiding Team
After careful analysis, it has been noted that a major
reason for ACO's failure is that she has been working alone to
change her behavior. Even as she tries to improve, she keeps the
habit of over-sleeping a closely guarded secret. In Dr. Kotter's
book, we learn that no single bird, or person, can successfully
make change happen. A team approach is needed. With the support
of a team, ACO can confront her problem and regain control of her
The ACO Sleep-Control Team was put together with the
consideration of who could best support ACO in her time of
change. They all share a common goal: love for ACO. We will
examine the team using the style set forth by the Professor.
Angela (the subject)
Advantages: Intelligent, hard-working, determined, good
writer and has some knowledge about how penguins succeeded
Disadvantage: She's the one with the problem
Joseph (the son)
Advantages: Smart, witty, cute and lives on the premises
Disadvantages: He's 12 years old and demonstrates the same
Scott (the boyfriend)
Advantages: Clever, creative, loving and handsome
Disadvantage: He lives in another state
Bast (the cat)
Advantage: Has paws and knows how to use them
Disadvantage: She's a cat!
The Change Vision
Change will only succeed if the team has a clear vision of
what the future should be like. It is this vision that will guide
the change process. The idea that ACO will limit her time spent
sleeping to six hours per night is as illogical as having the
penguins fly to a new iceberg. Penguins can't fly. ACO can't
function on only six hours of sleep.
The team considered all aspects of ACO's life in order to
develop an achievable change vision. ACO has a rare genetic
disease that causes her body to tire easily. She also takes
medication that makes her drowsy. It was therefore deemed
acceptable for her to be allowed to sleep longer than the
Change Vision: ACO will spend no more than ten hours asleep
in a 24 hour time period, including night-time sleeping and
1. ACO will move her specialized alarm clock to the other side of
the be. As a result, she will need to sit up and stretch to turn
it off. She will not be permitted back under the covers.
2. If ACO fails to get up, Joseph will shake her awake. If that
does not work, he will remove her bed covers.
3. ACO will obey the paw. If Bast pokes at her for any reason,
she will get up.
4. Scott will inquire about ACO's sleeping habits and encourage
her as needed.
5. ACO will record her progress on a magnetic board using
different shaped magnets to represent success and failure.
Communicate the Vision
It is not enough simply to create a vision. Instead, this
vision must be shared, broad-casted and repeated. The team will
do this using email, blogs and Facebook. In addition, they will
engage in open, two-way communication to make sure that everyone
understands the change vision.
"My change vision is to spend no more than ten hours asleep
in a 24 hour time period, including night-time sleeping and
day-time napping," said ACO.
"My mom will spend no more than ten hours asleep in a 24
hour time period, including night-time sleeping and day-time
napping," Joseph said.
"My girlfriend, whom I call Whippi, will spend no more than
ten hours asleep in a 24 hour time period, including night-time
sleeping and day-time napping," said Scott."
"Meow," said Bast. (Okay, so that wasn't much help.)
Even the best of change plans can falter at this important
stage. It's time to expand on broad-based actions. However,
multiple obstacles will need to be dealt with to keep the plan
Just look at our dear penguins. They were faced with real
obstacles, and those created by the nay-sayer, No-No. Louis did
not give up or give in. He and his team worked twice as hard to
find there way past barriers to keep their plan alive.
ACO faces many barriers, as well. There are physical
barriers related to her disability. The use of a specialized
alarm clock and bed shaker solves the issue of technology. As a
former teacher, ACO is fond of behavior charts. But how can such
a chart be useful for someone who is blind? It has been decided
that ACO will use the unique tactile art board that Scott
created. The board is magnetic. Each color is represent by a
different shaped magnet. The large, purple magnets will be used
to indicate each day of the week. Yellow, circular magnets will
be placed on the board for success. Medium sized, blue magnets
will show failure. With this system in place, access to a
behavior plan is no longer a barrier.
The biggest obstacle will likely be ACO's attitude. Although
she is on board with the plan, she does love to sleep and still
feels some resistant to the change. Two-way, constant dialog with
Scott will be utilized to keep ACO on track and remind her of why
this change is so vital.
Change is difficult and will not be achievable all at once.
Short-term wins must be identified and rewarded. The guiding team
has decided to begin with a goal of four successes per week. If
ACO can place four yellow circles on her behavior chart, she will
be rewarded with chocolate (raspberry Hugs, Hershey's Oreo and
white chocolate eggs and vanilla truffles.)
ACO will also be recognized for other activities she is able
to complete since she wasn't sleeping so much. For example, other
magnets will be added to her behavior chart when she exercises,
completes projects (like her grad school application) and writes
at least 100 words per day. For ACO, writing, itself, is an
Never Let Up
In the early stages, ACo will be rewarded for partial
success. As time goes on, she will be expected to achieve her
change vision every night of the week. Time off is not permitted.
The change is still in effect during Spring Break and Summer
vacation. One lazy day to sleep-in could destroy the whole plan.
ACO will follow her vision 24/7, and her team will continue to
support her throughout it all.
Buddy and his incredible team never gave up. Instead of just
finding a new iceberg to live on, they became nomadic birds. This
change was incorporated into their culture.
ACO must do the same. After months of success and years of
success, ACO will no longer feel the need or desire to sleep more
than ten hours a day. Her culture as a sleep-addict will be
altered. After much time, her vision will become her culture.
That is when official success has been achieved.
A reporter will thrust a microphone in her face and say,
"ACO, you just achieved success. What are you going to do now?"
"ACO will glance to the North and exclaim, "I'm going to
visit the penguins!"
Kotter, J. (2012) The 8-Step Process to Leading Change.
Kotter International. Retrieved February, 7, 2014, from
Kotter, J. and Rathgeber, H. (2005) Our Iceberg is Melting:
Changing and Succeeding Under Any Conditions. New York: St.
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