Successful Change Management — Kotter’s 8-Step Change
In 1996 John Kotter wrote Leading Change* which looked at what people did to transform their organisations. Kotter introduced an 8-step change model for helping managers deal with transformational change. This is summarised in Kotter’s 8-step change model.
For The Heart of Change* (2002) John Kotter worked with Dan Cohen to look into the core problems people face when leading change. They concluded that the central issue was changing the behaviour of people and that successful change occurs when speaking to people’s feelings.
In this article Martin Webster explains how Kotter’s 8-step change model gets to the heart of how successful ...view middle of the document...
The first three are all about creating aclimate for change. The next on engaging and enabling the organisation. And the last, implementing and sustaining change.
From experience we learn that successful change occurs when there is commitment, a sense of urgency or momentum, stakeholder engagement, openness, clear vision, good and clear communication, strong leadership, and a well executed plan. Kotter’s 8-step change model recognises each of these characteristics.
Kotter’s 8-Step Change Model for Leading Change
We highly recommend you read The Heart of Change* John Kotter and Dan Cohen. Whether you are a senior executive, in middle management or part of a project team the research, which is backed up with stories — mini case studies — and exercises, is invaluable.
The reading provides straightforward advice that makes much sense — undoubtedly you will have observed what is written.
Creating a Climate for Change
Many initiatives fail or at best fall short of their original aim because the organisation either lacks interest in the proposed change effort or spends too much energy resisting the change management process.
Kotter’s 8-step change model
We often see organisational change beginning with detailed analyses, the preparation of a hefty business case, and later approval by corporate management. Unfortunately this energy is often wasted and does very little to move the organisation toward transformational change.
The assumption is that information and analysis followed by executive management approval is enough to change behaviour. It is not! Whilst these may be necessary organisational steps they are not needed … right now.
Getting the bosses’ approval and presenting new ideas to disinterested business units rarely secures agreement and inevitably results in resistance.
For instance, complacency, immobilisation, self-protection, deviance, pessimism, and holding back. The change effort doesn’t start well.
Urgency sustains change
Rather than shoving a project down the throats of operational managers change leaders need to generate a sense of urgency about the task in-hand and get the right team together to deliver transformational change. Change comes about because there is some underlying crisis: customers are unhappy, costs are rising, budgets are cut, competitors have the advantage and so on.
Analysis has the effect of putting the brakes on. Yet crisis has to be dealt with. Sorting out a problem provides the platform to get people talking about what needs to change.
The Heart of Change suggests that we need to break from tradition and start using compelling, eye-catching situations to see problems and solutions. Honest facts and dramatic evidence — customer and stakeholder testimonies — show that change is necessary. Seeing something new hits people on a deeper emotional level without the usual negative responses and resistance.
Building the Guiding Team
Creating a sense of urgency helps to bring...