Kotter's 8 Steps to Change
Leadership is about setting a direction. It's about creating a vision, empowering and inspiring people to want to achieve the vision, and enabling them to do so with energy and speed through an effective strategy. In its most basic sense, leadership is about mobilizing a group of people to jump into a better future. ~ Kotter
For many John Kotter, a Professor of Leadership, Emeritus, at the Harvard Business School, is the father of change management models and the need for a specific focus on change from organizational leaders. In his seminal work, Leading Change, outlined the reasons for change failure and outlined a framework, Kotter’s Eights Steps, for effective organizational change.
- allowing too much complexity
- failing to build a substantial coalition
- not understanding the need for a clear vision
- failing to clearly communicate the vision
- permitting roadblocks against the vision
- not planning and getting short-term wins
- declaring victory too soon
- not anchoring changes in corporate culture
To prevent making these mistakes, Kotter created the eight change phases model:
(1) Establish a sense of urgency – organizations and their employees are often complacent and do not take the need for change seriously. To overcome this inertia, examine the market and competitive realities, identify and discuss crises, potential crises or major opportunities – highlight the consequences of maintaining the status quo.
(2) Create a coalition – putting together a group that supports the need for change and with enough power and organizational clout to lead the change and make things happen, getting the group together to work as part of a team
(3) Develop a clear vision – creating a vision to help direct the change effort by presenting a picture of what the organization will look like after the change, developing strategies to achieve that vision. The goal of this step is to obtain stakeholder buy-in, so it is often useful to obtain their participation in articulating the vision.
(4) Share the vision – using every vehicle possible to constantly communicate the new vision and strategies, having the guiding coalition (Change Leaders) role model the behavior expected of employees
(5) Empower people to clear obstacles – management should remove barriers that impede the change – provide resources and authority to make the change happen, change systems or structures that undermine the change vision, encourage risk-taking and non-traditional ideas, activities or actions
(6) Create and secure short-term wins – breaking up the desired change into smaller steps to create a feeling of progress, planning for visible improvements in performance (or “wins”), visibly recognizing people, leaders and/or managers who made wins possible
(7) Consolidate and keep moving – using increased credibility form the early “wins” to change all systems, structures, and policies that do not fit together and don’t fit the transformation vision; hiring, promoting and developing people who can implement the change vision, reinvigorating the process with new projects, themes and change agents
(8) Anchor the change – creating a better performance through customer and productivity-oriented behavior, more and better leadership, and more effective management; articulating the connections between new behaviors and organizational success; developing means to ensure leadership development and succession. The idea is to have new practices to replace the old culture. This final step takes time and comes last in the change process.
According to Kotter, it is crucial to follow the eight phases of change in the exact sequence.