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John P. Kotter is an American professor at Harward Business School and also a specialist in change management as well as leadership.

Kotter, in 1995 gives 8 step change model for effective change management. Kotter’s eight-step model – showing a road map for change based on common errors made by organizations.

Kotter’s 8-Step Model for Leading change is one of the most important models made for understanding the change management system and then for more straightforward implementation of the change within the company

Whats in it-

  1. What is Kotter’s Model?
  2. Planning and Leading Organizational Change
  3. Kotter’s 8 Step Model for Leading Change
  4. Steps of Kotter’s Model
  5. Advantages of Kotter’s 8 Step Change Model
  6. Conclusion
  7. FAQs

What is Kotter’s Model?

It is one of the most important models made for understanding the change management system and then for more straightforward implementation of the change within the company

Kotter's 8 Step Model – Implementing Change Successfully

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Planning and Leading Organizational Change

Kotter’s eight-step Model- Many prescriptions have been proposed for strategic, organization-level change. But, the best known is the work of John Kotter.

Basically his ideas are based on analysis of many change efforts over 15 years, were set out in a Harvard Business Review seminal article (Kotter, 1995).

The article identified eight common errors that organizations make when trying to undertake significant changes.

This was followed by his book Leading change (2012a [1996]), in which he specifically elaborated his ‘eight-stage process.’

Each stage was an antidote to one of the errors he identified. The whole process offers a roadmap for undertaking significant organizational change, placing a strong focus on the role of effective leadership.

Moreover, in Kotter’s writing, there is an underlying assumption that, given the right process and the right leadership, change can be planned and managed.

He acknowledges at many points the ‘messiness’ of change and offers prescriptions for dealing with this. In his seventh and eighth stages, Kotter does engage with the complexity of organization systems and how one affects another.

However, he appears to see organizations and Change primarily through the machine, architecture, and political systems metaphors described above, and does not engage actively with the less deterministic metaphors.

Kotter's 8 Step Model – Implementing Change Successfully

Kotter’s 8 Step Model for Leading Change

Establishing a sense of urgency

Kotter identifies sources of complacency and ways to raise the sense of urgency. But, it is absolutely clear that this stage is not complete until ‘a majority of employees. Perhaps 75% of managers overall, and virtually all of the top executives… believe that change is absolutely essential’. This is a high bar to achieve, but Kotter sees it as essential.

Creating the Guiding Coalition

The change-leading coalition needs to be characterized by trust and a common goal. It must contain people with strong positional power, appropriate and also varied expertise, credibility across the organization, and effective leadership.

Developing a Vision and Strategy

Kotter sees vision as ‘a picture of the future with some implicit or explicit commentary on why people should strive to create that future.’

So, The vision needs to be something that people can really imagine and should offer positive outcomes for the organization’s key stakeholders. Combining both head and heart, teams create a vision, a time-consuming process.

Communicating the Change Vision

Firstly, The vision needs to communicate in clear, direct language, verbal images, and analogies. We should repeat it frequently through many channels, including opportunities for discussion and take feedback also.

Empowering Employees for Broad-Based Action

Major Change needs the willing effort of a wide range of employees, who really feel that they can make a difference.

Employees can be set free to make that difference by ensuring that the organization’s systems and structures support employee action, providing appropriate training to encourage and remove or side-lining managers who might get in the way.

Generating Short-Term Wins

Short-term wins provide a boost to the change initiative. They help minimize negativity and promote support for the change. They also provide opportunities to recognize individuals who deserve credit for contributing to the transformation thus far. Don’t just ‘hope’ for them to happen; make sure short-term wins are a significant element of the change plan.

Consolidating Gains and Producing More Change

There is always pressure to revert to the old ways. Sustaining and embedding change requires ongoing effort over a long period.

So, Kotter encourages the guiding coalition to ‘press on’ and deliver more change, increasing resources not reassigning them away from the change effort. He also emphasizes the importance of continued clear leadership and direction from the top and excellent project and program management disciplines.

Anchoring New Approaches in the Culture

It has been said that ‘culture eats strategy for breakfast’ – and it sometimes eats change as a second course! It is the nature of culture to be mostly unconscious and deeply embedded over a long period.

Furthermore, Kotter points out that even apparently successful change programs can be ‘eaten’ over the years if the organization’s culture is not aligned with them.

It is vital to identify aspects of ‘old’ culture that threaten the change and to address them through highlighting the positive outcomes of the change, through talking about the old culture, valuing it for its time, and where necessary through using changes of staff (especially visible promotions) to strengthen the new culture that is needed. For more on culture, see Section E.

Kotter's 8 Step Model – Implementing Change Successfully

Steps of Kotter’s Model

Create a Sense of Urgency

Firstly, we should examine the market and the competitive environment to identify critical points, potential crises, and significant opportunities.

After that, it is necessary to discuss the findings with all the team members, motivate employees (team members), assure them that things are moving, and answer their questions.

Build a Powerful Coalition

In the second step, the stakeholders should form groups of people who are willing to support the idea.

It should include experts, leaders, managers of the organization, and a responsible team that should be created. It can make a highly effective precondition for change implementation.

Form Strategic Visions

Firstly, it should explain the values of the change process are, a shared vision should be created, and the people who will be a part of the change management team should be inspired.

So, new strategies should develop to achieve the vision.

Enlist Volunteer Army

It is very important to keep communicating with the vision. So, It should be frequently and powerfully. The same applies to talk about change, new strategies, and visions.

Enable Action by Removing Barriers

Firstly, we remove any obstacles on the path, focus on the places where obstacles are recognizable, prepare the change system and company’s structure for a transformation process, and support non-traditional ideas, activities, and procedures.

Generate Short-Term Wins

Planning and achieving visible performance improvements are the main objectives of the sixth step of this Change Model.

So, the important thing that the company should do is to motivate people to make the change happen, value, and reward them for visible planned achievements.

Sustain Acceleration (Build on the Change)

The seventh step focuses on the acceleration of the change.

So, it includes hiring, promoting, and educating people responsible for the transformation process, point out structures, changes systems, and procedures that are not consistent with the transformation and should be changed. And renew those processes that are related to new projects, ideas, and components.

Institute Change (Anchor the Changes in Corporate Culture)

Last but not least is the eight-step orientation at the embodiment of changes in the corporate culture environment. It helps achieve better customer behaviour and thereby increases the productivity and efficiency of management and leadership.

Advantages of Kotter’s 8 Step Change Model

  1. It is a model that provides a brief description and guidance on the entire process of change management, and it is easy for implementation.
  2. Emphasis is on the involvement and acceptability of the employees for the success in the overall process.
  3. The primary emphasis is on preparing and building acceptability for a change instead of the actual change process.

Conclusion

This article briefly describes Kotter’s 8-Step model for Leading Change in a very easy way so that you can learn about all the eight common errors that organizations make when trying to undertake major changes.

In this article, I elaborated his ‘eight-stage process’. Each stage was an antidote to one of the errors he identified.

FAQs

1. What is the Kotter model?

Kotter 8-Step Model for leading change is an important model for understanding the change management system. And then for more straightforward implementation of the change within the company.

2. How do you implement Kotter’s 8 steps?

Follow this procedure to implement Kotter’s 8 steps-
1. Create a sense of urgency – in this, identify critical points, opportunities.
2. Build a powerful coalition – in this, stakeholders should form a group of people who are willing to support the idea.
3. Form strategic visions – here, it explains what the values of the change process are. A shared vision should be created.
4. Enlist volunteer army – it is very important to keep communicating the vision.
5. Enable action by removing barriers – remove any obstacles on the path, focus on the places where obstacles are recognizable.
6. Generate short-term wins – planning and achieving visible performance improvements.
7. Sustain acceleration (Build on the change) – the seventh step focuses on the change’s acceleration. It includes hiring, promoting, and educating people responsible for the transformation process.
8. Institute change – the embodiment of changes in the corporate culture environment.

3. How can businesses apply John Kotter’s 8 steps?

Kotter’s 8-Step process for leading change
1. Create urgency
2. Form a powerful coalition
3. Create a vision for change
4. Communicate the vision
5. Remove obstacles
6. Create short-term wins
7. Build on the change
8. Anchor the changes in corporate culture

4. What is the first step in Kotter’s 8 step approach?

The first step is establishing a sense of urgency.
Kotter identifies sources of complacency and also the ways to raise the sense of urgency. But it is clear to us that this stage is not complete until ‘a majority of employees.
Perhaps 75% of managers overall, and virtually all of the top executives believe that change is absolutely essential’. This is a high bar to achieve, but Kotter sees it as essential.