Kotter’s 8 Step Change Management Model

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Welcome to this session on Kotter’s eight step change management process.

John Kotter is one of the biggest change management gurus out there. He has come up with an eight step model that can help us to embed change effectively in an organization.

Let’s look at each step:

The first one is to create urgency: what he’s saying is that managers and leaders must create a compelling case for change. They must make people understand why the change is necessary and they must inspire people to move from the current state to a future State.

Secondly, he talks about forming a powerful coalition with big change management programs. It is not enough that you, as a project manager or change manager, does all the work and does all the communication.

You need a team, a coalition of people who can help you do that. So you need to identify key people within the organization who can act as change leaders or change champions to help embed it into the organization.

Thirdly, he talks about creating a vision for change. The vision must be short, clear, understandable and preferably have an emotional element to it and a creative element, because we want the vision to be easily understood by the people who are affected by the change.

Change can be emotional, hence we want to communicate in that way. We want the vision to be relevant to the people who hear it.

Next, we need to communicate the vision. Of course, it’s, not enough to have a vision if we are not using it.

That means that you must embed the vision into everything you do on your project, be it written communication or verbal communication, but even more than that, you must showcase the vision, walk the talk, demonstrate the vision, be the change you want to see.

The next step is to remove obstacles. As you get into the thick of change into really the body of the work, you will find that there may be physical obstacles or emotional obstacles. This is where the change team meets step in and help people overcome those obstacles.

They must listen to people’s fears or concerns and seek feedback, create feedback loops so that we can understand what is working well, what is not working so well? How can we improve and overcome the obstacles?

The sixth step in Kotter’s model is to create short-term wins.

There is nothing as powerful when you implement change, than demonstrating the benefits early on. Don’t take two years to create a program and only deliver benefits then. Chop your change project up into sizable pieces, for instance, different phases, and at the end of each phase you demonstrate tangible benefits.

We also talk about it as low-hanging, fruit or quick wins. You want to win people over early on by demonstrating what’s in it for them.

The seventh step is to build on the change. Don’t, let up too soon.

You need to keep repeating the above steps for quite a while for it to be embedded. That means that you must keep communicating the vision, removing obstacles and keep delivering benefits.

Lastly, anchor the change.

You must make sure that the change sticks. That means that you must embed it into organizational procedures, operating models and into people’s day-to-day work.