Kotter on Change Management

More or less a reminder to myself:

Harvard Business School professor John P. Kotter outlined an eight-stage change management process in his 1996 book, Leading Change. This framework has been embraced by many as an accurate representation of the steps needed to effect major change within an organization.

Kotter’s 8-stage Change Management Process

1. Establish a Sense of Urgency

Often employees do not take the need for change seriously enough; the organization is often very complacent. The effective change leader will educate the organization about the urgent need for change and the consequences of sticking to the status quo.

2. Create a Guiding Coalition

The change leader should assemble a group of people who support the need for change and have enough institutional clout to make change happen; the task is then to get this coalition to work together as a team.

3. Develop a Vision and Strategy

A change leader needs to present a picture (or vision) of what the organization will look like after the change and to propose strategies to move the organization to this ideal state. The goal of the vision is to get employee buy-in, so employee participation in articulating the vision is useful.

4. Communicate the Change Vision

The change leader must coordinate a communications effort that broadcasts the new vision and strategies. Management must communicate the vision of change to all relevant employees to further develop buy-in. Kotter believes that the guiding coalition should “model the behavior expected of employees.”

5. Empower Action

Management should remove barriers that impede change. Employees should know that acting in accord with the vision will be rewarded. Risk taking should be encouraged.

6. Generate Short-Term Wins

By breaking up the desired change into smaller steps, change leaders can create a feeling of progress as well as opportunities to reward employees for success. This progress should be communicated widely so it is recognized throughout the organization that change is happening.

7. Consolidate Gains and Produce More Change

Change leaders can use the increased credibility that comes with early “wins” to alter whatever in the organization doesn’t fit the vision. Recruiting and promoting those who can advance the change process (or perhaps even help lead it) is vital in continuing progress.

8. Anchor New Approaches in the Culture

Emphasizing the benefits of the change effort, and linking it to organizational success, is one way to help anchor the new approach. The idea is to have new practices replace the old culture. (This final step takes time; it comes last in the transformation process).