Thursday, February 16, 2012

Leadership Insight: Kotter’s 8 Steps for Leading Change

Leadership Insight: Kotter’s 8 Steps for Leading Change

Leadership Insight: Kotter’s 8 Steps for Leading Change


John Kotter is a professor at Harvard Business School who offers an eight-step change process in his ground-breaking book “Leading Change” (1995). Here are his eight steps:

1. Create a Sense of Urgency. Companies have a lot on their plates and are wedded to what they already do. therefore motivating change is a critical first step. Professor Kotter says you have to create a sense of urgency around the need for change. Kotter suggests that for change to be successful, 75% of a company’s management needs to “buy into” the change. This requires a major effort and explains why so few change efforts are effective.

2. Form a Powerful Coalition. You can’t do it alone. Kotter suggests that an effective change effort requires the change agent to bring together a coalition of influential people with a diverse power base within the organization. The leader of change mustidentify the true leaders in the organization and instill an enduring and serious emotional commitment to the end goal of the change effort.

3. Create a Vision for Change. Keep in mind Steven covey’s advice: “start with the end in mind.” An effective change leader must be able to convey a clear and compelling image of what it will look like if the change occurs. To motivate decision makers to change you must connect the outcome with established and accepted values.

4. Communicate the Vision. The change leader must communicate clearly, powerfully and frequently the vision including the benefits the desired change will bring.

5. Remove Obstacles. An effective change leader identifies and removes as much as possible obstacles that could prevent or impede the change. This may be certain individuals that need to be persuaded or at least neutralized or traditions, processes or procedures that need to be modified or eliminated.

6. Create Short-term Wins. Prove the vision is attainable by identifying and celebrating incremental changes. To do this create short-term moderate objectives as well a long-term ones. Look for the “low hanging fruit” – easy victories. Publicize accomplishments and praise those who made it happen.

7. Build on the Change. Build on the results and pride in successful incremental changes. Analyze what went right and replicate it. Determine what needs improving and improve it.

8. Anchor the Changes in Corporate Culture. Like losing weight, sustaining the progress is often more difficult than achieving in the first place. To make the change sustainable, the new reality must become part of organization’s culture.

Here are three powerful commentaries on change by Michael Josephson:

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