Kotter’s 8-Step Change Model

Change is the word that best described of the modern societies and culture. Change occurred in almost every aspects of life. Change presses us out from our comfort zone. People changed in their life to avoid stagnation and to improve their quality of life and become a better person. This is also true in business where the rapid change in technologies, the way of doing things, advances in information technologies, internal and external pressures, e-business and globalization creates a competitive environment in most organization in order to survive and to be relevant. How business react, operate and adapt to any changes determine the survivability of the company. In organization, change is necessary but often proves to be challenging.

To guide a change (managing a change process) may be the greatest test for the leader of the organization especially when there is resistance. Therefore to lead a change is essential but difficult. The successfulness on implementing change in an organization requires a series of phase, a correct tools and proper planning.  It involves the use of basic tools and structures to control and manage any organisational change efforts. This means that a change manager in every organisation is duty-bound to initiate and lead change in an organization. It really clarifies that, management implies leadership and leadership is a subset of management. The change management focuses on people, their resistance, their coping mechanisms and ultimately how they accept change in the workplace.

There are many management thinkers at different times who have proposed many different theories and model regarding the nature of change management and how to manage the changes effectively for better of the organisations. One of the first and most popular theories of change management was given by Kurt Lewin. Lewin’s model is rather simple however other change management theories are based on this model.

One of the leading management guru is John P. Kotter who introduced concept of eight steps to organization change management to help company adapt and prepare to various changes that affecting organization. Kotter has written several bestseller books. The most recognize one is Leading Change, which discusses practical 8-step process for the organization to follow when facing changes. The process describes useful insight on how to manage change for business organization of which key principles taking into people participation and roles in identification and implementing strategies.

Kotter’s 8-Step Change Model are being discussed briefly as follows:

Kotter's 8-Step Change Model

  1. Step 1: Create urgency – For change to occur it is necessary the whole organization realizes the need for change and puts its effort in making the change. For this purpose managers can paint a grim picture of the future if continued on the same path. Explain to the shareholders the increase in ability of the organization to exploit its resources. There should be feed back from the stakeholders and there ideas should be incorporated in the change process.
  2. Step 2: Coalitions – This is the point where the leadership emerges; people among the stakeholder should take charge of the groups. It is necessary that to identify the key leadership and make them commit to the change in the organization. This is necessary that people who are selected for the leadership believe in the change.
  3. Step 3: Vision for change – When the process of change starts there are many idea of floating. All these ideals need to be linked together if in order to form a vision. This vision needs to be simple and understandable. The vision gives people a sense of direction; they understand the purpose of the change. For change to be successful you need to know the main idea behind the change. For this purpose prepare a summary of the future endeavors of the company. Knowing about the future helps people to support the organization.
  4. Step 4: Communication of vision – Every person in the organization needs to know the objective of the change. The previous paradigm of the company will produce resistance against the new method. The new Mission statement needs to overcome the resistance and unite the organization on a single path to success. For this the management needs to address all the doubts and problems of the people. Divide the vision into smaller objectives and tie the performance of individual with the achievement of these objectives.
  5. Step 5: Remove obstacles – In the process of change, there will always be resistance. The objective of the management is to minimize this resistance and bring the stakeholders to a common platform on which everybody can express their opinion. As the process of change moves forward, there should be constant checks for any barriers to change.
  6. Step 6: Create short term objectives – For the process of change to work people need to know that it is working. For this management can divide the main objective in to simpler objectives. The management should thoroughly analyze the short term objectives such that they are achievable and motivation. For the achievement of every objective the employees should be rewarded.
  7. Step 7: Build on the change – The process of change is not complete he unless and until the change culture has inculcated into the organization. Changes in many organizations fail because they do not fully implement the changed processes. The changed processes should become part and parcel of life in the organization. The people of the organization need to build on the changed processes and achieve even more success.
  8. Step 8: Change in corporate culture – The most difficult thing to do in bringing about change into the organization is to change the culture of the organization. In history many of the mergers in companies have failed because they unable to merge the culture of the companies. Changing the culture of the company is a very long and hard process.

The above provide general information on Kotter’s 8-Step Change Model of which offers good framework for an organization in approaching change.  Kotter’s 8-Step Change Model  focus on the urgency sense and on a high degree of responsiveness, leadership (powerful guiding coalition) and human resources, vision and structure, communication, empowerment, short term win through challenging but also reachable goals, continuous improvement in systems, processes and practices, people planning and development. According to him only 15% of businesses will successfully implement and adapt to change that coming to them. One of the reasons may be that most management fails to take the complexity of human the connection. Some of executives would probably outline the right business strategy but unable to implement it effectively due to internal resistance to change within its organization as well as poorly communicate to the staff of the changes and the way to go forward in managing it and cause misunderstanding or fear among employee. To summarize, Kotter’s 8-Step Change Model is very useful and actionable, nevertheless, the company chose also be mindful of its staff culture and personality and revise plan to communicate effectively.