Kotter’s Eight Step Change Model – Explained

Organizational change is described as the shift of the behavior of the whole organization, to one degree or another. One should understand that change is not that can immediately occurs, ought to be intended and planned process to maintain an organization practical and existing.

Three categories of organizational change are;

  1. Development change is that change where organization try perform better what they all ready performing.
  2. Transitional change is that change in which organization implement totally new methods replacing old ones.
  3. Transformational change is that change where organization do major overhauling of its structure, vision and strategy and change bring evolution in the organization.

Managing culture in the organization is very important these days when every day new technology is coming and there is so much competition in the market to stay on the top. Organizations are going through a big cycle of cultural change these days from daily tasks to improving customer satisfaction, performance and profitability. Organizations which are investing in emerging countries face many problems and challenges in changing organizational culture in those countries, failing to do so can lead them to closure of low performance and less profitability in business and in the worse scenario may be they have to face closure of business or doing mergers with local partners. One of the main problems for them to implement change in the organization which can be hard and painful process because it’s not compulsory that change get successful it can go either way. To confront the forces against that management or change organizations have to think about the cultural values and beliefs in order to survive in the changing world, though many scholars are agreed on that change can’t be implemented by force. Many scholars have given different models of changing. Lewin (1952) was one the leading scholars who gave the model of change who gave the idea of unfreezing, moving and refreezing.

John .P Kotter (1996) give very good model of change in his famous book ”Leading Change” which is call Kotter’s Eight Step Change Model, which is being widely use in many organizations to manage the change. He described eight stages of change in his model to explain the change in any organization. These steps are;

  1. Establish sense of urgency
  2. Formation of powerful coalition
  3. Creating a strategy and Vision
  4. Communication of the vision
  5. Employee empowerment
  6. Creating short term wins
  7. Consolidate Gains and generate more change
  8. Anchoring new approaches in the organizational culture

These are the eight steps made by the Kotter for the change in the organizations many companies fails to implement change or can’t get the desired result they want to get from that cultural change these eight step will help any organization to help to manage change in the organization.

Kotter's Eight Step Change Model - Change Management Models

Above mentioned eight steps are being explained below

Step 1: Establish Sense of Urgency

To make an important change effort it is essential to create a sense of urgency. It will help the whole organization to make the change happen and this may assist to get the initial motivation for the change. It is not easy to on very first step to convince people for the change. It is very important that people should realize the sense of urgency. In the beginning not many of the members of the staff will be willing to work for the change to make it change to happen most of your staff should work for the change in the organization otherwise it will be very hard to make change happen. This step should not be ignored. Before moving to the next level Organizations need to work really hard on this stage and will consume enough time and shouldn’t be in rush to jump to next step before making and sense of urgency. Leader should know the difference in false urgency, true urgency and complacency.

To make it happen organizations can take these steps:

  1. Identification of the possible threats which can take place in the future by presenting scenario.
  2. Tell everyone the real situation and talk about issues honestly in meetings.
  3. Force people to talk disappointed customers, stakeholder and suppliers.
  4. Show people the opportunities in future by promising to give reward to avail that opportunities.

Step 2: Formation of Powerful Coalition

It is very important for the success of any change to put the right and powerful people together to guide the initiative of change. Leaders should be from the whole organization and you can ignore the hierarchy of the organization and should have substantial level of trust and accurate composition. There should be some managers and team leaders in the coalition. To form a power full coalition one should keep in mind people in the team must be on powerful position with expertise, credibility and good qualities of leadership amongst them. This team can help keep going the momentum of change by using its power to make it happen regardless of of different powers of inertia. How it can happen?

  1. Find the right people who can lead by identification of true leaders in the organization.
  2. This team must be committed emotionally.
  3. Coalition should work as team regardless of their positions.
  4. There should be mixture of people in the coalitions from different positions and departments.

Step 3: Creating a Strategy and Vision

For the creation of the vision and strategy of the organization it is important to tell people how the future will differ from the past. The vision should be clear that everyone could understand it easily and start working on the effort of the change. if the vision will be clear people will know the direction of change. Clear vision will help people to coordinate in their actions more quickly and in professional way. Vision must be easy to communicate should be flexible and focused. Show the logic to the people that how the vision can be achieved by making the strategy. Before making any vision organization should check the feasibility of the vision as well. Vision can’t be created over night should give enough time to make vision. How can have effective vision;

  1. The vision should  accomplish the strategy.
  2. Vision must contain the goal which is feasible and desirable.
  3. There should be flexibility in the vision if the condition changes.
  4. Vision must be easy to explain and communicate to the people.

Step 4: Communication of the Vision

Communication is very important for the change. Organizations must try to communicate its vision widely to as many as people they can so they can recognize and accept the vision. For the acceptance of change organization must use all the sources to communicate constantly about the vision and strategy. Communication massage must be strong then you normal routine massages it should have priority and should be discussed more and more in the meetings. Organization should use the different forums to communicate its visions. Communication about the vision should repeat again and again that people don’t forget it. Everyone in the organization should have the knowledge about the vision from top to bottom and should act same as well. For the effective communication of the vision executives should make the meeting interesting rather than boring and should have more arrangement and suggestions about the vision. All new courses which organization will offer to its employees should have focus on vision. If the leader in the will act accordingly and they will show this the effect of this action will go in all the organization everyone will act the same.

To communicate the vision these things should keep in mind.

  1. Keep the communication simple without using jargon or babble
  2. Communication should be vivid, to do so give examples or use metaphor to understand that vision.
  3. Communication on multiple forums in formal and informal way is very important to spread the news about vision.
  4. There should not be one way communication it must be two way communications because it is always better to have two way communications.
  5. Leaders should have be consistency in their communication.

Step 5: Employee Empowerment

Employee empowerment plays a very important role in change. For the empowerment of employees all the barriers and obstacles should be removed by the organization so employee can perform at their best. Normally there can be four barriers which can come across in the change vision it can be , lack of needed skills structure, formal structure of the organization can make it hard to act , system of at personnel and information can make it complex to act upon it and if supervisors don’t encourage the employees. Although it is very hard to finish all the barriers but for the successful implementation of the vision of the change it is good to change some of the systems which are really dis-empowering must be changed to get the vision right. Most effective changes can happen in restructure the appraisal and reward system for the reflection of the change vision. Removing the barriers will empower the employee and can lead to successful change.

To empower the employee organization can do these things.

  1. There should be reward system in place for the employees who help to lead change then recognize and reward them.
  2. Try to change the organization structure to align with the vision of the change by reviewing you r reward system or appraisal system.
  3. There should be a quick and prompt action to remove the barriers.
  4. Try to identify people who are resisting to change coach them or guide them.

Step 6: Creating Short Term Wins

Short term wins are very necessary for the long term change in the organization and it is very important to create some evident and instantly recognizable success. It will motivate the people in the organization that change is working. Organization that creates this kind of win in early stages of the change, this is easy and more like to complete the transformation of the organization. These short term wins are proof sacrifice for the change has worth and this give boost in moral of the people who are working for the change. People who create the wins should get recognition and rewards for making the win happen. These wins will help to improve the performance and will make chance to have more wins. Organization should create the short term target not only a long term target because short term targets are easier to achieve as compare to long term goals. There is less chance of failure in short term targets though it can be hard for them to achieve them. Every short term win is source of motivation for the people in the organization. It should be celebrated. These wins will create momentum and some neutral people will turn into people who support and people who are reluctant to support this win will turn them in to active helper. These wins will help the executives to recognize that change is working.

How to get early wins;

  1. Look for that projects which can launch easily and will have less criticism.
  2. Don’t put an expensive project for the short term win may be you couldn’t have enough money to support that project for short term win one should keep this thing in mind before starting any project.
  3. People who have helped to achieve the target organization should give them reward.
  4. There should be comprehensive analysis about the all the possible pros and cons of any goals because if you couldn’t recognize them there is chance of failure which will effect whole change process.

Step 7: Consolidate Gains and Generate More Change

At this level of change organizations should create new changes and strengthen its achievements. There can be resistance at this level from the people who have been under-grounded by the short term wins. They can come out again and will resist against this. Some of them will be against giving empowerment to employees and some of them will say why so much importance is being given to the customers. For the consolidation organization should launch a new product if you successfully launch it this means that change is working in the organization. After this point organization should keep looking for the more opportunities to improve. This is the time for the leaders in the organization to make sure everything is running smoothly are the organizational culture. At this stage of change they have to keep themselves positive otherwise it will be very problematic for them to cope with the world which is changing very quickly.

It can be happend if;

  1. Whenever there is a win organization should do analysis that what was good about it and what went wrong.
  2. For the continuous achievement set the target to keep the momentum going.
  3. Recruit more people to help the change.
  4. There should be continuous effort to keep the urgency high.
  5. There should be continuous evidence that change is doing well.
  6. Give authority to employee to guide the projects.

Step 8: Anchoring New Approaches in the Organizational Culture

This is the time when it needs to make it stick and anchoring the new approaches. It will be part of your core values of the organization and it can be recognize by the day to day work. These values become part of your organization of the culture they should reflect in day to day practices of the organization and there should be constant attempts to keep it this way. It is necessary that leaders of the organization keep supporting the change if leaders fail to do so it can have bad effect on the change and organization might have to start from the beginning. Everyone who joins the company should be informed about the culture of the organization to keep it alive. It possible organization might lose some people during the change effort. Everyone should accept the change and follow it for the betterment and success of the cultural change for the long term bases.

To keep this continue in the organization these practices should follow;

  1. The success of the organization should be communicated in good manner and noticeable.
  2. There should be new rewards, promotion and incentive with the strengthening of new values and norms.
  3. Organization should give the recognition to the people who were included in coalition of change and all other people as well.
  4. Organization should reinforce the values and norm to the new hiring employees and whenever you train new staff.

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