By Brenda Barker
In Leading Change, John Kotter (1996) describes the eight step process to create lasting transformations. He states, “Useful change tends to be associated with a multi-step process that creates power and motivation sufficient to overwhelm all the sources of inertia” (p. 20).
The Eight-Stage Process of Creating Major Change*
- Establishing a Sense of Urgency: examining the realities; identifying and discussing crises, potential crises, or major opportunities
- Creating the Guiding Coalition: putting together a group with enough power to lead the change; getting the group to work together like a team
- Developing a Vision and Strategy: creating a vision to help direct the change effort; developing strategies for achieving that vision
- Communicating the Change Vision: using every vehicle possible to constantly communicate the new vision and strategies; having the guiding coalition role model the behavior expected
- Empowering Broad-Based Action: getting rid of obstacles; changing systems or structures undermining the change vision; encouraging risk taking and nontraditional ideas, activities and actions
- Generating Short-Term Wins: planning for visible improvements in performance; creating those “wins”; visibly recognizing and rewarding people who make the “wins” possible
- Consolidating Gains and Producing More Change: using increased credibility to change all systems, structures, and policies that don’t fit together and don’t fit the transformation vision; hiring, promoting and developing people who can implement the change vision; reinvigorating the process with new projects, themes, and change agents
- Anchoring New Approaches in the Culture: creating better performance through customer-and productivity-oriented behavior, more and better leadership and more effective management; articulating the connections between new behavior and organizational success; developing means to ensure leadership development and succession
* Adapted from John P. Kotter, “Why Transformation Efforts Fail,” Harvard Business Review (March-April 1995)
According to Kotter (1996), sustained improvement is based on understanding and applying the multistage process and “Leadership, leadership, and still more leadership” (p. 31).