Skip to main content

Kotter’s Eight Step Change Model

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*

  1. Establishing a Sense of Urgency: examining the realities; identifying and discussing crises, potential crises, or major opportunities
  2. Creating the Guiding Coalition: putting together a group with enough power to lead the change; getting the group to work together like a team
  3. Developing a Vision and Strategy: creating a vision to help direct the change effort; developing strategies for achieving that vision
  4. 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
  5. 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
  6. Generating Short-Term Wins: planning for visible improvements in performance; creating those “wins”; visibly recognizing and rewarding people who make the “wins” possible
  7. 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
  8. 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).