Project Management

What is Kotter’s 8-Step Change Model?

Kotter’s 8-Step Change Model

Kotter’s 8-Step Change Model is a theory that suggests there are specific steps that need to be followed in order to implement change in an organization.

The Model offers a systematic way of understanding the underlying causes of successful or unsuccessful change initiatives. This model uses concepts and techniques that help to provide guidance on the process of change. It has been used by organisations to successfully implement changes such as restructurings and mergers.

In his book “Leading Change,” John Kotter (1996), a Harvard Business School professor and noted change specialist, proposed the 8 Step Model of Change, which he created based on research of 100 businesses in the midst of a change process.

Creating a sense of urgency, forming powerful guiding coalitions, developing a vision and strategy, communicating the vision, removing obstacles and empowering employees to take action, achieving short-term wins, consolidating gains, and strengthening change by anchoring change in the culture are the eight steps in the change process.

8 Steps of the Kotter’s Change Model

kotter's change steps

1) Creating Urgency

This can be accomplished in a variety of ways:

  • Identifying and emphasising possible risks and consequences that may arise in the future.
  • Investigate the possibilities that can be realised through effective interventions.
  • Initiate open and honest discussions and debates to encourage others to consider the problems at hand and to provide persuasive arguments for doing so.
  • On the topic of change, we request the participation and assistance of industry professionals, important stakeholders, and customers.

2) Form a Powerful Coalition

This can be accomplished in a variety of ways:

  • Identify your organization’s successful change leaders as well as important stakeholders and seek their participation and commitment to the whole process.
  • Form a strong change alliance that will work together.
  • Identify the weak points in the coalition teams and make sure that they include a diverse group of important people from various cross-functional departments and levels of the organization.

3) Create a Vision for Change

This may be accomplished by using the following methods:

  • Identifying fundamental principles, establishing the ultimate vision, and developing methods for implementing change in a company.
  • Ascertain that the change leaders can successfully explain the vision in a way that people can comprehend and follow.

4) Communicate the Vision

  • Communicate the shift in perspective as often as possible, in a compelling and persuasive manner.
  • Connect the vision to all of the important components, such as performance reviews, training, and so on.
  • Handle people’s worries and difficulties with honesty and participation.

5) Empower Actions

  • Ascertain that the organization’s procedures and structure are in place and that they are in line with the company’s overarching goal.
  • Check for obstacles or persons who are resistant to change on a regular basis. Take proactive steps to overcome the challenges that come with the transition process.
  • Incentivize employees for embracing change and assisting in the transition.

6) Create Quick Wins

  • A sense of triumph may be created at an early stage by establishing short-term wins.
  • Rather to focus on a single long-term objective, set a number of realistic and less expensive short-term goals that are less likely to fail.
  • Reward those who have contributed to the achievement of the goals.

7) Build on the Change

Continue to develop by analyzing specific success stories and learning from them.

8) Embed the Change

  • Every time you have a chance, bring up successful transformation projects that you’ve been a part of.
  • The change must become part of your organization’s culture and be apparent in every element of your business.
  • Maintain the support of corporate leaders, old and new, in order to achieve a successful transition.

Advantages of Using Kotter’s Change Model

Some advantages of using Kotter’s 8-Step Change Model are:

  • As a step-by-step model, it gives a clear definition of the whole change process and provides direction on how to apply it.
  • It guides the decision-makers on the road to success.
  • To start a change programme, the decision-makers need to have a clear and concise picture of the possible success of the change.
  • The effectiveness of the whole process depends on the employees’ engagement and acceptance.
  • Instead of focusing on the actual change process, the focus is on preparing and developing acceptability for it.

Disadvantages of using Kotter’s Change Model

Some Disadvantages of using Kotter’s Change Model are:

  • There are so many steps in this approach that omitting anyone might cause significant issues.
  • The process takes a long time (Rose 2002).
  • Because the approach is mainly top-down, participation and co-creation are mostly discouraged in it.
  • If the individual needs are not met, it can lead to irritation and discontent among employees.

What is the difference between Lewin’s model and Kotter’s model?

Three stages make Lewin’s model appear to be easy. Unfreeze, Transition, and Freeze are the terms used to describe them. Try to reduce the forces involved in keeping things as they are. Keeping things as they are might be viewed as the equilibrium stance. It is possible to unfreeze by, for example, strengthening the pressures that push behaviour and attitudes away from the status quo. Organizational reforms or new development approaches can accomplish this.

Kotter’s approach is more useful since it gives defined phases for the transformation process. But because of its rigidity, stages cannot be omitted and the process might take a while to complete.

Insights into successful change management may be gained from both approaches. As long as both are utilized in combination, the inherent weaknesses of either one may be mitigated to some extent.

This is exemplified by the training firm Velopi, for instance. They used Kotter’s model to fill out Lewin’s stages in greater depth. In terms of change management, you may either take a strict strategy with numerous phases, or you can simplify your approach. In the first example, Kotter’s model is more appropriate, whereas, in the second, Lewin’s model is preferable.

Learn more about Lewin’s Model

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