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Framework #26

8 Step Change Model

Kotter (1996)

What does it mean?

John Kotter, Harvard Business School Professor, wrote the seminal book “Leading Change” in 1995. The Kotter 8 Step Change Model set out key stages for the change journey, arguing that neglecting any of these steps can be enough for the whole initiative to fail. The 8 Step Change Model consists of:

  1. Create a sense of urgency
  2. Build a guiding coalition
  3. Form a strategic vision and incentives
  4. Enlist a volunteer army
  5. Enable action by removing barriers
  6. Generate short-term wins
  7. Sustain acceleration
  8. Institute change

The premise behind Kotter’s work, which has spanned many decades, is that change of any kind is not easy and therefore requires extensive planning. Importantly, after change is “implemented” it does not mean the end of the journey and that there is a lot more to do to ensure it “sticks”. Kotter argues that many organisations do not put in the necessary efforts in preparing for change or do not see the project through correctly - declaring “victory” too early which means that old patterns re-emerge and organisations can regress back to old ways or working.

Why do we believe it's important?

Kotter’s 8 Step Change Model helps position and outline the critical building blocks for successful change and we have identified elements of these building blocks (or Enablers) within our ADL Adoption Engineering Framework. The eight steps help build “agency” and “pathway” that enable organisations’ understanding of the need, the vision, the stakeholders, the barriers and the approach for transformation.  

  • Agency refers to those delivering change to have both the belief and the authority to act. Agency provides the empowerment, motivation, capability and priority to make a difference, at both the individual and organizational levels
  • Pathway provides a credible route map to deliver change

How do we put it into practice?

We find that Kotter’s 8 Step Change Model can be used in conjunction with other leading frameworks and theories like SCARF and MINDSPACE. We worked with a multinational multi-media company to help them develop a strategy to change to a new (more digital) operating model. Working with key stakeholders, we helped outline ‘the what’, ‘the who’ and worked to define ‘the how’ based on the Kotter model. This set the key foundational steps in motion to enable an adoption engineering plan to be delivered alongside the delivery team to ensure that the people element had at least the same level of attention as the new tools and processes that were implemented - together the people, the process and the technology transformed our client’s ways of working.   

Source: John Kotter, Leading Change, Harvard Business School Press, 1996

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