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Understanding change in a business
The Globe and Mail. Seventy per cent of big changes in a company fail; John Kotter explains why

The Kotter model

In the 90s Harvard-professor John P. Kotter had been observing this process for almost 30 years. In his book Leading Change he argues that to make big changes significantly and effectively, there are generally eight basic things that must happen:

INSTILL A SENSE OF URGENCY. Identifying existing or potential crises or opportunities. Confronting reality, in the words of Execution-authors, Charan and Bossidy.
BUILD A GUIDING COALITION. Assembling a strong guiding coalition with enough power to lead the change effort. And make them work as a team, not a committee!
CREATE A VISION AND SUPPORTING STRATEGIES. We need a clear sense of purpose and direction. In less successful situations you generally find plans and budgets, but no vision and strategy; or the strategies are so superficial that they have no credibility.
COMMUNICATE. As many people as possible need to hear the mandate for change loud and clear, with messages sent out consistently and often. Forget the boring memos that nobody reads! Try using videos, speeches, kick-off meetings, workshops in small units, etc. Also important is the teaching of new behaviours by the example of the guiding coalition
REMOVE OBSTACLES. Get rid of anything blocking change, like bosses stuck in the old ways or lack of information systems. Encourage risk-taking and non-traditional ideas, activities, and actions. Empowerment is moving obstacles out of peoples' way so they can make something happen, once they've got the vision clear in their heads.
CREATE SOME QUICK WINS. This is essential for creating momentum and providing sufficient credibility to pat the hard-working people on the back and to diffuse the cynics. Remember to recognize and reward employees involved in the improvements.
KEEP ON CHANGING. After change organizations get rolling and have some wins, they don't stop there. They go back and make wave after wave of other actions necessary for long-term, significant change. Successful change leaders don't drop the sense of urgency. On top of that, they are very systematic about figuring out all of the pieces they need to have in place before they declare victory.
MAKE CHANGE STICK. The last big step is nailing big change to the floor and making sure it sticks. And the way things stick is through culture. If you can create a totally new culture around some new way of managing, it will stay. It won't live on if it is dependent on one boss or a couple of enthusiastic people who will eventually move on.


We can divide these eight steps in three main processes. The first four steps focus on de-freezing the organization. The next three steps make change happen. The last step re-freezes the organization on the next rung on the ladder.

Kotter avoids any discussion re how this high level approach ties into Project Management. Anderson & Anderson (The Change Leaders Roadmap) adopt a similar high level approach however do tie it into the lower level by adding in a lot of trad. PM items.
backlash  John_Kotter  organizational_change  change_management  urgency  Communicating_&_Connecting  roadmaps  change_agents  risk-taking  obstacles  obstructionism  entrenchment  quick_wins  non-traditional  shared_consciousness  momentum  operational_tempo  project_management  action_plans  eels  emotional_commitment  buy-in  resistance 
october 2010 by jerryking
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