HomeBlogBusiness ProcessSuccessful Change Management using Kotter’s Change Management Model

Successful Change Management using Kotter’s Change Management Model

Whether you’re considering a system-wide company change or something a few degrees smaller, it’s natural to feel intimidated or uneasy by the potential challenges that might involve. There aren’t many people out there who like change. It’s a big decision to shake things up, and you no doubt know that there’ll be hurdles to jump before you reach your desired ending. It can be a long and winding road of hills and bumps. In fact, only thirty percent of change management initiatives succeed. If you start one, you have more chance of failing at it than you do at succeeding, and that isn’t something you should ignore.

There are many theories about what makes a successful change manager, and lots of these originate from an expert in the field called John Kotter.


Who is John Kotter?

John Kotter was a professor at Harvard Business School. He’s a world renowned expert and best selling author, as well as an award winning business management thought leader. His company, ideas and books have mobilised businesses across the glove. He’s forward-thinking and progressive. He’s a leader in the field. The art of change management adapts with his research and understanding of the subject.

In 1995, John Kotter released a book, which focused on an eight-step change process for businesses. It was called ‘Leading Change’, and was selected by Times Magazine as one of the top twenty-five most influential business management books of all time in 2011.

In this article, we’ll sum up some of John Kotter’s most useful points, to help you with your change management strategy.


The eight step change process


Step One: Create Urgency

John Kotter says effective change management can only be achieved if there is a sense of urgency and lots of motivation. This can’t be as simple as talking about increased competition and sales, it must be deeper – moving towards open and convincing dialogue amongst all key leaders and wider staff about what is happening in the marketplace and why it is important you change. If lots of people start conversing about the change, urgency will build.


Step 2: Form a powerful coalition

Making sure people within the organisation understand change is needed will make your job one hundred times easier, so rather than barging in and announcing it is happening, you need to get some people onside. To do this, strong leadership is needed, as well as visible support from key members of the organisation. According to Kotter, managing change is not enough, effective change management leaders must be present throughout the company, in all key departments. You should convince influential people who specialise in different areas of requirement that change is needed. They will be your biggest cheerleaders. Once your team has been handcrafted, it’s important to work together to build momentum and urgency.


Step 3: Creating a vision for change

When creating a vision and strategy, the organisation must think through the foreseeable change and how it will be achieved. This formally lets stakeholders understand the reason for the move. They’ll have a good image of where you are headed, and are much more likely to support your ideas.

When Yorkshire Change manage change management, we paint a picture of the future that will offer guidance for organisational decision making. Vision helps people understand their role, and how they need to adapt their work to help the company reach its goals. This helps any necessary new instructions make sense.


Step 4: Communicate the vision

It is vitally important you communicate your vision repeatedly and clearly. Remember, not everyone is as focused on the change process as you are, your staff will be working, and their instincts will tell them to continue with their work as normal, so there is a lot of noise to fight through. Talk about your new vision absolutely every chance you get. Make people excited. Keep it fresh. Encourage people to give input. Don’t just talk about it, think, breathe and act out your vision. Be a leader. Demonstrate the exact level of excitement and motivation you want from others.


Step 5: Remove Obstacles

If you’ve reached this point, you’ve been talking about your vision and now have the support of people in different roles and on different levels all across the organisation. Your staff are eager to get started. Now, it’s time to look at whether anyone is resisting the change, or if there are any other obstacles, like processes, that might throw a spanner in the works. Taking stock of your barriers is very important. Any build-up of obstruction might throw off your plans in the end. It’s important you recognise – and deal with – any obstacles as they arrive.


Step 6: Create short-term wins

Nothing motivates people more than success and reward. It is vital you make sure your company is aware of the small wins you are achieving on your way to the end goal. You should plan for these wins in the initial stages of your change management plan. Make a note of the milestones in advance, and celebrate with your company when you achieve each one. This means critics cannot hurt your progress.

When you’re creating your short-term targets, choose milestones that are easy to achieve and have little room for failure. Every win you achieve will motivate your staff to continue.


Step 7: Build on the Change

Lots of change projects fail because the senior leaders or project managers declare victory before they are ready. Long-term change is just that – long term. Don’t shout as though you’ve done what you set out to do to appease your staff, because it could throw them off the actual end goal. Launching a new product is fantastic, but launching one doesn’t mean your system is working, so set yourself a proper end-goal, one that only arrives when you are sure that change is robust and complete, and don’t announce you’re there until you are actually there.


Step 8: Anchor the changes in corporate culture

To make any change permanent, it needs to be part of the core of your organisation. In time, it should not become something you are striving for anymore, but something that is embedded in your staff culture. This might take a while, but will happen eventually if your efforts are continuous. Don’t drop the ball, not even for a little while. Insist on the change, manage if effectively, and it will happen. After a period of time, your changes will be anchored in your corporate culture. We can’t say how long it will take – each individual circumstance is different – but we can say it will happen, so long as you’ve followed proper processes.


Final Thoughts

There is no need to go it alone. At Yorkshire change, we have the experience you’d need to make your change management project a success. We’ll personalise our service, tailoring it to your specific business needs.

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