Organisational Change Management Volume 1

Framework 45 Eight Steps to Organisational Change

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John Kotter studied why organisational transformations failed. This formed the basis for an 8 steps framework which is summarised below:

organisational development change management

NB Steps 1 (create a sense of urgency) and 2 (pull together the guiding team) set the stage; step 3 (develop the change of vision and strategy) is deciding what to do; step 4 (communicate for understanding and buy in) to reinforce the purpose, step 5 (empower others to act on the vision), step 6 (produce short-term wins) and step 7 (don't let up) make it happen; step 8 (create a new culture) make the change stick.

The table below explains the right action at the different stages, with common pitfalls.

1. Creating a sense of urgency i) Examine market and competitive realities for potential crises and untapped opportunities
ii) Convince at least 75% of your managers that status quo is more dangerous than the unknown
i) Underestimating the difficulty of driving people from their comfort zones
ii) Becoming paralysed by risks
2. Form a powerful guiding coalition i) Assemble a group with shared commitment and enough power to lead the change effort
ii) Encourage them to work as a team outside the normal hierarchy
i) No prior experience in team work at the top
ii) Relegating team leadership to an HR, quality or strategic-planning executive rather than a senior line manager
3. Creating a vision i) Create a vision to direct the change effort
ii) Develop strategies for realising that vision
i) Presenting a vision that is too complicated or vague to be communicated in a couple of minutes
4. Communicating the vision i) Use every vehicle possible to communicate the new vision and strategies for achieving it
ii) Teach new behaviours by the example of the guiding coalition
i) Under-communicating the vision
ii) Behaviour does not support the vision
5. Empowering others to act on the vision i) Removal or alter systems, structures, etc that undermine the vision
ii) Encourage risk-taking and non-traditional ideas, activities and actions
i) Failing to remove powerful individuals who resist the change effort
6. Planning for and create short-term wins i) Design and engineer visible performance improvements
ii) Recognise and reward employees contributing to those improvements
i) Leaving short-term success up to chance
ii) Failing to score successes early enough (1 to 2 years into the change effort)
7. Consolidating improvements produce more change i) Use increased credibility from early wins to change systems, structures and policies that are undermining the vision
ii) Hire, promote, develop employees who can implement the vision
ii) Reinvigorate the change process with new products and change agents
i) Declaring victory too early, ie with the first performance improvement
ii) Allowing resistors to convince others that the 'war has been won'
8. Institutionalising new approaches i) Articulate connections between new behaviours and corporate success
ii) Create leadership development and succession plans consistent with the new approach
i) Not creating new social norms and shared values consistent with change
ii) Promote people into leadership positions who don't personify the new approach
(source: John Kotter, 2011)

(sources: John Kotter, 1995, 1996a & 1996b; Tracy Coombes, 2008)


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