Kotter’s 8 Step Change Model

Kotter’s 8 Step Change Model


Change is constantly occurring inside organizations all over the world.  It is imperative for these organizations to create a structure with a series of steps to follow when implementing change.  John Kotter created such a structure with his 8 step change model, which is a popular framework for successfully implementing organizational change.

John Kotter, a professor at Harvard Business School, is a leading thinker and author on organizational change management.  He introduced his eight-step change process in his 1995 book, “Leading Change.”  In this book, he discusses mistakes organizations often make when implementing change and an eight step process for successfully bringing about change. 

Each stage outlines what needs to be done in order to keep a change project on track.  Each stage acknowledges a key principle identified by Kotter relating to people’s response and approach to change, in which people see, feel and then change.  


Kotter’s Eight Step Change Model

Kotter’s eight step change model can be summarized as:

  1. Create a sense of urgency
  2. Build a guiding coalition
  3. Develop a strategic vision
  4. Communicate the vision
  5. Remove barriers to enable action
  6. Generate short-term wins
  7. Build on change
  8. Make change stick


Kotter’s 8 Step Change Model Summary

Create A Sense of Urgency

This is a series of actions taken to communicate with critical stakeholders why change must occur and why it must occur now.  It is about inspiring people to act with passion and purpose  to achieve a bold, aspirational objective.


Build A Guiding Coalition

This is a series of actions taken to identify capable, influential, and critical allies to become their change oversight team.  It is about getting the right people in place with the right emotional commitment, and the right mix of skills and levels.


Develop A Strategic Vision

This is a series of actions to give the organization a picture of what the future looks like after the change is implemented.  It is about getting the team to establish a simple vision and strategy, focus on emotional and creative aspects necessary to drive service and efficiency.


Communicate the Vision

This is a series of actions to communicate the change vision broadly to the organization to promote understanding and commitment for the new direction.  It is about involving as many people as possible, communicate the essentials, simply, and to appeal and respond to people’s needs.


Remove Barriers to Enable Action

This is a series of actions to remove obstacles that do not support the change vision.  It about removing obstacles, enabling constructive feedback and rewarding and recognizing progress and achievements.


Generate Short-Term Wins

This is a series of actions to sustain the change effort over the long term by generating goodwill through visible organizational short-term wins.  It is about setting manageable numbers of initiatives that are achievable.


Build on Change

This is a series of actions to prevent the organization from sliding into complacency and to continue organizational momentum for change.  It is about fostering and encouraging determination and persistence to achieve the ultimate goals. 


Make Change Stick

This is a series of actions to make changes in the organization that align with the new change effort.  It is about reinforcing the value of successful change via recruitment, promotion, new change leaders to ultimately weave change into the culture.


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