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How to 'do' change

I’m currently working in a climate of change, (though I say currently, I can’t help but resonate with this quote from Heraclitus “The Only Constant is Change…”) Nonetheless it got me thinking and reflecting about change management theories I’ve come across in the past.  Some time ago I shared a theory called ‘The Path of the Everyday Hero’ which is one of my favourites – click here to access my blog.  As you will read, this particular framework is useful to recognise (the normal) emotions we all experience when going through personal or professional change and the associated journey.

One of the great names associated with change theory is John Kotter, a thought leader and Harvard Business School Professor.  His 8 steps consider change more from the perspective of how to ‘do’ it.  This is incredibly useful when planning and leading change initiatives.

Kotter’s 8 steps are:

  1. Create a sense of urgency – getting buy in, being open and transparent with proposals and getting that ‘fire in the belly’ throughout the organisation.
  2. Form a powerful coalition – get a team together, with influential members who believe in the change too.
  3. Create a vision for change – what are the values at the core of the change? Summarise the vision so everyone can grasp it easily.  
  4. Communicate the vision – talk about it... a lot! Bring it into day to day communications, address concerns openly and honestly.
  5. Remove barriers – is anyone still resisting the change? Are there processes or working hierarchies in the way?  These obstacles need to be removed.
  6. Create quick wins – create short term tangible targets everyone can see. Build in rewards.
  7. Build on the change – actual change needs to be embedded, and enveloped within a continuous improvement cycle to fuel the momentum.
  8. Anchor changes in the organisational culture – it needs to become part of the very core of the business, through the communication and the way things are done.

Join me in this change discussion – please add your comments on Kotter’s theory or give some thought to any of my questions below:

Is your organisation going through a period of change?

Can you recognise Kotter’s steps in this change? If so, can you give example(s)?

Are any of Kotter’s steps missing from your experience of change in your organisation?

What is/was the impact?

Can you share examples of effective change in your organisation?

Do you have any other change theories you would like to share?

I'd love to hear from you :)


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