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Kotter's 8-Step Model

Business Management and Enterprise (Year 12) - People (U3)

Kanwal Singh

John Kotter developed a framework that organisations can use to help manage their change process.

Note: The exact names of the steps have changed throughout the years. To ensure up-to-date information, visit Kotter International's website -

  1. Establishing a sense of urgency – this involves helping others to see the need for a change through a bold statement. Overall, it helps others see the importance of acting immediately.

  2. Create a guiding coalition – this can be achieved through change agents, who are well-experienced and well-trusted people who can help coordinate the change. They will try to guide the idea through the entrenched internal resistance to change and will anchor it throughout the organisation. They are also called idea champions or change advocates. Overall, this is the stage at which a business assembles a group with the ability to lead the change and encourage the organisation to work as a team.

  3. Developing a strategic vision – this involves clarifying how the future will be different from the past. It also involves discussions on how that future can be made a reality, through initiatives linked directly to the vision.

  4. Enlist a volunteer army – large-scale adoption of change can only occur when many people rally around a common opportunity. Volunteers from around the organisation and perhaps externally must be brought in to help drive change.

  5. Enable action by removing barriers – removing barriers, such as inefficient processes and hierarchies, allows everyone to work without hindrances. This can help generate real impact.

  6. Generating-short term wins – small wins lead to results. These wins need to be acknowledged and appreciated by the management. It is better if this is done early on, as it motivates and energises workers to persist.

  7. Sustain acceleration – it is important to build momentum after the initial successes. This prevents burnout and ensures employees continue to focus towards the change.

  8. Institute change – it is important to articulate the connections between the new behaviours and organisational success. This should be done until these behaviours become strong enough to replace old behaviours.

Kotter’s model is often easier to understand when applied to a case study.

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