Of the change models available, Kotter’s 8-step model is one of the most detailed models for how to get from your current state to the post-change vision. This model specifically addresses the kinds of challenges that people attempting change in large organizations face. It has special emphasis on how to get everyone on board with the change.
Create a Sense of Urgency
In every organization, but particularly in organizations that are large, there are always so many things going on and so many things competing for corporate resources. The first battle in getting your change accomplished is to get it on the agenda and to get it prioritized.
Create a Coalition
The larger the organization is, the less likely it is that you’ll be able to accomplish your objectives on your own. Kotter points out that coalitions don’t just automatically happen – people aren’t likely to randomly rally around your cry for change. You must be intentional about gathering the people that you need to support you on the change effort.
Create a Vision
One of the most often criticized yet still essential aspects of change is creating a vision for people to know what they’re shooting for. When it’s John F. Kennedy proposing to a joint session of the United States Congress that we should put a man on the Moon by the end of the decade, it’s great. In part because it was a clearly defined vision, and in part because we accomplished the goal. In many organizations, the visions for the outcome after the change aren’t clear and rarely do they come true in the form they were originally expressed in. The perceived need to be vague to avoid accountability in whether the vision is achieved or not often unconsciously prevents leaders from expressing their vision so clearly.
Communicate the Vision
Having the vision is one thing, ensuring that everyone knows about it is another. While this roughly corresponds to the ADKAR Awareness and Desire phases, the intent of this step is that the vision is communicated clearly to everyone in the organization and that it resonates with them.
When viewed from afar, obstacles seem small and unimportant. However, when viewed from the person who must confront the obstacle, they can often seem huge. In this step, Kotter advocates removing the obstacles that will get in the way of the desired behavior.
Create Short-Term Wins
While most change takes time, most people are impatient. While they want to see the results that the change will bring soon, they’ll often accept indications that the change will be successful. Kotter encourages you to look for opportunities to create short-term wins that others can see as indicators that the long-term successes are possible.
Build on the Short-Term Wins
With a few short-term wins in place, Kotter suggests that building on those successes helps to develop the momentum the change project will need going forward. Here, building on the wins may be replicating the wins in other areas of the business or leveraging the wins from one area to resource (fund) changes in other parts of the organization.
Anchor the Changes in the Culture
Like other change models, including Lewin and ADKAR, Kotter finishes with the efforts to reinforce the changes so that they become a permanent part of the corporate culture instead of something that is only done temporarily and then are quickly forgotten.
Kotter’s model is focused on the aspects of organizational politics that take on their own importance in large organizations, but they are useful considerations for even the smallest organizations.