Overview of Kotter Organizational Change

Recently, I discussed the two primary change theories that are widely adopted, one being the original Lewin model on which any custom model or new model tends to be based, and also the heavily adopted Kotter organizational change model as well.

I didn’t go into extreme details about this model, because I knew I was going to do this piece. And that’s what we’re going to do today. We’re going to just that now.

This will be a down to earth look at this, not a clinical overview. That’s what our mission is, here.

The Kotter Organizational Change Model in a Nutshell:

It’s built on Lewin’s theories, but the similarities between it and the archaic model are pretty slim at this point. Kotter’s model is more sophisticated, breaking the change process into eight orderly steps that allow deeper predefined strategy and prioritization of aspects just glossed over in Lewin’s model.

Classically, you’re supposed to follow these steps in the precise order specified at all costs, and never skip any single one of them. Well, I’m not an apologist for that in this unpredictable century, but for the sake of being accurate to the actual model, I’ll say we’re acknowledging that as truth here.

Step 1: Need Creation

As with customer experience, need creation is important, and this is analogous to the initial overcoming of resistance to change. In this step you are discovering a problem and a change that can solve it, and you’re building exposition both to the stakeholders and members of the changing organization, of the benefit and desirability of this.

Step 2: Go Team!

In the next step, you build sponsorship both through the authority of higher ups, and you build a supporting team of people native to the subjected organization, all of whom support you “publicly” and in application.

Steps 3 and 4: A Plan and Communicating It

Now, you know the basic change that needs to be made, and the problem it intends to solve. Here, you lay out exactly the nature of the change, and how it will actually, causally enable the improvement. You pick your training models, and you work out your basic agenda. You make sure that everyone else is on the same page as you with this as well.

Step 5: No Mountain High Enough

All obstacles to change must now be removed. Unfreezing must be absolute either by genuine willingness or simple conformity out of valuing one’s job. All resources and time needed must be allocated and ready.

Step 6: Short Term Goals

Now, you get into the smaller repeating cycles of setting smaller goals which add up to the summary total change. These steps must be paced in obtainable spans and scales, which also do not stall out the organization subjected to the changes.

Step 7: Building

When changes are implemented, they should be the foundations for further change, like accumulating momentum. This means your order of different things changed must make sense in regards to this happening.

Step 8: Solidarity

Now, when changes are complete, and training has seen its course completely through, you must make the change permanent. It must become habit, not mentally enforced. It must be part of corporate culture, meaning no other rules, regulations or other things in place may conflict with it whatsoever.

You will find that going through solidarity like this will show many more needs for change elsewhere. It’s like that.

But, this is the Kotter organizational change model in a nutshell. It’s pretty simple to understand, but it takes a lot of skill to implement this.

Christopher Smith
Chris is the Lead Author & Editor of Change Blog. Chris established the Change blog to create a source for news and discussion about some of the issues, challenges, news, and ideas relating to Change Management.
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