Change Management WalkMe TeamUpdated March 17, 2021

This Kotter Change Management Checklist Is The Best Tool You’ll Find Online

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This Kotter Change Management Checklist Is The Best Tool You’ll Find Online

You’re spearheading a new change initiative, but you’re not sure where to start.

Well, it’s not so much the start that’s the problem. It’s remembering all the elements you need to cover to make the change a success.

Not being thorough about even one aspect of change management can lead to failure. Which is why many change professionals use the Kotter change management 8-step process.

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A step-by-step process for change management certainly removes much of the stress and uncertainty. But each step requires multiple actions and techniques in order to progress through the stages.

So there is still a lot to remember.

A list of things to action can erase any further doubts you might have about making the change work. In this post, I’m going to share with you the only Kotter change management checklist you’ll ever need.

The Kotter change management model

There are a couple of different versions of the Kotter change management model out there. Below are the eight steps provided by the Kotter Inc website.

  1. Create a sense of urgency (for change)
  2. Build a guiding coalition
  3. Form a strategic vision and initiatives
  4. Enlist a volunteer army
  5. Enable action by removing barriers
  6. Generate short-term wins
  7. Sustain acceleration
  8. Institute change

The basic Kotter change management checklist

Below is a great Kotter change management checklist. But it’s very basic. In reality, you could (and probably should) have a checklist for each step of the Kotter model.


Source: Organizational Excellence

The first thing I’d point out about this checklist is that it needs to be read in conjunction with the 8-step process as outlined by Kotter Inc. This is the version I recapped earlier.

You’ll notice that a couple of the steps are slightly different, step 4 in particular. So this is a good opportunity to add value to your own Kotter change management checklist.

Kotter’s updated step 4 talks about enlisting a volunteer army. By contrast, step 4 in the above checklist is less action specific. It refers only to communicating the vision for buy-in.

So, the smart change manager would add “enlisting a volunteer army” to their to-do list for this step.

The ultimate Kotter change management checklist

As mentioned previously, you really need a checklist of actions for each step in the Kotter process.

Step 1 checklist

  • Examine the external market and assess the need for change
  • Identify and articulate the crisis scenario — the “burning platform”
  • Develop a bold, aspirational “opportunity” statement
  • Draft a robust business case
  • Consider using external resources for a fresh perspective
  • Are there any figures or goals to support the sense of urgency?
  • Gauge stakeholder feelings about the change
  • Identify where resistance and other threats may be encountered
  • Use a variety of methods to reach out to stakeholders
  • Develop your communications plan
  • Persuade at least ¾ of the organization the status quo is unacceptable
  • Do you understand all the change risks and opportunities?

Step 2 checklist

  • Identify the real leaders within your organization
  • Form an influential, authoritative, skilled Steering Committee
  • Form an experienced, energetic, communicative Implementation Team
  • Form an enthusiastic Support Team with excellent people skills
  • Ensure these people can meet and take action unhindered
  • Install the common goal within your guiding coalition
  • Allocate appropriate resources and roles to them

Step 3 checklist

  • Articulate your vision for the future
  • Is it SMART?
  • Document the strategy to achieving that future
  • Update communications plan — is it appropriate?

Step 4 checklist

  • Actively respond to questions and engage with stakeholders about concerns
  • Ensure you know how stakeholders feel about the vision
  • Think outside the box about media and methods to communicate the vision
  • Enlist a volunteer army to champion the change vision
  • Ensure the guiding coalition and other leaders are living the vision
  • Are all managers on board and communicating the vision positively?  

Step 5 checklist

  • Monitor for resistance and offer appropriate support
  • Ensure there is a strong shared sense of purpose throughout the organization
  • Identify and deal with all potential blockages to the change vision
  • Communicate updates positively and consistently
  • Do stakeholders know what is expected of them?
  • Clarify how you will regularly review the process of implementation
  • Are the guiding coalition and volunteer army doing what they should be?

Step 6 checklist

  • Identify process and/or performance wins
  • Quickly and consistently reward and communicate success
  • Monitor energy and positivity levels in all stakeholders
  • Put plans in place to maintain high motivation and morale

Step 7 checklist

  • Remind everyone of the project deliverables
  • Set goals to maintain momentum
  • Initiate change after change until the vision becomes reality
  • Be creative about fresh ideas to sustain high energy
  • Use short-term wins to tackle more/bigger changes
  • Maintain appropriate consequences for success and non-compliance
  • Anchor the volunteer army in roles where they can continue to facilitate
  • Ensure the guiding coalition and all leaders continue positive change communications and behaviors
  • Identify and deal with any systems, staff, structures, skills etc that must be aligned
  • Incorporate the change into relevant people and HR processes

Step 8 checklist

  • Anchor the change into organizational values
  • Communicate the change to new hires
  • Recognise the change formally and at the highest level
  • Connect the change to improved organizational performance
  • Allow enough time for the change to become entrenched

The Kotter change management process can be oversimplified. It’s often reduced to eight esoteric ideals. But combine it with a thorough checklist like this one and you give yourself every chance at success.

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