Facilitating Change Management with Kotter’s 8-step Model

Kotter Change Management

Let’s talk about Kotter’s 8-step Model for change management. Albert Einstein has a beautiful saying: “The measure of intelligence is the ability to change.” But change management can be a daunting task for business leaders. Whether it’s a small-scale change or a large-scale transformation initiative, navigating change management can be challenging.

In this article, I explain John P. Kotter’s 8-step Model for change management and how it helps with change management and enablement.

This article explains John P. Kotter’s 8-step Model for change management and how it helps with change management and enablement. #ITSM #ServiceDesk #ITIL4 Share on X

Learning from change management failures

Many change management efforts begin with good intentions but produce poor results. As frustration builds after an unsuccessful change attempt, the change beneficiaries face the painful question: What happened?

There are many potential reasons for poor results from a large-scale change effort. However, many times, failure comes from the lack of initial success. The lack of visible and significant progress can kill change.

Therefore, senior leadership must create short-term victories to sustain the change effort in the long term. This approach is part of Kotter’s 8-step Model.

An introduction to change management

Change management encapsulates the planning, implementation, and monitoring of changes to achieve organizational goals. In today’s fast-paced business environment, change management is essential to stay competitive and adapt to changing market conditions.

Change management includes various activities such as identifying the need for change, formulating a plan, communicating the change, and monitoring the progress of the change.

In addition to change management (now called change enablement), organizational change management is a general management practice in ITIL 4. It focuses on changing people’s behavior and culture for success. People are the core of organizational change management.

Therefore, it must ensure the creation of clear and relevant goals, strong and committed leadership, willing and ready participation, and sustainable improvement. Furthermore, organizational transformation is not an overnight achievement but a journey. For effective organizational change management, there are many models that an organization can adopt. One of these models is Kotter’s 8-step Model.

John P. Kotter’s 8-step Model Explained

John P. Kotter’s 8-step Model for change management is a framework for managing change in organizations. Kotter’s 8-step Model provides a comprehensive approach to change management and has been widely adopted globally. The Kotter 8-step Model includes the following steps:

  1. Create a sense of urgency
  2. Create a coalition
  3. Formulate a strategic and innovative vision
  4. Communicate the vision for change
  5. Enable actions by removing barriers
  6. Create short-term wins
  7. Maintain momentum
  8. Anchor the change.

Each of these Kotter 8-step Model steps is covered in more detail below.

Kotter’s 8-step Model provides a comprehensive approach to change management & has been widely adopted globally. This article explains its 8 steps. #ITSM #ServiceDesk #ITIL4 Share on X

Kotter’s 8-step Model Step 1: Create a sense of urgency

This step in Kotter’s 8-step Model includes identifying the need for change ( and organizational change management) and communicating the urgency to all stakeholders. It is essential to ensure that everyone understands the importance of the change, and the sense of urgency helps create the initial motivation to get things moving.

The following can be used to create a sense of urgency:

  • Identify existing threats and scenarios and show what these will mean in the future
  • Identify opportunities that may be exploited
  • Communicate honestly with people and provide compelling reasons to get people talking
  • Cite requests from customers, external stakeholders, and people active in the issue to strengthen the change argument.

For change management to succeed, Kotter suggests that you must work really hard at this first step – spending significant time and energy creating urgency before moving on to the next steps.

Kotter’s 8-step Model Step 2: Create a coalition

This step in Kotter’s 8-step Model includes identifying key stakeholders and building a team to lead the change initiative. This need requires strong leadership and visible support from key people in the organization because managing change is not enough; you must lead it.

Effective change leaders can be found throughout your organization, and this doesn’t necessarily follow traditional organizational hierarchies. A coalition or team of influential people can have influence that comes from various sources, including job title, position, expertise, and political importance. Once formed, the “change coalition” must work as a team and continue to create urgency and momentum around the need for change.

To form a coalition:

  • Ensure you have a good mix of people from different departments and levels
  • Examine weaknesses among the coalition team
  • Create an emotional commitment between the involved people.
From creating a sense of urgency to creating a coalition, this article explains each step of Kotter’s 8-step Model for change management/enablement. #ITSM #ServiceDesk #ITIL4 Share on X

Kotter’s 8-step Model Step 3: Formulate a strategic and innovative vision

This step in Kotter’s 8-step Model includes creating a clear and compelling vision for the future and identifying the initiatives needed to achieve the vision. The vision must be communicated to all stakeholders to ensure everyone can work toward the same goal.

When you start thinking about change, you’ll probably have a lot of great ideas and solutions floating around in your head. Link these concepts into an overall vision that people can easily understand and remember. A clear vision will help everyone know why you’re asking them to do something.

To form a strategic vision:

  • Determine the primary value of the change
  • Ensure your change coalition members can succinctly describe the vision
  • Develop a strategy to implement this vision.

Kotter’s 8-step Model Step 4: Communicate the vision for change

Don’t just hold special meetings to communicate the vision. Instead, talk about it every chance you get. When you keep it fresh in everyone’s mind, they will remember and respond to it.

It’s also important to do more than “talk” because what you do is much more believable than what you say. In other words, you should show what behavior you expect from others.

To communicate with an organizational change management perspective, do the following:

  • Address people’s concerns and frustrations openly and honestly
  • Apply the vision to all elements of operations – from training to performance reviews
  • Define everything based on that vision so people know they are taking steps toward it.

Kotter’s 8-step Model Step 5: Enable actions by removing barriers

This step in Kotter’s 8-step Model includes identifying and removing any obstacles that may prevent the change initiative from moving forward. Potential barriers can include processes, systems, culture, and even people.

If you’ve followed Kotter’s 8-step Model’s steps and reached this point in the change (and organizational change management) process, you’ve communicated your vision and its value at all levels of the organization. But obstacles are always in front of the successful implementation of change.

To empower actions and remove obstacles:

  • Identify or hire change leaders to play a key role in delivering change
  • Look at the organizational structure, job descriptions, and performance and compensation systems to ensure they align with the vision
  • Recognize and reward people for making change
  • Identify people who resist change and help them see what they need to buy into the change
  • Take quick action to remove obstacles (human or otherwise).

Kotter’s 8-step Model Step 6: Create short-term wins

This step in Kotter’s 8-step Model includes identifying and celebrating early successes to build momentum and maintain motivation. A short-term win can help demonstrate the benefits of a change plan and satisfy stakeholders.

This short-term win step is crucial because it incentivizes everyone involved in the change. It helps to write three questions to answer on a board:

  1. What?
  2. Why?
  3. How?

And a short-term win must meet the following three criteria:

  1. Your success must be unambiguous
  2. Success should be tangible and visible throughout the organization
  3. Success must be clearly related to the effort to make that change.

Little motivates people more than success. But short-term success means creating short-term goals, not just long-term goals.

'Little motivates people more than success. But short-term success means creating short-term goals, not just long-term goals.' #ITSM #ServiceDesk #ITIL4 Share on X

For short-term wins:

  • Don’t choose short-term goals that are expensive and time-consuming
  • Analyze the pros and cons of your goals thoroughly because if you don’t succeed with a short-term goal, it can hurt the entire change initiative
  • Reward people who help you achieve your goals.

Kotter’s 8-step Model Step 7: Maintain momentum

This step in Kotter’s 8-step Model includes building on the momentum created by short-term wins and continuing to drive the change initiative forward. The quick wins are just the start of achieving long-term change.

To help maintain momentum:

  • After each win, analyze what went right and what needs improvement
  • Set goals to continue the progress you’ve made
  • Bring in new change agents and leaders for your change coalition to keep things fresh.
Using Kotter’s Model can help ensure effective change management & realize the benefits of the change initiative. This article explains. #ITSM #ServiceDesk #ITIL4 Share on X

Kotter’s 8-step Model Step 8: Anchor the change

It’s essential to ensure that the change initiative is sustainable and that its benefits are realized in the long term. This step includes embedding change in the organization’s culture and processes.

To help anchor the change:

  • Talk about progress – tell success stories and repeat other stories you hear
  • Remind new employees of the ideals and values of change when hiring and training
  • Publicly recognize key members of your core change coalition and ensure that the rest of the staff—new and old—remember their roles
  • Develop plans to replace key change leaders as they move on.

Kotter’s 8-step Model for change management has several advantages. The Model provides a holistic approach to change management and ensures that all aspects of the change initiative are considered. Kotter’s 8-step Model also provides a framework for stakeholder communication and engagement, which is essential to the success of any change initiative. Using Kotter’s Model can help ensure effective change management and realize the benefits of the change initiative.

Further Reading

If you enjoyed this change management article, then here are some other articles you may find useful:

Please use the website search capability to find more helpful ITSM articles on topics such as service management strategy, why change initiatives fail, improving the status quo, managing transformational efforts, project management, change management plans, successful change management tips, team member development, improving business processes, management team buy-in, organizational culture change, communications planning, Lewin’s change management model, and delivering desired outcomes.

Hadi Ahmadi (Soroush)
MedaNet Company at CEO

Soroush is a ITSM consultant and helping organizations to start, implement and develop effective services strategies. He is a leader, ITIL lecturer, and consultant with +15 years of activity to business strategy. Also, Soroush is a storyteller, poet and novelist and wrote and published a few books about specialized fields: ITSM,ITOM,ITAM, ESM and Digital transformation in Persian language.

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