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Kotter’s 8-Step Change Model

Last updated June 2016

time for change


What is Kotter’s 8-step change model?

John Paul Kotter, a Harvard professor, developed an 8-step change model in 1995. This model has been discussed in two of his books called ‘Leading Change’ and ‘The Heart of Change’ (Chapman, 2014). The eight steps of the model have been summarized below:

Create urgency

Importance for the implementation of the change needs to be highlighted so that people will be motivated to accept and participate in the implementation of the change.

Form a powerful coalition

Right people with the right skills, experience and attributes need to be on board. It is extremely difficult if not impossible, to implement the change if the team does not consist of the right people.

Create a vision for change

A vision for change is necessary which gives people a degree of hope and bring them to the table of change. Creating vision in essence is leadership.

Communicate the vision

People, who may be affected by the change, need to be involved in the change process somehow. In this connection, open communication can be very useful.

Remove obstacles

Any barriers to change need to be removed as early as possible during the change process. Managers can find a range of motivational techniques helpful to deal with any barriers to change.

Create short term wins

It may be necessary to set easy-to-achieve aims and objectives for the change. If the objectives are achievable, and realistic, people are likely to give the change a go. Extremely difficult objectives may frustrate some people.

Build on the change

There may be many challenges facing the change. Therefore, the managers must not give up. They need to encourage people consistently to develop their determination and commitment to the change. Regular updates on the change may be effective in this regard.

Anchor the changes in corporate culture

A culture of change needs to be developed in the organisation. This may be reflected in organisational activities such as recruitment, training, development, promotion and so on.

Kotter’s 8-Step Change Model is a very useful change management tool. It touches on number of important aspects of implementing a change. It is therefore good for managers or anybody managing a change to be familiar with Kotter’s model.

Further reading/references

Johnson, G., Scholes, K. and Whittington, R. (2006) Exploring Corporate Strategy: Text and Cases, 7th Edition, UK: Prentice Hall

Plunkett, W. & Attner, R. (1994) Introduction to Management. 5th edition, USA: International Thomson Publishing

Author: M Rahman

M Rahman writes extensively online and offline with an emphasis on business management, marketing, and tourism. He is a lecturer in Management and Marketing. He holds an MSc in Tourism & Hospitality from the University of Sunderland. Also, graduated from Leeds Metropolitan University with a BA in Business & Management Studies and completed a DTLLS (Diploma in Teaching in the Life-Long Learning Sector) from London South Bank University.