Kotter's 8-Step Change Model of Management

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  1. 1:06 Establishing a Sense of Urgency
  2. 2:25 Creating the Guiding Coalition
  3. 3:26 Creating and Communicating…
  4. 5:12 Empowering Broad-Based Action
  5. 6:51 Producing More Change
  6. 8:07 Anchor the Changes
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Taught by

Sherri Hartzell

Sherri has taught college business and communication courses. She also holds three degrees including communications, business, educational leadership/technology.

This lesson details the eight steps involved in Kotter's eight-step change model including: create urgency, form a powerful coalition, create change vision, communicate the vision, remove obstacles, create short-term wins, build on the change, and anchor the change in organizational culture.

Kotter's Model of Organizational Change

Today's organizations are faced with an increasing need to adapt to new realities that almost always result in some organizational change. The process of implementing change in organizations is often complex and challenging for most managers. To help managers successfully implement change, it is recommended that they use some version of a change model to increase their chances of successful implementation. While there are many models for change management, most of them originate from the work of John Kotter's eight-step change model. Specific steps in the model include: establish a sense of urgency, create the guiding coalition, develop a vision and strategy, communicate the change vision, empower broad-based action, generate short-term wins, consolidate gains to produce more change, and anchor change in the organization's culture.

His eight-step change model includes establishing a sense of urgency.
John Kotter

Establishing a Sense of Urgency

Employee buy-inestablishing a sense of urgency

Maintenance of the organization's status quo should be viewed as a threat to the employees' futures, making members more likely to embrace the change. In other words, employees should feel uneasy about doing the bare minimum when competitors are off creating new products or services; rather, employees should find security in innovation and express a willingness to accept change. Managers should take the time to have an open and honest conversation about where the organization stands in the marketplace and provide compelling reasons for what needs to be done to secure the longevity of the organization.

Creating the Guiding Coalition

Once individuals feel that there is a need for change, their energy needs to be directed and guided so that the change process can begin. Change is often chaotic; however, when that change is directed, it affords organizational members a road map and a destination. Managers who are tasked with introducing and managing the change process need to create the guiding coalition by selecting and recruiting a team of individuals who will be capable of carrying out the change. Such individuals might be chosen for their authority, level of expertise, resources, knowledge, or skills. The manager will then need to identify who will be responsible for what during the change process; the goal is to have a good mix of people so that any weaknesses in team members can be offset by the strengths of others. It is also recommended that managers work on team building to strengthen the guiding coalition as a unit.

Creating and Communicating a Vision for Change

As a manager, simply telling your employees about the change is not enough to really motivate them to do anything. Rather, they need to have a clear understanding of what the change is, why it's needed, and who it will affect and how the organization will get there. Creating a change vision allows the manager to provide employees with a clear understanding of what the change is all about. Effective visions emphasize the change and aspirations for growth. Maintaining a competitive advantage requires organizational leadership to promote greater strategic flexibility within the organization. Strategic flexibility rests on several factors, but the two most critical are the leader's ability to manage change and develop a vision, which can be translated into a cascading strategic plan. Essentially, managers need to paint a picture of the desirable future and provide a road map for how to get there.

Once created, a manager must communicate the vision because at the end of the day, a change vision is only as good as a leader's ability to communicate it to organizational members in a way that motivates people to change. When individuals do not understand what a change vision means to them personally and to the entire organization, acceptance becomes very challenging. Employees must be able to see how the vision for change will affect and benefit them as an individual. The manager ought to be seen living the vision in a way that it becomes a part of everything he or she does, offering clarification and support along the way. Doing so will ensure the vision is communicated to all members of the organization.

Empowering Broad-Based Action

Kotter believed that empowerment through broad-based action was a fundamental component of successful change. As such, obstacles that block the change vision or disempower individuals with unrealistic and unattainable goals must be addressed. Such barriers lie in supervisors, subordinates, information systems, and a lack of knowledge or skills. Throughout the change process, managers must be sure to identify and remove these potential barriers to efficiency. Removing barriers for change involves thinking strategically about the possible resistance that management or the guiding coalition might experience, human or otherwise. Doing so will empower those needed to execute the change vision and keep the change process moving in a positive direction. To accomplish this, change leadership will need to be identified and acquired specifically to deliver the change and nothing more; the current organizational structure will need to be examined and evaluated - including current job responsibilities, performance, and compensation systems - to make certain that these systems are aligned well to the change vision; recognize and reward those involved in the change process when milestones are reached; conduct self-assessment often to check for change resistance and address those issues immediately; and when barriers are discovered, take action quickly to refocus change efforts.

Producing More Change

Planning for and generating short-term wins is needed to maintain enthusiasm and momentum to keep the change initiative going. Managers will need to communicate specific performance goals that organizational members will be responsible for achieving during the change process. Such performance goals must align with the change process goals and expectations. Once a performance goal is met, a manager is responsible for acknowledging and celebrating accomplishments with the rest of the team. Recognition should include the work it took to accomplish that goal and what the completion of that goal means for the rest of the change process.

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