The most significant event of the 21st-century has been the COVID-19 pandemic. Not only did it change lives but also forced us to make uncomfortable decisions.

The pandemic was a clear indication that change is inevitable and the best way to tackle it is to prepare well in advance.

Many organizations found themselves at the cusp of change—whether forced or voluntary—as a result of COVID-19. Restructuring, adopting new technologies and rethinking financial strategies were some of the most important tasks undertaken by leaders.

Dr John Kotter, Professor Emeritus at Harvard University, wrote of change management and leadership in his widely-acknowledged 1996 work Leading Change. Kotter’s 8 step model of change management is a popular process followed by leaders and managers to drive change in their organizations.

Change management is critical in today’s workplace—keeping in mind the speed of technological advancements and socio-economic impact. Learn more about Kotter’s 8 step change model and how it can prepare you for setbacks and failures.

  1. Understanding The Need For Kotter’s 8 Step Model

  2. Kotter’s 8 Step Change Model

Understanding The Need For Kotter’s 8 Step Model

What drives you to take action? What moves you to accept and embrace change? Who is at the helm of this change?

In a professional setting, we’re often inspired by our leaders or managers whose words create a sense of urgency that forces us to get up and act. They decide whom to involve and what strengths to leverage for effective results. What you need is a collective, collaborative effort by the entire organization to manage change.

Think about some of the greatest speeches in history. Whether it’s Martin Luther King’s I have a dream or Jawaharlal Nehru’s A Tryst with Destiny. These speeches were like kindling to an already burning desire for change. It’s this sense of urgency that sets the pace for Kotter’s change model.

Let’s look at the eight steps of Kotter’s change model to dig deeper into this process.

Kotter’s 8 Step Change Model

Kotter’s approach to change management offered a new and refreshing perspective to how organizations and leaders can accommodate and prepare for change. Getting everyone on the same page and answering the what, how and why of change is one way to transition smoothly.

Here’s a brief overview of each of these 8 steps:

  1. Create A Sense Of Urgency

How do you ignite a need for change? You tell people the truth about things and create a sense of urgency around it. In an organization, you have to be transparent and encourage discussions, open communication and honest interactions to bring everyone on the same page. Open the floor to thoughts on market competition and what you need to do to tackle challenges. This is where you can develop strategies, identify threats and drive simulations to understand how things can potentially play out.

  1. Build A Guiding Coalition

The second thing you need is the right people who can lead by example. You need volunteers who are just as passionate and driven for the cause. Anyone who has the power to persuade and convince others is influential in change management. This is where you need to identify leaders and encourage teamwork.

  1. Form A Strategic Vision And Initiatives

Create a vision or an overall strategy that can be easily understood by everyone. It’s important to align goals to achieve them. If someone has a different idea about change than others, it can lead to unnecessary setbacks. A mission statement or summary helps streamline the process.

  1. Enlist A Volunteer Army

This step is associated with Kotter’s change model as a movement. Drive change by bringing in people who are dedicated. Communicating your vision is just as important so that those who follow you know where you stand. You can’t be doing one thing and claiming another.

  1. Enable Action By Removing Barriers

Kotter’s 8 step model explains the concept of ‘buy-in’, which means buying into the idea of urgency for change management. For successful implementation, you have to remove barriers such as people who don’t want to accept change. If someone’s resistant to change, you have to persuade them and convince them to work together.

  1. Generate Short-Term Wins

Implementing short projects to celebrate victories at regular intervals is a great way to stay motivated. People need to feel like their actions are being valued. Choose achievable targets and analyze pros and cons before setting your goals.

  1. Sustain Acceleration

Kotter’s change management model explains that you have to keep the momentum going once you achieve your first success. You shouldn’t stop too early as it can affect future projects. Once you know you’ve done something right, analyze it and find areas for improvement. There’s always room for change and you can identify opportunities to set long-term goals.

  1. Institute Change

Establishing new norms and processes is a long-drawn process. Kotter’s 8 step model ends with an idea to institute change. Cyclical efforts to incorporate change in the heart of the organization will equip you for future challenges. Discuss your values, ideas and beliefs as an organization to make sure that everyone—from senior management to new employees—are well-versed.

Kotter’s 8 step model of change is a helpful guide to track your progress and lead others. As a manager, it’s important to lead by example. What you need to do is find ways to ignite a need for change in others. Harappa’s Managing Teamwork course is the perfect foundation to practice Kotter’s approach to change management. You’ll learn about what makes an effective team and leading your team to success.


Explore topics such as the Process of Building a Team, What are Management Skills, Elements of Quality Management and Organizational Development from Harappa Diaries and understand how your workplace functions.

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