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Kotter through an IIP lens

When it comes to shaping organisational change, John P. Kotter and Investors in People have a lot in common…


“The rate of change is not going to slow down anytime soon. It anything, competition in most industries will probably speed up even more in the next few decades…” John P. Kotter

There can be no doubt that today’s business leaders must be adept in leading and managing change effectively. In the UK, organisations are being forced to change the way they do business on a daily basis. Shrinking budgets, staff reductions, and customers with increasingly evolving expectations all require organisations to be adept at change - if the organisation is to survive.

The good news is that although organisations have no control over how often shifts requiring change happen, informed leaders can still have full control of how to respond.

Although there are many theories about how to lead and manage change, many of them originate from world-renowned change management guru, Dr John P. Kotter. Through 30 years of research, Kotter demonstrated that 70% of all major change efforts in organisations fail. From this insight, he developed a way to help; publishing Leading Change1 in 1996, he developed 8 Steps to ensure that businesses and their leaders were able to thrive and manage change successfully, in an ever-changing world.

Kotter’s 8 Steps

Step 1. Establish a sense of urgency. If people understand why the change is needed, they will understand the importance of acting immediately. Connect with people’s own values, creating messages that are simple and imaginative. 

Step 2. Create the guiding coalition. Assemble a group with enough power to lead the change effort, and encourage the group to work as a team.  

Step 3. Develop a change vision. Create a vision to direct the change effort, and develop clear strategies for achieving that vision.

Step 4. Communicate the vision. Make sure you communicate clearly to all employees so they understand and accept the vision and the strategy.  

Step 5. Empower broad-based action. Remove obstacles and change systems that undermine the vision. This often means encouraging risk-taking and non-traditional ideas, activities, and actions.  

Step 6. Generate short-term wins. Plan for achievements and successes that can easily be made visible to the majority, then recognise and reward employees who have been involved in making those successes happen.

Step 7. Never Let Up. Change anything that doesn't fit the vision. Recruit, promote, and develop employees who can implement the vision. Reinvigorate the process with new projects and themes.  

Step 8. Incorporating changes into the culture.  Clarify and widely share the connections between new behaviours and organisational success. Put processes in place to ensure leadership development and succession.