March 30, 2011 in Book reviews

Leading Change (Kotter) – Part 2

Change Programme Success

In the previous post, I reflected on how change is important yet often poorly executed (with a reported 70% of change initiatives failing) and introduced John Kotter’s eight-stage process of creating major change by looking at the reasons why change initiatives fail.

Kotter points out that “Major change will not happen easily for a long list of reasons” and provides a framework of the steps required to create successful change. As with the previous post, I’ll outline some of the approach here, but there are real subtleties in the detail so you need to read the book to fully appreciate the approach.


To create major change, you need to:

Defrost a hardened status quo:

1 – Establish a sense of urgency (overcome complacency and make sure the ‘burning platform’ is well-understood)

2 – Create the guiding coalition (of people you need to champion the change so you don’t try to do it on your own)

3 – Develop a vision and strategy (a desirable and feasible picture of what the future will look like)

4 – Communicate the change vision (consistent and repeated communication, and leadership by example)

Introduce the new practices:

5 – Empower broad-based action (people can’t help you if they feel powerless to act)

6 – Generate short-term wins (to prove that things are working and create some momentum)

7 – Consolidate gains and produce more change (potentially scaling up to change across the whole organisation)

Make the changes stick:

8 – Anchor new approaches in the culture (to make things stick, not bounce back to how it was before)


Missing out any of these stages will really hinder change; It is not easy, but nor is it rocket science and leading successful change is something that, increasingly, a leader will need to be good at! If you need to lead change in one way or another, I would highly recommend “Leading Change” by John Kotter. Even if you already use this approach, there are a lot of nuggets in every chapter that you may well find on a re-read.

Of course, this is only one approach to leading change. What other models and approaches have you found helpful?

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