There is now an extensive body of respected research that informs us of the best ways to implement change that can lead to positive outcomes for universities and their people. As a world leading University, it is important that we ‘practice what we teach’. This means that our internal practices for leading change should reflect the approaches, models and theories that we teach as best practie for our MBA or MPsychOrg students, for example.

What is the guide for?

The purpose of this Guide and accompanying online resources is to provide University staff with an overview of best practice change management methodologies based on rigorous research. The aim of the Guide is to assist in the development of change strategies that complement your work area and its operations (including change project planning), whilst supporting our people through change. The Guide provides general, practical considerations that encourage engagement with relevant people in the change process, thereby allowing the utilisation of individual and customised approaches that have regard to the operational requirements of the University.

How does it work?

The University of Queensland Guide to Leading Organisational Change is structured to lead you through the 8 step process of successful change implementation as outlined by John P Kotter, an eminent thinker in leadership and change management (Kotter 1996, Kotter and Cohen 2002). The Kotter 8 step process not only assists us in understanding the steps involved in successful change processes, but also guides thinking around our specific approach to creating major change. Each step of this process incorporates an understanding of how people approach and respond to change, based on how they see, feel and then embrace change. Each of the steps is supported with links to online resources, tools and contextual information pertinent to the University of Queensland’s organisational environment. These resources are applicable to all scales of change, large to small, and can be tailored to suit the level of change you are implementing.

Organisational context

This guide has been developed to support the University’s values, and has been developed taking into consideration the University’s obligations as outlined in the UQ Enterprise Agreement – be sure to follow the Industrial Requirements for Organisational Change checklist to ensure that your change process is EB compliant. Keep in mind that this is a Guide, not a policy. The relevant policy is the UQ PPL 5.43.06 Restructuring and Managing Change.
Whilst the Guide is quite comprehensive, you are not alone in leading your change initiative. For assistance, contact your local HR people, the Organisational Development Unit or the Employee Relations Unit.

About the change process

It’s important to note that although the ‘Steps’ follow in a logical order, they are not as linear as they may at first suggest. You don’t ‘finish’ Step 1 and then start Step 2, then start Step 3, etc. You may start thinking about and forming the guiding coalition (Step 2) whilst still creating the urgency for change (Step 1). The guiding coalition will change and re-form over time as the change process evolves and you become clearer about the scope and scale and who should be involved. Broad-based action (Step 5) may lead to refinements to the vision and strategy (Step 3) and new communication strategies (Step 4). The steps do provide a logical framework for you to think through the issues related to your change initiative and ensure you have a comprehensive change process.

Ready to get started?

Read on overview of the eight steps, go to Step 1: Create a sense of urgency or go back to the Guide homepage.


Kotter, J. P. (1996). Leading change. Boston, Mass., Harvard Business School Press.
Kotter, J. P. and D. S. Cohen (2002). The heart of change : real-life stories of how people change their organizations. Boston, Mass., Harvard Business School Press.