Step 1

Create a sense of urgency

Step 2

Form a powerful coalition

Step 3

Create the vision & strategy

Step 4

Communicate the vision & strategy

Step 5

Empower broad-based action

Step 6

Generate short-term wins

Step 7

Never let up

Step 8

Incorporate changes into the culture


Steps 1 and 2 were about creating motivation for change and bringing together people who can lead change. In Step 3, create the vision and strategy, the guiding coalition has two distinct roles:

  1. Creating a vision for change that clearly paints a picture of where we want to go; and
  2. Developing a plan to get us there.

Watch John Kotter talk through his views on how to create a powerful vision for change.

In this step in the process we use the guiding coalition to help us more fully understand the opportunities or issues that we are dealing with and bring us to a clear vision and strategy for moving forward. 

Create your vision

Once the need for change has been clarified we need to be able to explain the purpose of the change – what are we trying to achieve, or, in other words, what is the vision for the future? The success of the change will hinge on this picture of a desirable future and how it is communicated and understood. If the vision is not clearly defined, the change efforts can become confusing and take the school/faculty/institute/unit in the wrong direction.

A clear vision serves four important purposes:

  • It motivates us to take action in the right direction
  • It can be communicated quickly and clearly
  • It helps co-ordinate actions in a fast and efficient manner
  • It empowers action.

To be effective, a vision should incorporate the realities of the current situation but also set in place goals that are truly ambitious. Great leaders know how to make these ambitious goals seem achievable and meaningful. When communicating your vision, ensure you convey to your audience that it is underpinned by a strong, credible strategy; this will help them see the vision as achievable and relevant. 

The process you use to create your vision will depend somewhat on the size and scale of the proposed change. For example, the change vision for a large scale change such as a faculty review involves a Review Committee (the guiding coalition) developing a number of issues papers, inviting broad based input and then creating the vision – the Formal Proposal. 

Your vision will be appropriate to the change proposed, for example:

‘We will embrace new mobile learning technology as a way to deliver enhanced teaching outcomes for our students and increase accessibility to our courses.’

It will most likely take you a number of attempts to get the vision right, and you’ll need to have conversations with your guiding coalition and broader stakeholder group to ensure the vision is compelling and focussed.

Create your strategy

The change strategy is not the same as a detailed change management plan. A change strategy is a high-level document that considers three crucial elements:

  • The ‘content’ of the change - strategy, structure, systems, technology, business processes, products, services, or culture
  • The ‘people’ aspect of the change - people’s emotional reactions to the change changes in mindset, behaviour, and culture that your future state requires, how to engage your people in design and implementation, and how to ensure commitment and capacity to change
  • The ‘process’ component of the change  - a high-level roadmap to get you from where you are today to where you need to be to achieve results from your change.

You will flesh out your change strategy with specific actions at different levels as you move through the change process. Read the on-line resource by Anderson & Anderson from the Change Leader’s Network on Building Your Change Strategy: How to Ensure that Your Effort Is on the Right Track.

Enterprise Agreement implications

It’s important as you create your vision and strategy that you consider our obligations under our Enterprise Bargaining Agreement (EBA) with regards to change consultation. You will need to consider the scale and scope of change and engage with the Unions as appropriate through the Employee Relations Unit. It’s important to note that it is a requirement under our EBA that staff and their union representatives have the opportunity to influence decisions around proposed change. Consult the EB Checklist  and, if the proposed change is contentious or may result in job loss, you must consult with the Employee Relations Unit

Now what?

Now that we have created our vision and strategy, we need to communicate the vision and strategy (Step 4).


Anderson, L. A. & Anderson, D. (2013) Building Your Change Strategy: How to Ensure that Your Effort Is on the Right Track retrieved 27 May 2013.

Kotter, J. P. (1996). Leading change. Boston, Mass., Harvard Business School Press.         

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