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


Forming a powerful coalition is about making sure you have a team with the expertise to assist with achieving the outcomes you need from the change initiative. Without the right people to help us, the change effort can stall and we can miss important perspectives and information.

In this step in the process we start to involve as many people as we can, at many levels and across many parts of the University, to enable us to fully understand the opportunities or issues that we are dealing with and help bring us to a better understanding of possible ways forward. 

Watch John Kotter talk through some of the issues related to forming a guiding coalition.

The role of the coalition

The guiding coalition is your group of change leaders, and has a very important role to play. The guiding coalition is involved in setting direction for the change, identifying options and making decisions about where energy should be focused, as well as mustering support and resources from other parts of the organisation.

Creating the team

Creating the team is about putting together a group with enough influence and energy to lead the change, and getting the group to work together as a team. No one person, no matter how competent, is capable of single-handedly:

  • developing the right vision
  • communicating it to large numbers of people
  • eliminating all of the key obstacles
  • generating short term wins
  • leading and managing multiple change projects, and 
  • anchoring new approaches deep in an organization’s culture.

Putting together the right team to lead a change initiative is critical to its success. That team must have the right composition, a significant level of trust, and a shared objective. You can find effective change leaders throughout the University – they don't necessarily follow the traditional hierarchy. To lead change, you need to bring together a team of influential people whose relevance comes from a variety of sources, including job role, status, expertise, and representation from different levels of the organisation affected by the change or who can help with the change. These people should be committed to supporting the change from beginning to end.

Involve supporting areas

Supporting areas have a critical role to play in any change initiative and should be engaged early in the process. Depending on the the nature of the change and the extent of what is being proposed, supporting areas you involve may include the following: 

They can all contribute to the success of a change initiative and should be consulted and engaged from the initial stages onwards.

Building a coalition that can make change happen

Consider the following questions about your proposed coalition:

  • Do we have people with strong positional power, broad expertise and high credibility?
  • Do we have people with leadership skills?
  • Is there broad based representation?
  • Is the size and composition of the coalition commensurate with the issue/opportunity?

Enterprise Agreement implications

It is important to note that the Guiding Coalition is formed prior to final decisions about the scope and scale of change are made – in fact, that is one of their key initial tasks. Even at this early stage, however, often some sense of the scope and scale starts to emerge and to be discussed. If it becomes apparent that the change will likely be contentious or perhaps result in job loss, you should discuss your early thinking with the Employee Relations Unit

Now what?

Now that we have our Guiding Coalition, we can use their input to create our vision and strategy (Step 3).


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.