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


Step 6 is all about celebrating short-term wins in order to build momentum and enthusiasm for the change. Without tangible evidence that the change effort is making progress, impacted individuals and groups throughout the University can be critical that the initiative is absorbing too many resources and sceptics become increasingly difficult to convince. Enthusiasm can wane as the effort takes its toll. All of this results in declining urgency and a loss of crucial momentum. While vision, strategies and plans are good for a while, the most powerful argument is the visible proof that progress has been made.

At this stage of the process, people throughout the school/faculty/institute/unit are fully engaged and working hard to implement the change and it’s important to keep them motivated and working towards the vision. Listen to Kotter as he discusses the importance of celebrating short term wins.

Identify short-term improvements

When working with your team and key stakeholders use the following characteristics as a guide for determining what will make the most effective short-term wins to promote and celebrate:

  • Measurable - Select those with convincing improvements not vague and fuzzy
  • Visible - People need to see real evidence of the progress to validate the change effort
  • Timely - Ideally results should appear within a ninety-day timeframe (partial or progressive results are also valid)
  • Relevant to stakeholders - Ensure the improvements are valuable to the majority of your stakeholders
  • Relevant to the situation - Wins should provide a test of the vision and change plan against real conditions so they provide useful information to learn from.
Take some time to work through the various needs of your stakeholders and categorise these needs by 'importance to the stakeholder' and 'ease of implementation'. You can then prioritise which issues you will focus on. The majority of teams will choose to work on those that fit the criteria of the top right hand quadrant 'just do it', shifting to 'prioritise the gems', where resources and time permit.

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Review your change plan

Short-term results, both positive and negative, will provide useful information about the validity and the feasibility of the change initiative. Use the results to help answer the following questions and then use the response to shape the continued direction of the change plan.
  • Are the change objectives as currently defined achievable, realistic?
  • Is the plan working? What is the evidence to support or refute?
  • What can we learn and apply from our early successes, or from areas where things are working well?
  • Are the planning estimates accurate? Where should more or less time be spent?
  • What one thing would have improved results?
  • What should be stopped?
  • Who should be given more or less responsibility?
  • What should be done to ensure further success?


You know you have successfully completed this step when you have:
  • Confidence that the change plan is based on concrete evidence
  • Momentum for the change effort, with more people becoming active supporters and helpers
  • A change team with renewed motivation for the task, inspiring others to act
  • A sense of excitement as people see the changes to date being celebrated, feel the momentum and therefore want to act.

What now?

Even though you are achieving and celebrating short term wins, it's important to never let up (Step 7).


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.