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

 

You’re making progress and realisation of the vision is getting closer, but quick wins are just the beginning. Often, change efforts fail because people stop driving deeper change too soon – so it’s essential to keep supporting people to make more and larger changes that will stick. Whenever you let up before the job is done, critical momentum can be lost and regression may soon follow.

Read and watch what John Kotter has to say about why change efforts can lose momentum.
 
Remember that the change process is not as linear as the steps may suggest; you need to continue to create urgency, engage and revitalise your guiding coalition, revise your strategy, and ensure actions are being completed and celebrated.

What you should see in Step 7

In a successful major change initiative, by step 7 you will begin to see: 
  • More projects being added
  • Additional people being brought in to help with the changes
  • Senior leadership focused on giving clarity to an aligned vision and shared purpose
  • Employees empowered at all levels to lead projects
  • Reduced interdependencies between areas
  • Constant effort to keep urgency high
  • Consistent show of proof that the new way is working

Change leadership

Leadership is invaluable in surviving Step 7. Instead of declaring victory and moving on, these transformational leaders will launch more and more projects to drive the change deeper into the organization. They will also take the time to ensure that all the new practices are firmly grounded in the organization’s culture. Managers, by their nature, think in shorter timeframes. It is up to leaders to steer the course for the long-term. Without sufficient and consistent leadership, the change will stall, and succeeding in a rapidly changing world becomes highly problematic.

Listen to John Kotter’s views on the difference between Change Management and Change Leadership

Continue to remove or minimise barriers

The four main barriers that often need removing or minimising are:
 
Structure
Skills
Systems
Resistant managers / staff

 

Review the barriers and gauge which are the most important ones to address for your particular change. You can then determine the most workable solution for your change context.

 

Structure
Examples:
  • Multiple areas must work together but the needed resources and authority are fragmented throughout the organisation
  • Functional silos drive different focus and priorities
  • Teams within departments don't communicate with each other
  • People are told they can act and then find that middle managers must approve decisions
Suggestions:
  • Align authority with responsibility. Ensure that position descriptions accurately reflect the power to accomplish the tasks for which people are accountable
  • Clarify priorities for people who report to multiple groups. Take time to resolve competing priorities/ initiatives
  • Make it clear to all groups how they will be measured and monitored
  • Create a structure for the initiative that is consistent with the vision. The vision should drive responsibilities, resources and information towards the goals
  • Ensure that people are not restricted from making decisions and implementing action that they need to take to support the change effort

 

Skills
Examples:
  • The new environment often requires attitudes, knowledge and skills that are different from those needed in the past
  • A lack of necessary skills can slow or even stall needed action
  • Habits built over the years may have lost their relevance in the new context, but nevertheless are very hard to break
Suggestions:
  • Explicitly define the new behaviours and identify the knowledge, skills, abilities and attitudes that will be needed to succeed in the new working environment
  • Visit other sites or teams where these skills and abilities are practiced
  • Ask people what skills they have and what they will need to be successful
  • Test how the new skills will work in the new environment
  • Identify those with the skills and attitudes to flourish in the new environment and use them to mentor or support others
  • Provide appropriate training to develop skills and attitudes, at the right time, for the right skills using the appropriate approach

 

Systems
Examples:
  • Performance is measured on criteria that are not aligned with the desired results
  • Informal communication supports old behaviours and values
  • Systems reward behaviours that are no longer important or relevant
  • Promotions are based on loyalty to individuals
Suggestions:
  • Ensure performance appraisals include elements that demonstrate commitment to the vision
  • Publicly praise actions that support the new way of working
  • Make promotion decisions open and objective
  • Ensure recruiting and hiring processes select those who are aligned with the new environment

 

Resistant managers/staff

Resistance can be waiting in the wings to re-assert itself. Even if you are successful in the early stages, you may just drive resisters underground where they wait for an opportunity to emerge when you least expect it. They may celebrate with you and then suggest taking a break to savor the victory. Be aware of subtle resistance that can still have a major impact on your change process - and counter it by never letting up!

Examples:
  • Withholding information or resources from those who need them
  • Undermining the credibility of those proposing and driving the change effort
  • Refusing to participate in subtle ways
  • Micro managing the groups activities
  • Fostering a climate of political back biting and "us versus them"
  • Treating any change effort by a team member as disloyalty
  • Controlling all decisions and incoming/outgoing communications
Suggestions:
  • Confront resistance directly one on one; remember groups don't resist, individuals do
  • Engage resisters in a sincere and honest discussion about their concerns
  • Provide resisters with opportunities to resolve the problems
  • Always deal with people in a fair, straight forward and timely manner
  • If alterations in management are necessary proceed in a way that is clear, honest, direct and timely

 

What now?

The change process isn't complete until it's incorporated into the culture (Step 8).
 

References

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.