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


The final stage in Kotter’s eight stage process for creating major change is to make the change permanent - to embed it in the culture of the organisation, making the change "the way we do things around here". During this phase you should be focused on:
  • Persisting, monitoring and measuring progress and not declaring victory prematurely
  • Recognising, rewarding and modelling the new behaviour
  • Using champions of the change to tell their story

 Read Kotter’s The Key to Changing Organizational Culture.

Tips for incorporating changes into the culture

  • Cultural change comes last, not first
  • You must be able to prove that the new way is superior to the old
  • The success must be visible and well communicated
  • You must reinforce new norms and values with incentives and rewards – including promotions
  • Reinforce the culture with every new employee

Key questions

  • What are you doing to keep old behaviour from creeping back?
  • What are the key aspects of the UQ culture that should reinforce your change?
  • What policies, procedures and systems do you need to build your change into in order to make it part of standard practice?
  • What will you (or others) do to ensure the change you have delivered takes root and becomes part of the new culture?
  • Are you and your guiding teams modelling the new behaviour and reinforcing/recognising others?

Assess behavioural change

Is the change sticking? Determine the extent to which the new behaviour is sticking and, as a result, the probability that the new culture will emerge.


Indicators of a behavioural shift
Indicators that behaviour is not changing 
Change leaders are sought for advice and input
Change leaders are criticised
Results of the changes are used to evaluate how best to continue or improve
Benefits of the change are challenged, questioned or discounted
Emphasis is on what needs to be adjusted, revised or improved
Emphasis is on what can be maintained or kept
More decisions are made consistent with the vision and the marketplace
More decisions are made consistent with the historical success and past practices
People seek to understand what they need to do and what is expected of them to be successful in the new environment
People act consistently with the way they (or others) have been successful in the past
People begin to leave because they acknowledge they don't fit in anymore
People leave because they are frustrated with the lack of take up with the new way of doing things
Change leaders are finding support and resources for more changes
Change resisters continue to block resources and support

Putting it all together

We’ve now worked through the 8 Steps of the Kotter change process. Watch this video that shows how it all comes together in the example of Carl’s Car Wash.

Want more?

Go back to the Guide to Organisational Change front page for more information and resources, including tip sheets, checklists and case studies.

Read some of Kotter's latest thinking and how the 8 step model has been updated to incorporate the current organisational context and rate of change - Kotter's Accelerate 8 Step Process


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.
Kotter, J. P. (2014). Accelerate: Building strategic agility for a faster-moving world. Boston, Mass., Harvard Business School Press