Posted by: Hysam Darwan | May 25, 2014

Eight steps to transforming your organization (according to John Kotter)

Stage 1: Establish a sense of urgency

Actions needed:

  • Examine market and competitive realities for potential crises and untapped opportunities.
  • Convince at least 75% of your managers that status quo is more dangerous than the unknown.


  • Underestimating the difficulty of driving people from their comfort zones.
  • Becoming paralyzed by risks.


Stage 2: Form a powerful guiding coalition

Actions needed:

  • Assemble a group with shared commitment and enough power to lead the change effort.
  • Encourage them to work as a team outside the normal hierarchy.


  • No prior experience in teamwork at the top.
  • Relegating team leadership to an HR, quality, or strategic planning executive rather than a senior line manager.


Stage 3: Create a vision

Actions needed:

  • Create a vision to direct the change effort.
  • Develop strategies for realizing that vision.


  • Presenting a vision that’s too complicated or vague to be communicated in five minutes.


Stage 4: Communicate the vision

Actions needed:

  • Use every vehicle possible to communicate the new vision and strategies for achieving it.
  • Teach new behaviors by the example of the guiding coalition.


  • Under-communicating the vision.
  • Behaving in ways antithetical to the vision.


Stage 5: Empower others to act on the vision

Actions needed:

  • Remove or alter systems or structures undermining the vision.
  • Encourage risk taking and nontraditional ideas, activities, and actions.


  • Failing to remove powerful individuals who resist the change effort.


Stage 6: Plan for and create short-term wins

Actions needed:

  • Define and engineer visible performance improvements.
  • Recognize and reward employees contributing to those improvements.


  • Leaving short-term successes up to chance.
  • Failing to score successes early enough (12-24 months into change effort).


Stage 7: Consolidate improvements and produce more change

Actions needed:

  • Use increased credibility from early wins to change systems, structures, and policies undermining the vision.
  • Hire, promote, and develop employees who can implement the vision.
  • Reinvigorate the change process with new projects and change agents.


  • Declaring victory too soon – with the first performance improvement.
  • Allowing resistors to convince “troops” that the war has been won.


Stage 8: Institutionalize new approaches

Actions needed:

  • Articulate connections between new behaviors and corporate success.
  • Create leadership development and succession plans consistent with the new approach.


  • Not creating new social norms and shared values consistent with changes.
  • Promoting people into leadership positions who don’t personify the new approach.

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