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2. Change Series: The 8-Step Approach to Change

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In my last blog I wrote about the key drivers for change. This blog focuses on a well-established model for change.

The most commonly used, and easy to adapt, model is that developed by US management consultant and Harvard Professor John Kotter. Originally developed for business, we have found it useful for charities and other non-profits.

Kotter argues that once you have decided why you want to change you should go through eight steps to move from idea to implementation.


Step Implication and action
Step 1 Establish a sense of urgency Make sure that key stakeholders are aware there is a problem and that they agree on what the problem is- otherwise you’ll have no momentum for change.
Step 2 Create the guiding coalition To steer the organisation through the change you need a group with the authority to design the approach. This might involve a small change team, a mix of the board and SMT or even the whole staff. But you need to be clear on change mandate
Step 3 Develop a vision and strategy You know from Step 1 what you don’t want. But you need to move beyond that and develop a positive and engaging vision of what the changed organisation will look like. Then you need- with your guiding coalition- to establish what steps and stages will help you achieve that.
Step 4 Communicate the change vision To get key stakeholders on board you need to communicate the change vision- a mix of where you want to get to and how you’ll get there. This communication needs to be constant and consistent to ensure it arrives and is re-enforced.
Step 5 Empower broad-based action If the change is to happen then it’s not enough to have the guiding coalition on-board- you need to have smaller groups and individuals contributing to the change. This broad based action- involving board, senior staff, front liners and perhaps even volunteers- is essential.
Step 6 Generate short-term wins It’s possible for the individuals involved in the change to lose heart- and even revert to the pervious unhelpful approaches. You need to build into your change programme an acceptance that the process can be long and difficult. So you need some successes. These needn’t be huge victories but they do need to be public and recognisable successes. A significant new donor coming on board to support your programme is an example.
Step 7 Consolidate gains and produce more change Your change processes now has that key ingredient- momentum. But you need to build on that momentum and use it to leverage greater progress. As you create more momentum so more people come on board. You have almost finished
Step 8 Anchor new approaches in the corporate culture It’s not enough to change structures, processes, or even people. To create sticky permanent change you need to change culture. You need to find symbolic and practical ways to ensure that the change you want is so deeply routed that there is no chance of things rolling back.

In my next blog I’ll explore how to put the Kotter model into action.

Click here to read the next blog in the Change Series

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