(by John P Kotter, from "HBR's 10 Must Reads: The Essentials")

Most major change initiatives generate only lukewarm results. Many fail miserably. Kotter maintains that too many managers don't realize transformation is a process, not an event. It advances through stages that build on each other. And it takes years. Pressured to accelerate the process, managers sometimes skip stages, but shortcuts never work.

Equally troubling, even highly capable managers make critical mistakes, such as declaring victory too soon, with the result of a loss of momentum, reversal of hard-won gains, and devastation of the entire transformational effort.

By understanding the stages of change--and the pitfalls unique to each stage--you boost your chances of a successful transformation. The payoff? Your organization flexes with tectonic shifts in competitors, markets, and technologies, leaving rivals behind.

Eight steps to transforming your organization

  1. Establishing a sense of urgency
    • Identifying and discussing crises, potential crises, or major opportunities
    • Actions needed
      • Examine market and competitive realities for potential crises and untapped opportunities
      • Convince at least 75% of your managers that the status quo is more dangerous than the unknown
    • Pitfalls
      • Underestimating the difficulty of driving people from their comfort zones.
      • Becoming paralyzed by the risks.
  2. Forming 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
    • Pitfalls
      • 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
  3. Creating a vision
    • Actions needed
      • Create a vision to help direct the change effort
      • Develop strategies for achieving the vision
    • *Pitfalls
      • Presenting a vision that's too complicated or vague to be communicated in five minutes
  4. Communicating the vision
    • Actions needed
      • Use every vehicle possible to communicate the new vision and strategy for achieving it
      • Teach new behaviors by the example of the guiding coalition
    • *Pitfalls
      • Undercommunicating the vision
      • Behaving in ways antithetical to the vision
  5. Empowering others to act on the vision
    • Actions needed
      • Get rid of obstacles to change
      • Change systems or structures that seriously undermine the vision
      • Encourage risk taking and nontraditional ideas, activities, and actions
    • Pitfalls
      • Failing to remove powerful individuals who resist the change effort
  6. Planning for and creating short-term wins
    • Actions needed
      • Define and engineer visible performance improvements
      • Recognize and reward employees contributing to those improvements
    • Pitfalls
      • Leaving short-term successes up to chance
      • Failing to score successes early enough (12-24 months into the change effort)
  7. Consolidating improvements and producing still more change
    • Actions needed
      • Use increased credibility to change systems, structures, and policies that don't fit the vision
      • Hire, promote, and develop employees who can implement the vision
      • Reinvigorate the process with new projects and change agents
    • Pitfalls
      • Declaring victory too soon--with the first performance improvement
      • Allowing resistors to convince "troops" that the war has been won
  8. Mantaining new approaches
    • Actions needed
      • Articulate the connections between the new behaviors and corporate success
      • Create leadership development and succession plans consistent with the new approach
    • Pitfalls
      • Not creating new social norms and shared values consistent with changes
      • Promoting people into leadership positions who don't personify the new approach


Tags: reading   books   management   leadership  

Last modified 01 June 2021