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What Does Kotter Say About Implementing Change?

Dr John Kotter acknowledged that there were eight steps that need to be taken in order to successfully implement change within an organisation in his book Leading Change. These stages are outlined in shorthand below:

Step One: Create a sense of urgency, Step Two: Build a guiding coalition, Step Three: Form a strategic vision and initiatives, Step Four: Enlist a volunteer army, Step Five: Enable action by removing barriers, Step Six: Generate short-term wins, Step Seven: Sustain acceleration, and lastly, Step Eight: Institute change.

We at The Agile Works wished to provide you a succinct analysis of Kotter’s stages for change.

Step One: Create A Sense Of Urgency:

Of course, we don’t want to cry wolf, but you do need to articulate the need for change with a weighted statement: something that will plague the minds of your colleagues; like how climate activism in the younger generations rallied around Greta Thunberg back in 2019.

Step Two: Build A Guiding Coalition

This step refers to the idea of rallying the troops, a guiding coalition is a group of people within a company that are the social leaders of the change initiatives. This coalition exists with the intention to further encourage your colleagues to join in with making the change. This group would be referred to as the early adopters by Anna Sandberg, Head of Continuous Improvement & Change at Product Creation, at Volvo Cars. Without having people be excited by a new initiative, it is less likely to be picked up and sustained in the workplace.

Step Three: Form A Strategic Vision and Initiative

This is the stage of the process, where the plan starts to form in concrete, steps to success are outlined to be taken, so that the company can begin to make this change in a manner that is sustainable. How is this going to happen? What is actually going to occur during this metamorphosis?

Step Four: Enlist A Volunteer Army

The volunteer army is a term used to describe a larger group of individuals coaxed into the temptation of change in persuit of common goals within their workplace. With so many people willing to explore this new opportunity, it may appear less daunting than it would as an individual, because you have the support of colleagues around you.

Step Five: Enable Action By Removing Barriers

Step Five describes the process of eliminating barriers which could limit the potential rewards from instigating the change, such as processes, hierarchies etc. removing these will ease the transition into change, and provide fluidity, increasing the impact of the change.

Step Six: Generate Short-Term Wins

Short-Term Wins in this context refers to small rewards; moments to be celebrated during the process. This is similar what gamers call as checkpoints; a sense of relief fills a player when they reach the next checkpoint on a level, because, despite not having completed the stage of play yet, should they be knocked back, their avatar will respawn at the checkpoint, instead of being thrust back to square one. They are used to record and track progress, and encourage people to continue, as they are one step closer to success.

Step Seven: Sustain Acceleration

Now that you are achieving, and your volunteer army are making steps toward progress, it is the time to make sure that this progression is sustainable at its current rate. You have to be stubborn and relentless, instigating change requires resilience, a quality you have as you have made it this far. Keep this momentum going.

Step Eight: Institute Change

The last stage of the eight proposed by Kotter refers to demonstrating the correlation between the sustained change, and the successes you have achieved in order to demonstrate that these changes are worth implementing elsewhere, strong enough to succeed the old behaviours within your workplace.

In doing the above, Kotter believed that change could be instigated into your workplace. If you are interested in reading more content on the nature of change management in the workplace, you can read our articles: Speak It Into Existence

Based in London, U.K., and founded in 2016 by Arvind Mishra The Agile Works (, is an up-and-coming recruitment and Agile consulting company. Arvind is a Certified SAFe SPC and regularly delivers both private and public SAFe certification workshops.

He is a design thinking expert, Sr. enterprise, portfolio Agile Coach with over a decade of experience working as an Agile coach in diverse industries such as banking, pharma, retail, auto, oil, gas, consulting and government.

The Agile Works; a small team of three strive to help shape the leadership's mind-set and values in readiness for their business transformation journey challenges. With Arvind at the helm, we strive to provide you with the agility tools to make your company that can thrive, and not just survive.

To book a consultation, or for any enquiries, you can contact Arvind via the following email address:

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