Leading Change - John Kotter

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Leading Change - John Kotter

John Kotter is the most referenced author in the world when it comes to change management. Kotter lays out eight steps for cultural change in this book. He shifted his perspective on organizational change from a top-down approach to a voluntary bottom-up approach. In a brief summary Kotter outlines his new perspective on organizational change.

1. ESTABLISH A SENSE OF URGENCY: Change is difficult to achieve and takes a tremendous deal of cooperation, initiative, and willingness to make sacrifices from a large number of individuals. People must be persuaded that the current status of the organization is insufficient to meet the challenges of the future. Before anyone in the organization is willing to change anything, a so-called "burning platform" is required.

2. CREATE THE GUIDING COALITION: To achieve meaningful change, you'll need a well-coordinated team. Nobody, not even you, can bring about change on their own. Bring in the right individuals - top executives with authority, competence, and credibility among the workforce. These individuals require leadership and management abilities, particularly leadership. Team members must have faith in one another, and you may have to foster that trust if it does not already exist.

3. DEVELOP A STRATEGY AND VISION: Vision is a depiction of the future that includes compelling reasons for people to aspire to make that future a reality. A successful vision accomplishes three things: it clarifies and simplifies the broad direction for change, it encourages people to take action, and it quickly and efficiently coordinates the actions of many diverse people. Imaginable, desirable, feasible, focused, flexible, and easy to explain, a good vision is: "If you can't convey your vision to someone in five minutes and capture their attention," says the author, "you have more work to do in this phase of the transformation process."

4. COMMUNICATE THE CHANGE VISION: When the majority of all involved and affected share a similar understanding of the vision's aims and direction, the vision's true power is unleashed. Keep the messages simple and clear, and repeat them frequently. As you've probably noticed, the most effective politicians keep their messages basic and repeat them repeatedly. The message sinks in when people receive the same message from multiple sources. Encourage two-way communication so that your guiding coalition can see how the message is being received and how it can be improved.

5. EMPOWER EMPLOYEES FOR BROAD-BASED ACTION: Even if you've presented a reasonable goal to your staff and they've bought into it, there may still be roadblocks to overcome. To support the goal, you may need to adjust your organizational structure to match with your vision, provide training in any new skills required, and update your information and personnel systems. Finally, managers or supervisors who are stopping people from taking initiative may need to be removed.

6. CREATE SHORT-TERM WINS: Quick successes that support your change should be actively planned for in your transformation plan. People quickly  get tired of hearing "jam tomorrow." Short-term victories build momentum and strengthen the vision. They demonstrate to individuals, mostly employees but also senior stakeholders, that making short-term sacrifices is worthwhile, and they honor those who have generated rapid gains. They give favorable feedback that boosts employee morale. Short-term victories confirm that the plan is viable and, in some cases, signal that it has to be fine-tuned.

7. CONSOLIDATE GAINS AND PRODUCE MORE CHANGE: Don't give up before the job is finished. Use the increased credibility that rapid wins bring to modify systems and structures that are no longer aligned with the vision. People who can carry out the transformation vision should be hired and promoted. New projects and initiatives can help to revitalize the transition process.

8. ANCHOR NEW APPROACHES IN THE CULTURE: Culture refers to a group of people's common ideals and behavioral patterns. Once your change is implemented, it's vital to integrate it into the company's culture to avoid reverting to old ways of working and losing the benefits of the change you've implemented. The majority of changes in shared values and norms occur near the end of the transformation process. They are only accepted into a culture after it is evident that they provide results and are superior to traditional techniques. 

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