John P. Kotter is one of the best known and widely read authors on change. I recently read again his transforming article on change (Note 1) outlining why change initiatives fail and it is as releant today as it was in 1995. Based on research on successful change programmes, Kotter believes that the “change process goes through a series of phases” that take time and effort. Skipping or skimping on any of these steps are short sighted as they can have a major impact on the success or otherwise of the change initiative.
Key to change is creating a sense of urgency. Kotter believes that without this urgency, there will be no incentive for change – 50% of change initiatives fail in the first phase. Momentum in the rest peters out resulting in, if not failure, than succeed at a far lower level than could have been achieved.
Kotter’s 8 Steps are shown below:
While urgency is necessary, it is only the beginning. Many organisations, it seems, fail to realise the extent and nature of change and as a result fail to keep the momentum going. This will be the challenge facing many organisations; how to deal with change fatigue.
Note 1: Leading Change – Why transformation efforts fail, John P Kotter, Harvard Business Review on Change, 1995