successful man leading change

Kotter’s eight step model has become an industry standard in the change management world since its release in the 1996 book “Leading Change”. His model received an update in 2014, more closely reflecting current views of reality, but the general principles remain essentially the same.

A Balanced Response

Let me make it clear from the outset that I am not a fan of Kotter’s model. Later in this article I will give you my two strongest objections to it. However, I want this article to be balanced in its approach and I therefore need to acknowledge that most if not all of the eight steps in Kotter’s model should form part of your change management strategy. It is important to create a sense of urgency about change, to build a guiding coalition, to form strategic vision and initiatives, and so forth. I have my doubts about his fourth step “enlist a volunteer army”. Nevertheless, this model is a useful tool to give the change manager direction and structure to the change initiative.

First Objection

Having established the value of Kotter’s model, let me now turn to my two biggest objections to it. The first objection is that the model does not map well against the change process. Before I go on to explain what I mean by this, let me be clear about a general principle. The general principle is that people will only succeed at change if they have the capacity to succeed at every step of the change process. Too often the focus is on following a change plan or a change management process and people assume that if they follow this change plan they will be successful. But success does not come merely from follow