Thursday, May 30, 2013


In Part 1 of this series, "How Change Management Is Done," we introduced John Kotter's "8 Steps for Leading Change." The first four below involve planning and preparation.

1. Establish a sense of urgency
According to Kotter, at least half of failed change efforts are due to a failure to establish a sense of urgency around the targeted change early in the process. To make sure everyone understands the need for change, initiatives should engage all employees, right from the start. 

Suggested tactics include:

     •  Customized engagement surveys
     •  Culture surveys
     •  Employee focus groups

Surveys and assessments provide benchmarks to evaluate progress. Focus groups can illuminate and validate the findings of engagement and culture surveys, provided they are held soon after.

2. Form a guiding coalition

To lead change, Kotter states you must make sure an influential group leads the change effort. To do this, HR should create Shared Learning Experiences for the management team. These experiences give leaders a common understanding of challenges and opportunities involved and create a bond around the need for change. As part of the shared learning experiences, leaders should be led in the development of Action Planning Themes—common themes around which all action and communication in the initiative will be organized. These themes can be drawn from feedback provided by the engagement and culture surveys, and their development reinforces the need for the change.     

To help leaders communicate the change, develop a Case for Change—a clearly articulated rationale behind the need for the change to communicate and sell the need for the change consistently and compellingly.

Finally, have the leaders communicate the Action Planning Themes and the Case for Change to all levels of the organization. Their enthusiasm and participation will be instrumental in engaging others in the need for the change.

3. Create a vision

Creating a vision helps everyone understand why they are being asked to change. When people understand the objectives, the directives they’re given, and the changes they are asked to implement, they tend to make more sense, reducing resistance.

Once a coalition is formed and trained to communicate the change, a participatory, hands-on experiential learning experience can provide the deep and lasting understanding of exactly what change needs to occur, why, and how to accomplish it.

4. Communicate a vision

Thanks to the power of the shared experiential learning, everyone will gain a renewed sense of the urgency as they form a bond around the change. To take advantage of this enthusiasm, a good follow-up tactic is to have leaders create compelling personal “elevator pitches” for communicating the vision and need for change.

The process of creating these talking points empowers leaders, enabling them to communicate and model the behaviors required to make the change. The success rate of change initiatives increases dramatically when leaders communicate and actively model the change they are advocating.

Below are links to all three posts in this series:

Please share your insights and questions by posting comments to this blog. For more information on change management, please visit our website at, or email us


This post was extracted from an article by Sue Kennedy, Chris Musselwhite, and Tammie Plouffe, originally published in Training magazine (Lakewood Media Group).

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