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Managing Change and Transition

Updated: Aug 10, 2021

The building blocks of managing change in business

Over the next few weeks, we’ll be dedicating Tuesday posts to various management models from Van den Berg and Pietersma's Key Management Models, 3rd Edition.

Our first model is JP Kotter’s The Eight Phases of Change.

Kotter studied over 100 companies that went thru a change process. From that research, the most common mistakes found were complacency, failing to create a coalition, lack of clear vision, poor communication of the vision, permitting road blocks, failing to create (and acknowledge) short-term or small victories, declaring victory prematurely, and not cementing those changes into the company’s culture.

To combat these mistakes and successfully implement change, Kotter lays out his 8 steps:

1) Establish a sense of urgency. Perhaps you’re choosing to make a change, or perhaps change is foisted upon you because of a crisis or sudden market shift. Either way, for change to be successful, it must be a priority among the key actors in your organization.

2) Create a coalition. In addition to urgency, you also need buy-in from your key actors in order to create the conditions and actions that result in lasting change.

3) Develop a clear vision. Talk it out. Argue and debate. But in the end, you need a clear, simple statement that says exactly what you’re setting out to achieve. Without a known destination, you cannot chart the path and you cannot accurately measure progress.

4) Share the vision. Talk the talk – communicate what is being done, why it’s being done, and the importance. Walk the walk - You and your coalition, having reached agreement and committed to the project, must be role models for the effort.

5) Empower people to clear obstacles. The messy middle, where that breakthrough occurs, or where the company falls back into the same old patterns. Communicate regularly. Be open to unconventional or novel solutions; different outcomes require different behaviors.

6) Secure short-term victories. If you’ve taken the time to clearly articulate and share the vision and gotten buy-in, then you should have some early progress to celebrate. Take the time and do so. It will reinforce commitment and boost confidence for the larger items to come.

7) Consolidate and keep moving. Following your plan, start aiming at and creating larger wins. Commit to making change and development a part of the company’s identity. Make sure that you hire and train people that embody this quality.

8) Anchor. Do not allow the company’s behavior to back-slide. Change the structures and administration (and personnel if necessary) to lock in the change, and create the opportunity for additional growth / improvement in the future.

Change is messy. It asks people to step out of their comfort zones and takes effort. Approaching a change effort haphazardly, or half-heartedly, and you’ll likely fall into one of those common mistakes Kotter’s research identified.

While Kotter politely calls them mistakes, they are the types of mistakes that hamper your change efforts, and keep you stuck in the status quo. While that may or may not be detrimental to the business, it still means you're operating at less than maximum performance.

Tomorrow on the video blog, I’ll be sharing some personal experience with change management through the lens of Kotter’s 8 Steps.

Have any experiences with these you’d like to share? Put them in the comments.

Interested in the book? Paul Pietersma & Gerben van den Berg. Key Management Models, 3rd Edition. Harlow. Pearson, 2015. Print.


About the Author:

Matt Beckmann - Management Consultant - Executive Coach

Matt Beckmann is the Founder & Managing Director of Ascent Consultants. In addition to experience as a former Chief of Staff to the Missouri Auditor and as a Corporate Vice President and General Counsel, he has advanced training and certifications in law, business, coaching, athletics, and leadership. His blog content, inspired by his deep passion for unlocking his reader's best potential, consistently equips business owners and individuals with the knowledge and resources to overcome obstacles that may be hindering growth.

Ascent Consultants - Management Consultants to Enable Your Business Growth

Ascent Consultants provides business and strategy consulting, executive and leadership coaching, and leadership assessments. By converting client growth goals into an actionable "game plan," we help companies and individuals unlock their full potential.

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