How To Use The 8-Step Change Model for Business Growth

People say the only thing that’s constant in the world is change. However, that doesn’t seem to be the case in many organizations. Most of the time, organizational changes are met with resistance. According to Harvard Business Review, 70 percent of businesses that implement change fail.

That’s why every business needs John Kotter’s 8-step change model to successfully undertake change.

But why do we even want organizational change to begin with?

Simple. No business is perfect from the get-go.

Organizational change alters a major, often problematic (or obsolete) organizational culture, operational procedures, or systems. Change management, on the other hand, is how relevant personnel will usher this change throughout the company. Strategic planning is quintessential for a successful transition as the company is going through changes.

Among every change process theory in existence, nothing comes close to Kotter’s 8-step change model. Implementing it is the key to the transformational change you’re looking for and we’re here to explain it to you. Keep reading to learn more about Kotter’s model of change.

Kotter’s Model vs Lewin’s Model

Perhaps the biggest motivator to change management is that markets and consumer preferences change drastically. Remaining rigid to ancient processes will affect your business negatively. Whether you’re looking for incremental changes or a big transformational change, effective implementation is key to success.

Throughout the organizational change discipline, two leaders in change management have emerged:

  1. Kotter’s 8-step change model
  2. Lewin’s model of change

Kurt Lewin, the German-American social psychologist, introduced a model of change in the early 20th century. Lewin’s model of change proposes that any individual change within an organization is affected by the group’s behavior. Any organizational change affecting the entire framework trickles down to every individual within the organization. 

The change process theory introduced by Lewin follows three basic processes:

  1. Unfreeze. This is where businesspeople prepare the team for changes. You remove the rigidity of the status quo (or current situation) and soften the team up for change. This is done by determining what areas need to change. You can also do this by gathering stakeholder and team support and creating a compelling need for transformational change.
  2. Change. The only time people will be receptive to change is when the status quo is fluid or unfrozen. There’s no particular way to ensure predictable results so trial and error may be needed. In this phase, you’ll look at what works, what doesn’t and what were resistant to transformational change. Communication, informational flow, and leadership are all keys to successful change management.
  3. Refreeze. Once the changes are locked and loaded, it’s time to sustain and reinforce the change. This is where refreeze comes in. The change becomes your “new normal,” so to speak.

One of the biggest criticisms of Lewin’s model of change is the lack of accountability for intra-organizational and inter-societal interaction. It fails to address the complex idea of change and sees change as a linear process. That’s what John Kotter’s 8-step change model brings to light.

Change is never linear, and it’s even more complicated than meets the eye. Your organization may not attain the change it’s looking for without expert guidance to implement Kotter’s change management theory. Wizard of Sales® is here to make sure your aspirations for transformational change are a success. It begins with booking a call.

Leading Change: Kotter’s 8-Step Change Model

John Kotter and his processes are some of the most valuable content you’ll find on organizational change. He is a thought leader in business, leadership and change, and has over 21 publications revolving around these concepts. His 1996 book called “Leading Change” garnered wide public attention especially because of Kotter’s change model.

His 8-step change model is a winning methodology that’s proven to produce lasting and meaningful change in organizations. In developing this book, Kotter observed countless leaders and organizations for over 4 decades. 

He aimed to examine how they attempted to transform their organizations and implement their strategies. Among the best ones, he extracted the success factors and developed them into his world-renowned 8-step change model.

Unlike Lewin’s model of change, Kotter’s is more comprehensive. It makes change seem like a campaign more than a U-turn. Many businesses like this more contemporary model, especially since it’s step-by-step. This makes the transition smoother, despite taking a long time before it’s fully engraved into the system.

Below are the 8 steps:

  1. Create a sense of urgency.
  2. Build a guiding coalition.
  3. Form a strategic vision.
  4. Enlist a volunteer army.
  5. Enable action by removing barriers.
  6. Generate short-term wins.
  7. Sustain acceleration.
  8. Institute change.

We’ll discuss them in detail in the following texts:

Create a Sense of Urgency

The first step in Kotter’s 8-step change model is creating a buzz to nudge the proposed change. You need to create enough momentum through the support of everyone within the organization that change is necessary. This is done by amplifying the problems, threats and repercussions of not embracing change. Additionally, you also want to determine the opportunities you can get from applying interventions.

To that end, a SWOT analysis, honest dialogues, and open forums within the team can be implemented. The participation of every industry personnel, employee or stakeholder that’s relevant to the organization is encouraged. When everyone witnesses the problem, the urgency and commitment to change become stronger.

Build a Guiding Coalition

With every endeavor, there must be key people to take charge and lead the rest of the organization. This is where building a guiding coalition comes in.

First, determine the effective change leaders and stakeholders within your framework. Given their authority and influence over their Realm of Association, they will steer the change in the right direction.

Aside from leaders, you want field personnel and change teams to actively participate in the change, too. Their key responsibilities are to encourage weak areas among the coalition teams to take part.

Once you activate individuals within the company, at different levels, across departments — you have yourself the ‘A-team’.

Form a Strategic Vision

All initiatives should always be paired with a desirable vision. Your vision is the achievable picture that represents success by the end of the campaign. This will motivate your team further in pushing through with the proposed change.

The only problem is that companies often create wonderful visions, but miss out on a key component: strategy.

A vision is only as good as the strategic planning process behind it. Realistic goals and clear steps are necessary to help your organization make the vision a reality. The simpler the steps, the easier it is to achieve wins and the faster the gratification. This makes the plan more appealing to all the stakeholders involved.

Make sure the vision is communicated effectively throughout the organization and that it reflects a strengthened culture.

Enlist a Volunteer Army

Just like in sales, the sales process ends with the coveted “yes” when an alignment of principles takes place. In the same way, you want the rest of the company (outside your guiding coalition) to get on board with the plan. This is only possible when business leaders and key people “walk the talk”. That means you all should exemplify the change you expect your people to make.

This process in the 8-step change model is also called communicating the buy-in. In other words, people must buy into your narrative to fully win their hearts and minds. That’s the only way for them to commit.

Enable action by removing barriersEnable Action by Removing Barriers

Obstacles and hurdles are normal especially when a company is going through changes. They come in many shapes and forms. For example, misaligned processes, employee resistance or non-stimulating management are possible hurdles. When faced with such adversity, it falls to your guiding coalition to sort them out.

Since the coalition is scattered throughout the framework, they can identify the obstacles within each department. The team could then huddle around and diagnose the problem to come up with relevant solutions.

The secret here is being proactive. Every solution introduced to a department should reflect and be in place for other units that may face the same. Make sure to reward employees that actively work toward the vision to reinforce the change.

Generate Short-Term Wins

It’s no secret that transformational change takes time. Unlike Lewin’s model of change, the process isn’t exactly straightforward and linear. There will be many ups and downs, twists and turns that drag the process. This could be discouraging for stakeholders when long-term goals aren’t realized.

This is where short-term goals come in. Setting easily achievable targets that produce immediate results helps inspire people to commit to and support the cause.

The key here is breaking the entire project into smaller chunks. Every success should be made transparent and recognizable throughout the company.

Sustain acceleration

Sustain Acceleration

Consistency is an integral concept within Kotter’s change management theory. Once you achieve short-term goals, you want to keep the momentum going. Everyone in the team should be working hard to achieve their own victories while actively tracking their progress.

There’s just one warning: avoid big victory celebrations. A few attained goals should be met with celebrations according to the grandeur of the success.

After each success, try to look at what worked and what went wrong. Your goal is to build on this successful experience, therefore hurdles should be extracted and removed. Furthermore, unnecessary procedures and inefficient processes must also be quelled from the system.

Finally, make sure to always reward people who took part in the short-term victory.

Institute Change

Last but not the least, you want change to be visible and become the norm throughout your organizational culture. So, discuss the success stories, victories and advantages related to the change in every possible opportunity. In this stage, every adjustment committed in line with the original vision is solidified.  

To strengthen your position in instituting the change, a futuristic perspective is necessary. That includes discussing the newly established norms, practices, systems and culture with new recruits. This process covers developing new training manuals, modules or programs to usher new hires into the new change. 

John Kotter’s 8-step change model is the key to establishing the change your company craves. Change is slow and challenging without the guidance of experts who have instituted transformational changes in countless companies before you. 

If you need expert help, Wizard of Sales® can do that for you. All it takes is booking a free call and let’s make change happen.