Posted by: Adrian Colston | June 5, 2010

Leading Change – John Kotter

John Kotter is the leadership and change guru at the Harvard Business School. He has written a number of seminal books – Leading Change published in 1996 sets out the 8 Step Process of Creating Major Change. This is summarised below along with the 8 errors common to failure in change programmes.

Leading Change John Kotter
Eight Step process of creating major change 8 Errors Common to
Organisational Change Efforts
Establishing a sense of urgency Allowing too much complacency
Creating a guiding coalition Failing to create a sufficiently powerful guiding coalition
Developing a vision and strategy Underestimating the power of vision
Communicating the change vision Undercommunicating the vision by a power of 10
Empowering broad based action Permitting obstacles to block the new vision
Generating short term wins Failing to create short term wins
Consolidating gains and producing more change Declaring victory too soon
Anchoring new approaches in the culture Neglecting to anchor changes firmly in the corporate culture

More details on the 8 Step process can be found  here

Kotter goes on in Leading Change to compare 20th and 21st century organisations with reference to their structure, systems and culture. This is set out in the table below.

The Twentieth and Twenty-first century organisations compared
Twentieth century Twenty-first century
Bureaucratic Nonbureaucratic, with fewer rules and employees
Multi-levelled Limited to fewer levels
Organised with the expectation that senior management will manage Organised with the expectation that management will lead, lower level employees will manage
Characterised by policies and procedures that create many complicated internal dependencies Characterised by policies and procedures that produce the minimal internal dependence needed to serve customers
Depend on few performance information systems Depend on many performance information systems, providing data on customers especially
Distribute performance data to executives only Distribute performance data widely
Offer management training and support systems to senior people only Offer management training and support systems to many people
Inwardly focused Externally orientated
Centralised Empowering
Slow to make decisions Quick to make decisions
Political Open and candid
Risk averse More risk tolerant

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