Mastering change: A visual and alternative guide to Kotter´s model — Part 2

Step 5–8 of Kotter´s change management model rearranged

Based on our experiences in a variety of change management projects, we have developed a visual and alternative guide based on the 8-step model for change management by Dr. John Kotter.

Please start with Part 1 of this series. Part 2 includes step 5 to 8 and focuses on the implementation phase. For more details please refer to

E) Removing barriers

Now we get practical, action is required. After setting up the team, the vision including the sense for urgency, clarifying the mindset and developing a communication strategy, we now have to adress ostacles that hinder the organizational to change.

This again is a key phase, as people will look if you are serious about your strategy.

This may include inefficient processes, structures, hierarchies and of course: cultural change. We recommend identifying a list of key initiatives that fit into your strategy. This alignment to your strategy should be consistently communicated to all stakeholder groups. You may use different methodologies for addressing the change, from lean to agile process renewal, new organizational models and communicating cultural expectations and values. We will share an article which dives deeper into the alignment of strategy, structure and culture based on the St. Galler Management Model later on.

F) Rewarding — generate short term wins

Success breeds success.

We like this part. As Europeans, we often overlook this crucial, motivational point. As corporate strategic or cultural change is a long shot, we should have more awareness about establishing success stories from the very beginning. We all know, if we only head for the long run, we often fail due to the lack of motivation and stamina.

By slicing the project into small units, we can create short term wins and stimulate the sense of success. Furthermore, we can demonstrate first results to point to the overall objective. This will enable us to communicate the long-term vision again and again, which is another critical leadership tasks (please refer to Part 1).

G) Sustain acceleration

Change leaders must adapt quickly in order to maintain their speed. Whether it’s a new way of finding talent or re moving misaligned processes, they must determine what can be done — every day — to stay the course towards the vision.

This part has been redesigned by Kotter after 20-years of development and evaluation of the 8-step model. At first hand, this step was about learning from new processes, failures and developments. In today’s world, the focus is more about being and staying “agile” for constantly changing and demanding requirements. As we more and more are aware of living in a VUCA world, defined by volatility, uncertainty, complexity, and ambiguity, our leadership roles are redefined as well. Leadership today demands a new kind of creative approach which leads to many cultural challenges, such as different leadership styles across generations.

Bottom line: The leadership team has to ensure that different streams are balanced throughout the whole change management process.

H) Institute change as part of the corporate culture

How can we make the change efforts permanent? How can we establish a corporate culture which is open for change — as we are facing new demands day by day?

Today there is a new awareness of sustainability. There was an old saying in the traditional church: Ecclesia semper reformanda. This meant, the church as an 2.000 years old organization and institution has to ensure, that change is a never ending process.

Maybe this is why organizations such as Nokia have forfeit their leadership role, they once had.

This maybe the toughest questions: How can we exceed the point of short or mid-terms success and create values on a long-term basis?

We recommend thinking in the picture of a mountain hike: Obviously the challenge is to reach the mountain summit. But the most challenging and as research show, the most dangerous part of it is the descent.

The descent is nothing but brutal – Reinhold Messner.

Reinhold Messner once said: “The problem is, you are facing everything that lies down there. Once you have reached the summit you have to ask yourself: how can I still be motivated to climb as careful as at the beginning?”

It’s not just a question of conquering a summit previously unknown, but of tracing, step by step, a new pathway to it.”

This quote from Gustav Mahler can help us to consider change management as a methodology for constant learning and an enabler for renewal and innovation within our organizations.

We hope you have enjoyed the two parts of our new perspective of the 8-step model for change management by Dr. John Kotter.

We are keen to hear from you. For more information please refer to our website.