Tuesday, 22 April 2014

How to Manage Change in 8 Steps

By Isabella Brusati

Usually I don’t review books as there is a lot of noise out there when it comes to change management. If you check on Amazon there are +80,000 books on the topic!

However, in this sea of information there are a few books that do really deserve attention. In particular “Leading Change” by John Kotter. It is not a brand new book (in all honesty there is very little under the sun that has to be discovered when it comes to change), having been published in 1996. It is not perfect either. Therefore, why is it still a great book of reference for all executives and change practitioner? Because it focuses on a clear action plan and devises a clear path to follow.

When dealing with change management what I notice is that those that are in charge and those that are the recipients of change initiatives feel a little bit lost. “Where do I start?”, ” What should I do next?”


The strength of Kotter’s book is providing 8 steps that are clearly laid out. Not theory or fluff: a solid path that talks about challenges and solutions. Kotter does not promise success, unlike many others. The book starts with the top 8 reasons why change management initiatives fail and follows up with the drivers of change (you would notice that the elements that drove change nearly 20 years ago are basically the same that drive change today, notwithstanding the fanfare we are now used to that change is faster than ever), those being:

1. technological change

2. international economic integration

3. maturation of markets in developed countries

4. fall of communist regime (you may say this is not applicable, but … look at the effects change of political directions in China are having in today’s business world)

These elements flow in the globalisation of markets and competition that lead to more opportunities but, at the same time, to more hazard. The output is more large change in organisations.


Readers may object that these elements are same old same old but, let’s take into consideration that the book was published in 1996. Organisations have had nearly 20 years to focus on solutions. Yet, we are still facing the same issues and many are still struggling using tools to find solutions. What can we do?


The strength of this book is in the outline of the 8-stage process of creating major change. This is a clear path, a step-by-step process that can guide you and senior managers leading change successfully. It covers all the issues that characterise change management initiatives, such as lack of leadership, lack of strategy and vision, sketchy communication, ingoring change consolidation phase.

What is this recipe then?

The eight steps are very easy (on paper), but require serious commitment and focus of the senior coalition to succeed:

1. establishing a sense of urgency

2. creating the guiding coalition

3. developing a vision and strategy

4. communicating the change vision

5. empowering broad-based action

6. generating short term wins

7. consolidating gains and producing more change

8. anchoring new approaches in the culture.

Each step is explained by Kotter in a straightforward way, without references to theories or waffling. Of course it is not a miraculous cure: it is a strong starting point for everyone that wants to understand how change really works and getting solid tools to succeed.

Whether you are a newbie to change or an experience professional this book is a must have in
your business library.

About the Author: Isabella Brusati Consulting: addressing people and project dimensions of change management. http://www.isabellabrusati.com

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