Quick Reference: Kotter's 8-Step Change Model

August 5, 2010
2 minute read

This model is good for people to consider when doing an Agile-Lean Transformation.  I use a process based on this model when working with clients, although the reality of work on the ground often means not following this model perfectly.  Without further ado, here is the model:

Step One: Create Urgency

What is the critical reason for change?  What is the “burning platform”?  What reason can people get behind emotionally for the pain of change?  Why are you considering agile and lean, and how is it urgent to use these methods?

Step Two: Form a Powerful Coalition

I call this as the Agile-Lean Transformation Team.  These people are usually managers and executives who can make change happen by virtue of budgets and positional authority.  They help with training, coaching, team formation, ongoing assessment, planning etc.

Step Three: Create a Vision for Change

The coalition creates a strongly worded statement that helps everyone see how they fit into the change process and results.  Tie the use of Agile-Lean to the end result.

Step Four: Communicate the Vision

Constantly!  Every opportunity, repeat the statement, discuss its application and implication.  Use both formal and informal methods.  Share links to information about Agile and Lean, create an elevator pitch and use it constantly.

Step Five: Remove Obstacles

The coalition supports staff who are struggling with how to make the change real in practical terms.  For example, an agile team might want a proper team room.  The lack of such a room is an obstacle to be removed by the coalition.

Step Six: Create Short-Term Wins

Choose places to focus effort that will be successful pilot projects.  Make sure that successes are broadly communicated.

Step Seven: Build on the Change

Make sure to have a backlog of projects to do using Agile-Lean, and make sure that as you go you are improving your use of Agile-Lean.  It takes time to break down old habits.

Step Eight: Anchor the Changes in Corporate Culture

Ensure that new staff are immediately and effectively educated on the use of Agile-Lean, and ensure that Agile-Lean continues to pervade the thinking and behavior of people throughout the organization (not just IT!!!).

(NOTE: this is based on the book “Leading Change” by Kotter, and a web page about this model.)

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Bruce Power
Capital One
Equitable Life of Canada
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