How Kotter’s 8 steps change model helps you to facilitate change

Kotter’s 8 Step Change Model provides clear guidance and grip on how to become a true facilitator of change. How? In this blog, we take you through our take on Kotter’s 8 steps, one by one.

Setting sustainability goals is one thing. Actually getting there is the (really) hard part. Because where to start your journey? How to involve all key stakeholders? And how to make sure to actually realise sustainable change in your organisation?

At Limelights, we help sustainability leaders to achieve their sustainability goals by facilitating virtual summits, sprints and training programs. We have experienced that Kotter’s 8 Step Change Model provides clear guidance and grip on how to become a true facilitator of change. How? In this blog, we take you through our take on Kotter’s 8 steps, one by one. 

🎓 Kotter’s 8 steps change model

Harvard Business School Professor (and renowned change expert!) John Kotter introduced the 8 Step Model of Change in his book “Leading Change”. The model was developed after researching 100 organisations that were going through a change process. So why do we especially like Kotter’s Model? Well, for starters, because it provides a straightforward step-by-step plan of approach on how to realise fundamental change within a company. In addition to being easy to understand and implement, Kotter’s Change Model works well in practice because it takes into account that in order to realise sustainable change, employee buy-in and communication are crucial elements.


👉 Enough with the talking. Time to get practical. Let’s go through the model step-by-step. 

Step 1: Create a sense of urgency

First things first. Ask yourself the question: why do we need to change? Because if there is no urgency to change (or if the stakeholders in your company don’t see the urgency), it does not make sense to start the change process. The following questions can help you to create a sense of urgency:

Step 2: Building a guiding coalition

Sense or urgency there? Nice. Now: Who do you need on-board to actually reach your goals? Building a strong guiding coalition is essential to make change happen in your company. Make sure to include all essential decision-makers and influencers, so you can proceed and make change happen.

💡 Tip: Don’t forget about the blockers in your company. Who are the influential people in your firm that you need to convince? 

Step 3: Form a strategic vision

It’s almost a no-brainer, but we still see that many change initiatives fail because step 3 is overlooked: Developing a good, clear vision. This is a vitally important determiner for success. Make sure to set clear change goals, including transparant initiatives to support it. Don’t be shy in setting goals. Make them Big, Hairy and Audacious: goals that inspire you ánd scare you a little bit at the same time.

From vision to getting things done 

👉These first 3 steps are really about laying a rock solid foundation. Don’t take these 3 steps lightly: because that is where it all starts. Checked the boxes? Nice! Let’s continue to steps 4,5 and 6, which are all about communicating your vision and making sure things actually get done in your company. 

Step 4: Enlist a volunteer army

Your guiding coalition basically includes the essential layer of stakeholders in your organisation that you really need to have on board to make change happen. But besides this essential layer, you need more people involved and excited about the change journey. Your volunteer army of so to say. Because let’s be honest. Real change can only be realised when everyone is on board. 

Step 5: Enable action by removing barriers 

Obviously, in every organisation there are some sort of barriers for change. Ever heard something like “It’s not in the KPI’s”, or “There is not enough time to work on this change project”. Step 5 is all about what we can do to remove such barriers. How? By enabling action. 

👉 For example: Empower your volunteer army! Give them allocated time to work on- and act on initiatives to come. 

Step 6: Generate short term wins

Make sure your change journey is focussed on generating short-term wins. This gives a clear signal to the organisation that change is not some abstract long-term thing, but really working in practice. This also means that you should show successes along the way. Celebrate wins, small or big. 

Step 7: Sustain acceleration

After the first success of your change journey, you are not done. Many change initiatives never make it across the finish line because victory is declared too soon. Step 7 is all about sustaining change by keeping the momentum going. Quick wins are only the beginning of longer-term change. It ain’t over till the fat lady sings, right?  Keep improving and refining your goals according to new insights. Change is a journey, not a plan set in stone! 

Step 8: Institute change 

Almost done.. Change is only successful when the new behaviour is actually anchored in your organisation. Step 8 is therefore all about instituting change. In other words: Making the change stick. This is all about creating a new culture and improving (or eliminating) organisational procedures that do no not match with the new culture. 

💡Tip: Make sure to keep your key stakeholders on board and encourage new employees to adapt to changes. Lastly: don’t stop with celebrating successes. Keep it going! 

Become a facilitator of change

Inspired by Kotter’s Model, but don’t really know where to go from there? We get that. That is why we have created a Miro template based on Kotter’s Model, to facilitate your change journey and get others involved in an organic way.

👉 Get our Miro template here

👉 Oh an: In this video, you can learn how to get the most out of the Miro template.

👉 Last but not least: Reaching sustainability goals it not an easy task. Sustainability is perhaps the greatest challenge of our time. The good news? Limelights is here to help! Get in touch with us today to start your journey of building a net positive business by helping your colleagues find their purpose. Interested? Don’t hesitate to get in touch with Joost for a 30-minute inspiration session.

One solution to all your sustainability challenges.

We believe companies, especially the people within them, are the ones who have the opportunity to draw a positive path forward. Let us show you how.
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