Kotter Change Model

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Competitive imperatives of market forces and customer demands in today’s environment have led to the emergence of less hierarchical and more flexible organisations (Doyle, 2001). In working towards this paradigm shift, a distinction and clarification of the relationship between leadership and management in the change process needs to be addressed. According to Caldwell (2003), change leaders are executives or senior managers at the very top of the organisation who envision, initiate or sponsor strategic change of far-reaching or transformational nature by challenging the status quo, communicating a vision that employees believe in, and empowering them to act. In contrast, change managers are usually middle level managers and functional specialists who carry forward and build support for change within business units and key functions ("Leadership & Management," 2009). The two roles although different are complimentary for successful change as it demands a process that is driven by leadership and supported by management (Kotter, 1997). Although it is acknowledged that management is used to support a successful change process, this essay however, is only focused at addressing leadership in an organisation through the 8 general lessons that John Kotter has developed in his eight-step model of leading a planned change and how it can be effectively applied in the dynamic environment of today. Leading a change initiative is one of the most difficult tasks a leader can face. It is face with tremendous risk and opportunities. For most leaders, managing this change initiative is a crucial role but the responsibilities can widely vary depending on the type of change pursued (Beatty & Lee, 1992). The vast majority of leaders today adopt a planned change approach to large-scale organisational change. In many circumstances, they apply a linear, step by step planned process in implementing the major change. Victor, Greg and Neil (2004) explains that planned change models offer a rational model to change and a sequential framework that helps the planning and implementation of complex change. Such models therefore essentially chart the course of change and allow the manager to read the navigational signs (Goodstein & Burke, 1991). However, three things must be beared in mind as planned organisation change is implemented, that firstly more than one phase can occur at the same time, secondly, the phases are not mutually exclusive and lastly that contingency plans need to be in place, because rarely does anything turn out as planned (Burke, 2008). One highly known linear approach to change is the eight-step model of Kotter. His model is highly influential in Australia and elsewhere as demonstrated by organisations that explicitly apply his framework like University of Adelaide and several government bodies in Australia. Kotter’s model was developed after his study of more than 100 organisations in which he found that the majority of change efforts failed (Kotter, 1997). He identified two key lessons from his analysis of change failures: First that the change process goes through a series of phases, each lasting a considerable period of time and second, critical mistakes in any of the phases can have devastating impact on the momentum of the change process (Victor, et al., 2004). His eight-stage change process was, therefore, designed to avoid the eight fundamental errors he had identified in his organisational study (Kotter, 1997, 2007). The role as a leader is to build the case for change and to engage people in being committed to the change. This is the core idea of Kotter’s (1996) important first step – “create a sense of urgency” (Clarke, 2009). According to the CEO of Brisbane City Council, Jude Munro, “one must understand the drivers for change before even presenting a clear vision for change, only then can one build and a sense of urgency” (Victor, et al., 2004). A way for understanding the drivers for change within an organisation is...
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