Leading Change: Why Transformation Efforts Fail
Dr. Toni Pauls
October 23, 2012
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Summary of Leading Change: Why Transformation Efforts Fail
John Kotter, a former professor of Leadership at Harvard Business School, has studied both success and failure in change initiatives in business. “The most general lesson to be learned from the more successful cases is that the change process goes through a series of phases that, in total, usually require a considerable length of time. Skipping steps creates only the illusion of speed and never produces satisfactory results” and “making critical mistakes in any of the phases can have a devastating impact, slowing momentum and negating hard-won gains.” (HBR, 2007) The positive will be focused on, rather than pitfalls, for this paper. Kotter summarizes the eight stages in his case study, Leading Change Why Transformation Efforts Fail as follows: 1. Establish a sense of urgency
2. Form a powerful guiding coalition
3. Create a vision
4. Communicate the vision
5. Empower others to act on the vision
6. Plan for and create short-term wins
7. Consolidate improvements and produce more change
8. Institutionalize new approaches
These eight stages in the case study, Leading Change Why Transformation Efforts Fail will be compared with a change model example on page 257 in the textbook, Practicing Organization Development for this paper. There are many similarities in the change management theories in the case study and the textbook. The case study contains eight stages Leading Change: Why Transformation Efforts FailPage 3
and the textbook example explains it in three stages with 20 total steps. A few of the eight steps include more than one main idea that is discussed in several ideas in the textbook.
“Change is inevitable for survival (cf Darwin). But change can often be difficult, painful and slow.” (slooowdown.wordpress.com) In my opinion, change is necessary to grow. “This is often due to the interconnectedness of things (change one thing in a system, and it impacts others things). Thus change usually means changing everything (that’s why everyone needs to be involved) and it’s more than likely that you will never get complete or perfect change.” (slooowdown.wordpress.com) Change requires constant and never ending ‘pushing’ and support to ensure it stays (else the system will rapidly default back to the old patterns of behavior).” (slooowdown.wordpress.com) Establishing a sense of urgency is described as Stage One in the case study as: * “People need to know why they must change.
* This sense of urgency needs to be there constantly.
* They need to experience the need for change themselves to truly internalize it * Need to get the big issues from below the tables, and get them talked about (as awareness/acceptance is the first and most crucial step of change).” (slooowdown.wordpress.com)
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Stage One in the textbook example is Preparation. Step One in the Exploration Section is Identify a need or opportunity for improvement or change. The case study describes the change as urgent, while the textbook simply states that the change needs to be identified.
Form a powerful guiding coalition is Stage Two in the case study and is noted with the following: * “No one individual can do it all alone – s/he needs to inspire a team who want to follow that vision. * Needs a team to spread the word – but not to do all the work. The whole organization needs to feel responsible for change – everyone is an agent of change. * The guiding coalition should be made up of people who are credible/authoritative so can influence others; and have the expertise & skills to help guide the decision making process through the...