Kotter's 8- Step Change Model

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As programs are not isolated it is affected by both external and internal factors which can make it necessary to apply changes in the program. When first the decision about making a change is taken the next step is to apply the changes. John P. Kotter has developed a method to implement changes which consist of eight steps. These steps are described in Kotter’s 8-Step Change Model to guide organizations through change.[1] As programs can be seen as temporary organizations[2] Kotter’s 8-Step Change Model can be used to implement changes in a program. This article will present The 8-Step Change Model as well as how to implement the model in a program.

Managing Programs


Kotter’s 8-Step Change Model as a tool for managing change in a program[4]


  1. Establishing a Sense of Urgency

The first step to take in the 8-Step Change Model is to establish a sense of urgency in the program. This means that it should be clear why changes have to be applied now and not in six month. The change has to start from the top and the Program Manager needs to create urgency for the relevant stakeholders in the program to convince the stakeholders that action has to be taken now since they will be part of the change. (1) Challenges occur in this step if the Program Manager is not a great leaders because it takes a lot of effort to convince people to change. If the Program Manager does not succeed people can become barriers that makes the change difficult to make or even impossible.(1)

  1. Forming a Powerful Guiding Coalition

When the sense of urgency is created a powerful guiding coalition has to be made. This is a group of people who will be the front runners in the change of the program. This group should not only be the top of the hierarchy but the people should have some part of power in the form of titles, information, expertise, reputations and relationship(1) The group also have to reach broad in the program so each project has a front runner so change will reach to all parts of the program.

  1. Create a Vision

The guiding coalition develops a vision for the change together. It is important that this step is done together to make every person in the group feel ownership of the vision to better promote it and not being a barrier.(?) The vision should be clear and possible to explain so the listener understands it and believe in it in five minutes.

  1. Communicating the Vision

When the vision for the change is made it has to be communicated to the stakeholders. If every person in affected by the change is not aware of the vision the change can move in different directions and the chance of success decrease. Change is not easy especially not if sacrifices has to be made therefore the vision has to be communicated so the stakeholders believe in it. (1)

  1. Empowering Others to Act on the Vision

If stakeholders still do not believe in the vision for the change they can become obstacles which will prevent the change to be a success. In this step of the model the obstacles have to be handled. This could be making an extra effort to convince a person, relocate the person or fire the person. The obstacles do not have to be people but could also be organizational structures or processes on operational level in the program. (1)

  1. Planning for and Creating Short-Term Wins

The saying an elephant should be eaten in small bites also comply with this situation. The sixth step in the model tells the practitioners to make short-term wins meaning that the final goal could be far in the future so sub-goals should be made. This should be so managers have clearly performance goals (1) to do so the sub-goals have to be different for every project or even on lower levels than that depending on how performance goals are made normally.

  1. Consolidating Improvements and Producing Still More Change

Step seven guides the practitioner not to celebrate too soon but keep being aware of the changes that have to be made.

  1. Institutionalizing New Approaches

When a change becomes a part of the cultures mindset the changes are successful and at this point it is important to make sure the next generation of employees adapt the same culture.(1)



  1. Kotter, John P.| 1995 |"Leading change: Why Transformation Efforts Fail" Harvard Business Review pp. 59-67
  2. Muhammad Ehsan Khan | 2014 | "Program Governance" 1st ed.
  3. AXELOS, and Cabinet Office | 2011 | "Managing Successful Programmes" 4th ed.
  4. Kotter, John P.| 1995 |"Leading change: Why Transformation Efforts Fail" Harvard Business Review pp. 59-67
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