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Introduction to the Essay Kotters 8-Step Model is one of the most popular models for understanding, studying and

applying change in organizations. A simple literature search would show that it has been so far used as a model for understanding organizational change in at least 200 studies over the last decade. The model was first described by Kotter (1995), and the subsequently published as a bestselling book in the form of Kotter (1996). The book was written based on Kotters own business and personal experiences. Interestingly, the book did not specifically refer to any scientific study or empirical evidence and was based solely on Kotters experiences. Because of this, the authenticity of Kotters model has often been called in to question. More recently, there have been claims that Kotters model fails to function appropriately under situations of organization al crises. These recent issues call in to question the authenticity of Kotters model and necessitate a scientific inquiry and analysis into its validity. This essay follows such an inquiry. For the purpose of this essay, the paper would look into arguments supporting and opposing the claim that Kotters model is quite appropriate and successful for organizational change; even in situations of organization crises.

Methodology of Analysis The method in which the paper would be analyzed is primarily through literature review and assessing the applicability of recent developments in literature to Kotters model. Each step in Kotters model would be briefly assessed for applicability. First of all, it would be seen whether steps exist in the model which were debunked by literature as irrelevant or not necessary. If any such step exists, it would only point to the irrelevancy of Kotters model to OC. If information in literature is found which promotes the efficacy of Kotters model, it would only point to the relevancy of model to OC. Based on the support or rejection of steps in Kotters model, it would be assessed how much of Kotters

model is supported in literature and through analyses. Subsequently, the essay would consider the case of how Kotters model relates in situations of organizational crisis. This would be done, firstly, by defining organizational crisis and seeing how general characteristics about Kotters model relate to the features of organizational crisis implied from this definition. This would allow us to realize whether Kotters model is relevant in organizational crisis. Based on both the discussion and analysis, it would be decided how appropriate and relevant Kotters model is to organizational change in general and in specific situation of organizational crisis.

Assessment of Individual Steps A review and analysis of OCD literature illuminates that most steps in Kotters model have mostly supportive arguments in literature. The second step of the Kotters model was more coherently supported without arguments against. The second step is creating a guiding coalition. With respect to this step, Kotter (1996:53) states that the guiding coalition should possess four characteristics; position power, expertise, credibility and leadership. All of these factors have been recognized as essential for the success of organizational change. However, even more support is garnished for the second step as studies have found that if any of these characteristics does not exist in a change agent group than the probability of OC being a success is reduced. Lines (2007) studying organizational change in a telecommunications context found that if a change agent group did not have position power, it was most likely to fail. However, it was also found that position without expertise also did not guarantee success, and only when both expertise and positions were prevalent was OC success imminent. In another study (Paper et al., 2001) on OC in Honeywell Inc. it was found that if only position power was maintained without credibility an attitude the study termed as complete command and control it was found that it can result in failure of organizational transformation to be realized. Subsequently, further support for the guiding coalition has been reiterated in

case studies by Cunningham and Kempling (2009), Self et al (2007), Sidorko (2008) and Penrod and Harbor (1998). The only issue that has been raised with this step is that it fails to take into account recent findings that OC or transformation efforts should involve as many individuals in the company and not only a guiding coalition. However, it should be noticed that this isnt exactly a criticism or shortcoming as without complete support the success of the project will not be affected but rather some barriers would pop-up. Similarly, the third and fourth steps in Kotters model, i.e. developing a clear and sensible vision and strategy and communicating the vision, are also widely supported in recent OCD literature. The importance of a clear vision is highlighted in numerous studies (Wright and Thompsen, 1997; Washington and Hacker, 2005; Flamholtz and Kurland, 2006; Szabla, 2007). It should be realized that this might be related to the earlier realization that change is much more effective when individuals in a company are involved in it. A vision is something that can do so. This has been specifically argued in Paper et al (2001) which highlights the importance of a systematic methodology, i.e. a strategy. Paper et al (2001) observes that people are aware of the methodology through which change is bound to occur, they are more likely to know what to expect and what to do in their respective positions with respect to change. It should be realized when employees are aware of how change is going to occur, they are likely to know if their jobs are secure or not. This is obviously beneficial as if the change does not result in job loss, this would be clearly communicated, and hence barriers to OC would be reduced. It should also be noted that an appropriate vision also nurtures grass-root support for the change in community (Faber, 2002). This has been specifically seen when organizations have opted to go green or institute better employee-friendly work ethics (Faber, 2002). This can also result in barriers to change further being reduced as if change is likely to be accepted at the community level those acting as barriers against it are likely to be pressured into accepting change rather than refute it. It should be noted that the analysis that is provided requires that the Step 4 is also conducted so the vision and strategy of change is communicated through as many stakeholders as possible. For this reason, it should be noted

that even Step 4 is deemed essential for change to be successful. Similarly, Step 5 and Step 6 of Kotters model also are widely support ed by literature. Step 5 involves empowering employees so that they may feel more associated to OC. Kotter (1996:102) states that this empowerment should be achieved by changing structures and systems, training employees new skills and changing supervisor attitudes. The relevance of Kotters methodology for empowering employees gains specific support by Klidas et al (2007). In studying employee practices at luxury hotels, Klidas et al. (2007) realized that it supervisors, skills and structures indeed affect employee empowerment processes. It should be realized that some earlier studies of organizational change have also found that indeed supervisor attitudes tend to be the largest barrier to OC. This has also been studied in the module. The rationale behind this is quite simple. When OC takes place, the purpose is most often to eliminate unnecessary processes. With advancing computer technology, these often relate to the supervisors job description and hence supervisors tend to be the ones most fearful of OC and transformation. Moreover, it is also found that old supervisors tend to often restrict employee empowerment as they fear new processes would make their jobs redundant (Tidd & Bessant, 2011). For this reason, it should be noted that Step 5 is essential for successful OC. Hence, it should be noted that many of the steps provided in Kotters model are essential factors when considering making organizational change and transformation efforts successful. The support for some steps in Kotters model in management and OCD literature is ambiguous. While there are various studies through which the veracity of individual steps maybe argued, there are also studies which make certain individual steps seem redundant. The first step, for instance, has garnished a lot of support because of studies related to barriers in OC (Paton & McCalman, 2008). The first step dictates that a sense of urgency needs to be created. The manner in which this sense of urgency should be created is that an environmental scan and internal analysis should be conducted, and leadership should decide on bold actions based on this and these actions should be communicated broadly and dramatically (Kotter, 1995:43). According to Kotter

(1996), this is important because without wide support OC wont succeed and wide support can only be garnished through establishing a sense of urgency. In recent literature, there has been tremendous support for this step. Studies have identified many failed OC or restructuring attempts with a lack of support at all levels of the organization (Paton & McCalman, 2008; Tidd & Bessant, 2011; Sidorko, 2008). This lack of support has been subsequently identified with groups often undermining the necessity of organizational change (Tidd & Bessant, 2011). The first step, in essence, addresses these issues. Moreover, studies have also found that timing has been of essence in the success of OC, and many delayed or rushed changes have resulted eventually in organizational decay (Kamau, 2010). However, an implication of these studies is also rushed changes; an occurrence that Kotters first step might lead to and Kotter (1996)s emphasis on communicating the urgency dramatically might relate to. A systematic analysis of Kotters implementation in an NGO in Nigeria showed th at dramatizing the urgency resulted in a hastened effort which eventually caused chaos and crises in the organization (Kamau, 2010). Similar ambiguous implications are derived from studying and analyzing Steps 7 and Steps 8. Step 7 proposes that success should not be accepted after initial results and change should be continuously carried out as new objectives are realized. The rationale is that leaders of the change need to make the individuals accept that the changed organization is working and hence remove any remnant barrier to change (Kotter, 1997). Essentially, the support for this step largely exists with respect to the theory of momentum (Jansen, 2004). It is said that momentum in change processes is a recognizable occurrence that is composed of participants and observers commitment to the process (White, 1998). The supporting point that largely exists is that when success is announced too soon, it kills the momentum. Moreover, studies in momentum have found that it is what essentially pulls through commitment and change processes, and when momentum dies down it results in a loss of support and the resistance to enact greater barriers to change which effectively results in the failure of OC (Jansen, 2004). However, it should be noted that there is no case example of momentum

being killed by early announcements of victory. On the other hand, Kotter (1997) himself states that mentioning early successes only draws people over from the resistance to become supporters of the change and allows for final change steps to be taken. The difference that is stated is between announcing success and announcing victory; but the difference between success and victory is not described in any study of momentum. Also, it should be noted that carrying out change for longer-terms is a recognized strategy for ensuring success in OC (Tidd & Bessant, 2011); however, Step 7 is based on too vague of a rationale to be deemed appropriate. Contrastingly, Step 8 has more support that arguments against it. The debate on step 8 revolves more around the notion whether change processes should be concluded or forever maintained in continuity to enact in cases of future OC. In essence, it should be noted that Step 8 states that the changes that have been conducted should be instituted in corporate culture of an organization. It is much akin to Lewins third step of freezing so that change is made permanent and further unwanted change is not inspired. The rationale however is different. Kotter (1995) believes that if change is not instituted into culture, it would over time degrade. To institute change into culture Kotter (1996:67) states two important factors should take place; employees should be informed of how changes have improved performance and the next generation of management should personify the changed organization. Support for Kotters approach is provided largely in Reisner (2002). A study of the US Postal Service revealed that despite a successful OC in 1990s, the organization had slumped back to losses. It was realized the reason behind this was that commitment to change was not kept by appointing financial commitment to innovation, management became eventually unsupportive of changed processes (citing them as distractive) and trade unions started opposing the change as employees voice was marginalized. In this occurrence it is realized that indeed instituting change through a continuing commitment is necessary. Besides the continuity issue, another issue with step 8 is realizing when it should exactly occur. Kotter (1997) observes that it should take place when significant improvements have been seen and opposition to change seems negligent.

However, if we refer to Reisner (2002) it is noted that change had successfully occurred in the 1990s. Lets consider that at this point Kotters last step was instituted and change was made permanent. If this had been conducted, how would it have avoided the management that did not allow innovation? Kotter speaks of new management; however, if the notion of new management exists, it means that the old management would have to be replaced, and then how exactly would the old management whose support is required for change to be successful would support change? As such, it should be noted that there are essential issues with Step 8 that have not been recognized in literature.

Kotter and Organizational Crises With regards to organizational crisis, literature and analyses reflected that Kotters model was largely inappropriate with regards to organizational crisis. It should be realized that there are a number of reasons for this. Pearson and Clair (1998) define organizational crisis as a low-probability, high-impact event that threatens the viability of the organization and is characterized by ambiguity of cause, effect, and means of resolution, as well as by a belief that decisions must be made swiftly. If this definition of organizational crisis is realized, several issues with applying Kotters model would be outright realized. Kotters 8 -steps are specifically designed to at least take place over six to seven months at least. Anything shorter would result in a rushed change and eventually has the change to cause organizational decay, or in the context of organizational crisis only worsen the crisis. Subsequently, it should be noted that by design the 8-step model was not made for such situations. Kotter (1995) states that the model has been designed to implement fundamental changes in how the business is conducted in order to help cope with a new, more challenging market environment. The issue that arises then is that organizational crisis normally does not occur in relevance to more challenging market environment. They occur because of financial crises or natural disasters, but not because of a challenging market environment. As such, it should be noted that Kotters model

was not designed for organizational crises. Subsequently, it should also be noted that Kotters model is a rigid approach. Each step has to be taken in order, and the priors completion is the perquisite for the next step to be proceeded with. In organization crisis situations where decisions must be made swiftly this is not an apt response. Moreover, many steps of Kotters model are not applicable under organizational crisis situations. In organizational crisis, empowering employees can have severe consequences which can lead to further worsening of the crisis. Normally, organizational crisis situations require more planned actions to be taken and employee empowerment undermines planned actions. Similarly, organizing change events under organizational crises is too risky. While change might succeed due to momentum initially, it might eventually lead to resistance after organizational crisis is over, and this might be costly to businesses as OC normally tens to possess a substantiate financial cost. For these reasons, it should be noted that Kotters model is not appropriate under situations of organizational crisis.

Conclusion From the aforementioned analyses and literature reviews, three conclusions can be largely derived. First of all, it was noted that most steps in Kotters model were either key factors to organizational change that were endorsed in recent literature review of OCD, or was supported by logical analysis derived from findings by recent studies in OCD. Subsequently, it was found that other steps were also supported in literature but there also existed literature that largely refuted these steps. Also, analyzing these steps with respect to recent findings resulted in mixed implications that did not illustrate these steps as necessary. Nevertheless, as literature did slightly support all steps in Kotters model, it should be noted that Kotters model was deemed quite appropriate and successful relevant to organizational change. However, later analysis with respect to organizational crisis, showed that this did not apply to crisis situations.


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