Create the guiding coalition

In the third of a series of joint posts Jooli Atkins FBCS CITP and Susanna Way MBCS look at the Kotter eight step process of successful change. Step 2: Create the Guiding Coalition.

No this is not about just creating a special projects team, allocating a ‘code name’, shrouding them in a veil of secrecy and expecting them to deliver successful change.

In his 1996 book, 'Leading Change', Professor John P Kotter defines this as creating a guiding coalition. It is the stage at which you assemble a group with enough power to lead the change and encourage them to work as a team.

Now you may be thinking about power in terms of authority but in this context, it’s about influence. Creating a team that has influence is the key to leading change and including someone from the L&D and communications teams will help you understand what strategies are most effective when influencing behaviours in your organisation. 

They will have experience of those that work and those that do not and so can provide a shortcut to lessons that may be painful and time-consuming for you to learn for yourself.

In addition to authority and influence, consider the following when creating a powerful and effective guiding team:

  • Take time to define a shared objective for the team, and ensure that the team members understand and agree to it.
  • Introduce ‘trust’ as a concept. You cannot force trust, but you can invite it by carefully planning activities or discussions around how the team will work, and what trust means to individuals.
  • Is there relevant and current expertise included in the guiding team? Without the appropriate information available the validity of decisions being taken by the team could be questioned.
  • The people in the team should be respected by those who are most affected by the change. Credibility is needed to ensure that the actions that the team initiate will be taken seriously.
  • Strong leadership, to drive the change process.
  • Good communication skills, both internal and external to the team.

Having created a sense of urgency (see Step one) and created a guiding coalition, we can now move to deciding what to do...this will be covered in the next blog.

For more information on the Kotter 8 step process of successful change visit the website.

Jooli Atkins FBCS CITP is Chair of The BCS Learning and Development Specialist Group - the only professional body solely dedicated to supporting L&D professionals working in IT.

Susanna Way MBCS CITP is also a member of the BCS Learning and Development Specialist Group and has a special interest in extending our online presence and engaging more closely with our members.

The BCS Learning and Development Specialist Group comprises members with many years of experience in implementing successful IT- enabled business change and we organise a programme of regular face to face and online meetings. Meetings are usually free to join and open to anyone interested in L&D whether as a practitioner or a colleague. If you are interested in engaging with the Group or in discussing ideas for working with L&D in IT-enabled business change, visit our page

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About the author
Jooli Atkins (FBCS, CITP) has been involved in the IT profession for the past 25 years, mainly in Learning and Development. She is the Chair of the BCS Learning and Development Specialist Group and CITP assessor as well as being an accredited SFIA consultant, specialising in Business Change.

See all posts by Jooli Atkins

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