Jooli Atkins FBCS CITP and Susanna Way MBCS look at step three in the Kotter eight step process of successful change.

Having established the need for change, wrapped a sense of urgency around it and created a guiding team you have, in effect ‘set the stage’.

According to Professor John P Kotter Step 3 now requires you to create a vision to help direct the change effort and develop strategies for achieving that vision.

This vision is an essential element in overcoming resistance to change. Beckhard, Harris and Gleicher developed a formula (often referred to as Gleicher’s formula or the Formula for Change) for overcoming resistance to change. It states that dissatisfaction with the status quo, the vision of the possibility the change can bring and the first steps in the direction of change must be greater than the resistance to change.

Dissatisfaction should be evident in the burning platform, so your vision and the strategies to achieving it are the two remaining factors.

Most L&D teams live with change (and finding palatable ways of communicating it) as part of their everyday work and so are likely to be good ambassadors for change, even at its early stages. They are also usually very close to the business and will be able to help change managers to understand what needs to change in different parts of the business.

It’s no use telling people that there’s a problem and that they have to change without accepting their initial resistance and working to overcome it with benefits. Strategic benefits for the whole organisation are unlikely to push buttons at the coal face, so use L&D to help you to understand the WIIFMs (‘What’s in it for me’) for different parts of the business. You can then begin to communicate your vision and steps to achieving change to your colleagues in ways that they each understand in their own context.

Kotter suggests effective visions have six key characteristics. They are:

  • Imaginable
  • Desirable
  • Feasible
  • Focused
  • Flexible
  • Communicable

Think about these characteristics as you set the vision for where you want to be. The other piece of work in this stage is to define the plan / strategy / steps required in order to turn the vision into reality. Or in other words, this is how we are going to get there!

About the Kotter 8 step process of successful change

About the authors

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.