Kotter's Leading Change Step 5

Empowering Others to Act on the Vision


The time to empower others to act on the need to change should happen once the foundations are put in place, that is, a considerable way into the overall change process. Kotter's seminal book Leading Change* proposes the urgency for change needs to be established first, a guiding coalition put in place, a vision created and communicated and then we need to remove barriers to allow individuals to act on the vision.

Empowering people by removing as many barriers as possible to implementing the change vision in turns allows as many people as possible to take action towards that vision. The barriers can arise from any of these four sources:

Structural barriers

Will the existing structure align to the vision? Can the organisation's existing structure continue to support the vision once implemented? If there are structural blockers which are not removed, they may cause frustration as individuals work towards the future state but are hindered by an existing organisation structure. They may give up sooner if the structural barriers are not recognised or at least acknowledged.

Skills barriers

You will need the right skills, attitudes and behaviours necessary for the vision to be reality. This may mean training is required or scenarios for individuals to experience what the vision feels like once implemented to remove any potential barriers.

Systems barriers

Do the existing systems and processes support the vision? At this stage removing blockers that stop people taking action towards the new vision rather than fixing or resolving barriers and problems in processes is necessary. This is about empowering people to act rather than implementing the details of the change.

Managers / Supervisors as barriers

Most change or transformation programmes encounter supervisors or managers who block changes, the reasons for this are too many to explore here. Individuals are a product of their history and some will have ingrained habits that may not correlate to the organisation's vision for change. If an individual at a managerial or supervisory level is a blocker they should be dealt with sooner rather than later to minimise the impact on the people who are willing to take steps towards the new vision.

With empowered individuals ready to act and who understand the change vision for the organisation, it is time to plan for and create short-term wins.

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