Kotter's Leading Change Step 8

Institutionalising New Approaches


The final step in Kotter's process for Leading Change* is the institutionalisation of new approaches into the organisation.

An organisation's behavioural norms and shared values influence behaviour through rewarding those in line with the culture and sanctioning those who step out of line. New practices made as part of the change effort will be more difficult to embed if they are not compatible with the existing culture and values.

Leading Change Institutionalising New Approaches

Change in culture

A change in culture comes after individuals have experienced the change, usually for long periods of time and when the experience is approaching the norm. Individual's actions and behaviours are the key to bringing about changes in culture, and this comes at the end of the change process, not at the beginning.

Kotter states that culture is powerful because of three primary reasons:

  1. Individuals are selected and indoctrinated so well.
  2. Culture exerts itself through the actions of hundreds or thousands of people.
  3. All of this happens without much conscious intent and thus is difficult to challenge or discuss.

Kotter, writing with James L., Heskett, published Corporate Culture and Performance* a few years prior to Leading Change*. It explores the components of corporate culture and discusses behaviours and values in more detail. It is useful in building an understanding of why culture is so important to, and can have a significant impact on, your organisation's change programme.

Cultural change

You will know the change has been anchored in your culture when:

  • It come last, not first in the transformation process.
  • Successful results produce evidence that the new way is better than the old.
  • A lot of discussion has been had supporting individuals to accept and own the new ways of working.
  • There is recognition that a change in key individuals is required where the old culture can not be shed.
  • Processes for promotion and succession reflect the changes so that the old culture does not reassert itself.

Where next?

Kotter has written several books expanding on the topics covered in Leading Change. These include:

A Sense of Urgency* - Increasing urgency is the hardest of the eight steps, Kotter outlines tactics for increasing it while dealing with its nemesis - complacency.

Our Iceberg is Melting* - Bringing the change process to life through a fable about penguins in Antarctica. It includes lessons around how to handle change.

Accelerate: Building Strategic Agility for a Faster-Moving World* - a framework for competing and winning in a world of constant turbulence and disruption by focussing and aligning people's energy and urgency to what Kotter calls "the big opportunity".

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