Kotter and Cohen: "The Heart of Change"

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September 2007

In Leading Change (Harvard Business School Press, 1996), John Kotter first introduced an eight step model for organizational change:

  1. Increase urgency
  2. Build guiding teams
  3. Get the vision right
  4. Communicate for buy-in
  5. Enable action
  6. Create short-term wins
  7. Don’t let up
  8. Make change stick

Follow-up research conducted with Dan Cohen and Deloitte Consulting, consisting of interviews with more than 200 people at over 90 organizations around the world, and described in The Heart of Change (Harvard Business School Press, 2002), indicated that the model in itself was not sufficient. Successful organizational change involved emotion as well as analysis: a ‘see - feel - change’ approach rather than a strictly ‘analyze - think - change’ approach. In one example, to demonstrate the cost of individual purchasing, a collection of the 424 similar types of gloves purchased throughout the organization, with the different price paid for each glove, was displayed on the boardroom table for unit leaders to see. The display illustrated the need to change the process and reduce costs, resulting in an opportunity to allocate resources more effectively. Taking the application of the eight step model further, in The Heart of Change Field Guide (Harvard Business School Press, 2005), Cohen provides approaches and tools that can be used at each step of the model to engage people and lead them through successful change.