Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Kotter Theory vs. Practice

The Classic Mis-use of Kotter's 8 Steps

Traditional CM "Push"
I was talking to Gail Severini (a.k.a. Change Whisperer) from Conner Partners the other day and found myself mentioning Seely Brown's Push-Pull concept again.  In a prior post, I highlighted the following aspects of a "push" program:

1. Top-down
2. Tightly coupled
3. Few participants

Sound like any strategic change 
project you're aware of?

Pushing the 8 Steps
As I thought about Push in the context of Kotter's model, I imagined the table you see above.  In most "less than successful" change projects, the Tops drive steps 1, 2, and 3.  Step 4 is the Tops using HR or Communication to PUSH "their" change downhill.  

I found it ironic that what Kotter envisioned as empowerment is often the stage where resistance takes over.

Because participation is normally restricted in steps 1, 2, and 3, the Middles & Bottoms lack ownership.  People support what they help create.  People do NOT support what they do NOT help create.  I looked at Phillip's (McKinsey early 80s) change management model and thought about Kotter's 8 steps.  This is what it looks like to me:

8 Steps Look Top-Heavy


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