Management: Leading Change by John P. Kotter

Management: Leading Change by John P. Kotter

MNGT 5590 OE| Integrative Paper| | | Spring 1 2011| 2/20/2011| | Introduction: There are many factors that impose organizational change which include technological, international economic and opening market forces. These forces can create more risks and opportunities for organizations. Change is inevitable, in order to successfully bring an organization into the twenty-first century, this must be recognized. There are many ways for an organization to achieve change; some are scientific theories like those stated in Organizational Behavior and Management written by John Ivancevich, while others stated in Leading Change by John P.

Kotter believe it’s about paying attention to your employees. One can find the relationship between the books to be fascinating as the authors appear to be consistent in one another’s ideas, but one author, Kotter, offers a situational approach that one can relate to, while the other, Ivancevich, provided the research and theories on the effective use of human resources. John P. Kotter has developed an eight-step process to assist those in need of change to achieve their goals and avoid the areas where processes can go a rye.

Kotter’s eight steps are: 1) to Establish a Sense of Urgency, 2) Create the Guiding Coalition, 3) Develop a Vision and Strategy, 4) Communicate the Change Vision, 5) Empower Employees for Broad-Based Action, 6) Generate Short Term Wins, 7) Consolidate Gains and Produce More Change, and 8) Anchor New Approaches in the Culture. While Kotter doesn’t have any scientific proof to back up his theories, there are others like Ivancevich who have conducted research regarding change. Ivancevich uses many theories and research to back up his writings about change in an organizational setting.

The theories that I can relate most to Kotter’s approach are those involving motivation. It seems most apparent to me that the motivation of employees is deep rooted into the process of organizational change. Unless employees are motivated to work towards the change goals, the change fail. Without the motivation of employees, organizational change would be unsuccessful. Discussion: The purpose of Kotter’s first stage is to create a sense of urgency. Individuals and organizations need a reason to change. Establishing a sense of urgency is crucial to gaining needed cooperation.

With complacency high and urgency low it’s hard to motivate a group of people to work towards a much needed change. (JK 36) Motivation is one of the most important concepts managers can use to improve performance towards the change effort. In order to motivate people to be involved in the change, Kotter states that “visible crises can be enormously helpful in catching people’s attention and pushing up urgency”. (JK 44) Increasing urgency, especially revealing the negative facts, will give employees motivation to work towards the change.

According to Ivancevich, motivation refers to the person’s willingness to exert effort in a specific direction or way, at a given level of intensity, and for a given duration. (I 121) It’s up to the employee to decide whether or not to jump on board with the change initiative. Direction relates to what an individual chooses to do when presented with a number of possible alternatives. (I 121) In the case of a change, the employee could choose to work towards the change, sticking with the status quo. Ivancevich presents several motivation theories. In McClelland’s Learned Needs Theory he states that needs are acquired from the culture.

The main theme of this theory is that needs are learned through coping with one’s environment. McClelland contends that when a need is strong in a person, its effect is to motivate the person to use behavior that leads to its satisfaction. (I 130) Kotter and Ivancevich, though using different methods, are consistent with regards to motivation. A sense of urgency is essentially a motivational technique, in the sense that they both are pushing employees to a specified goal. In order to put change into action within an organization a strong guiding coalition is needed.

Forming a guiding coalition is Kotter’s second stage. The right combination of individuals, level of trust, and shared vision is vital to the success of a team. Kotter states, “you need both management and leadership skills on the guiding coalition, and they must work in tandem, teamwork. ” (JK57) He believes without both management and leadership a change effort will not succeed. In order to create a successful team that can direct a change effort one must choose employees with four key characteristics: position power, expertise, credibility, and leadership.

According to Kotter, an effective team is built upon trust. Teamwork on a guiding change coalition can be created in many different ways. But regardless of the process used, one component is necessary: trust. (JK61) The motivational component of intensity, or effort, refers to the strength of the response once the choice is made. (I 121) Meaning, if the employee chooses to work toward the change effort they can either work hard to reach the goals of the change, put in much needed effort, or they can response with little intensity because they are skeptical of the change.

When forming a coalition you first need to filter out employees that have low intensity, you need a team of people who are eager for a change and are willing to put in the effort to make the change happen. According to Ivancevich, a team is viewed as a mature group comprising people with interdependence, motivation, and shared commitment to accomplish agreed-upon goals. A total commitment to common goals and accountability to the team is what makes a team stand out and distinguish itself. (I 293) A team that specifically relates to what Kotter speaks of would be a cross-functional team.

Ivancevich defines a cross-functional team is one consisting of members for different functional departments. This type of team is formed to address a specific problem using skills, competencies, and experience of individuals from diverse areas within a firm can increase solidarity, trust, and performance. (I 294) Both Kotter and Ivancevich are consistent in the belief that trust is a key player in a team. Without trust a team will be unsuccessful with the change effort. The third stage in Kotter’s eight stage process is to create the change vision.

According to Kotter, a vision refers to a picture of the future with some implicit or explicit commentary on why people should strive to create that future. (JK 68) The vision is the explanation of why an organizational change is needed. The vision must clearly explain the outcome, the change, and how the organization will look after that change. It, itself is motivating. The vision should convey a picture of what the future will look like, be comprised of realistic, attainable goals, and is clear enough to provide guidance. (JK 72) Ivancevich shares a discussion of charismatic leadership which emphasizes isionary leadership. It’s argued that the first requirement for exercising charismatic leadership is expressing a shared vision of what the future could be. Through communication ability, the visionary charismatic leader links followers’ needs and goals to organizational goals. Visionary charismatic leaders have the ability to see both the big picture and the opportunities the big picture presents. (I 459) One of the main attributes to a visionary leader is developing visionary thinking. They establish idealized goals that represent significant improvements over the status quo. I 459) Ivancevich uses the example of a visionary charismatic leader known as Felipe Alfonso, head of AIM and CEO of MERALCO. Felipe was considered a tireless and charismatic leader who formulated a vision of the future, while bringing people together to seize opportunities. (I 459) Visualizing the “big picture” seems to be the theme for both Kotter and Ivancevich. The vision is based off what the future holds for the organization and the people involved. Being able to express to the team members what you what out of the future of the organization is important in a successful change operation.

The fourth stage is communicating the change vision. “The real power of a vision is unleashed only when most of those involved in an enterprise or activity have a common understanding of its goals and direction. (JK 85) Some key elements, Kotter outlines, in the effective communication of vision are multiple forums, and repetition. When employees have access to multiple forums they are able to see the same message come to them from multiple different directions, which increases the chance of the message being heard and remembered. (JK 93) Also, repetition is key in communication.

Since our minds are so cluttered, any communication has to fight other ideas for our attention. As a result, effective information transfer almost always relies on repetition (JK 94) Communication assists organizational members to accomplish both individual and organizational goals, implement and respond to organizational change (I 371) Communication is an ongoing and not a onetime factor in successful changes programs. Ever more, communication is always needed in major change programs. It can educate and prepare the employees in a way that reduces fear, anxiety, and resistance. I 523) Ivancevich writes that a learning organization should have open discussions and accessibility to information and data, clear vision expressed at all levels, and clear goals and concepts of performance expectations. (I 523) Team members need information to accomplish their objectives. The failure of many team efforts can be traced directly to management’s unwillingness to share information with the teams it has created. (I298) Team members must be well versed in the company’s philosophy regarding the team, the team mission, and new roles and responsibilities individuals will have as a consequence of being part of the team. I 298) Much like Kotter’s seven key element of communication, Ivancevich mentions common communication channels: face-to-face, telephone conversions, memos, letters, and bulletin boards. (I 380) Ivancevich also introduces repetition or redundancy into communication which ensures that if part of the message is not understood other parts will carry the same message. (I 393) Both Kotter and Ivancevich stress the importance of knowing and understanding their goals and objectives. They both are consistent with multiple forms, offering a variety of options for presenting communication including: memos, letters, and bulletin boards.

They are also in agreement about repetition. They share the idea that repeating meaningful information helps team members retain, and remember the vision. Kotter’s fifth stage requires empowering team members. A “major internal transformation rarely happens unless many people assist. Yet employees generally won’t help, or can’t help, if they feel relatively powerless. ” (JK 102) This is where Kotter gets the importance of empowering employees, which motivates them to put forth an effort to continually help with change.

Kotter also speaks of removing barriers to help the change effort. Kotter mentions how a manager should remove barriers to change by ensuring that their current structure does not obstruct the vision, therefore preventing change. He stated “I’ve seen many cases in which organizational arrangements undermine a vision by disempowering people. ” (JK105) Whenever structural barriers are not removed in a timely way, the risk is that employees will become so frustrated that they will sour on the entire transformational effort. JK106) In an example that Ivancevich used in his text, Smith, CEO of Bell Atlantic, stated that “Signs of progress include breaking down barriers between departments, sharing resources, and developing attitudes that encourage teamwork and idea sharing. ” (I 519) Smith attributes much of his success to creating a sense of empowerment among Bell employees. Therefore, they believe if they act for the good of the company and succeed, they and the company prosper. (I 519) They can both agree that the removal of organizational barriers is very important to empowering team members.

With barriers in the way of the change effort, team members can find themselves losing motivation, thinking what’s the point in making the effort when there are so many obstacles to overcome? By empowering the team members you are giving them the motivation to see past the obstructions, and work for the change. Creating short-term wins is the next stage in Kotter’s eight stage process. As Kotter explains in the beginning, all team members must have the same sense of urgency or “the momentum for change will probably die far short of the finish line. (JK 36) Showing the employees the short-term wins motivates the team members to bring change completely as they will be able to see the results happening in front of them, much like evidence of their hard work. Recognizing and rewarding team members contributing to the improvements that have came from the short-term wins is also a motivator. The roles of short-term wins are to show people that the sacrifices are paying off, that they are getting stronger (JK 122) Creating those wins also provides the guiding coalition with concrete feedback about the validity of their vision. (JK 121) Short-term wins help build necessary momentum. JK 124) It motivates those skeptical of the change to support and follow through with it. Ivancevich describes persistence, as a component of motivation, as the staying power of behavior or how long a person will continue to devote effort. (I 121) In order for a change to be successful, persistence needs to be long-term. In his text, Ivancevich introduces the theory of appreciative inquiry as a method of focusing on positive aspects or potential opportunity. (I 537) It gives the team members something good to look forward to, hopefully motivating them to keep up with the change effort for the long-term.

Also the text introduces Vroom’s Expectancy Theory. His expectancy theory is a theory of motivation that suggests employees are most likely to be motivated when they perceive their efforts will result in successful performance and ultimately, desired outcomes. (I 132) Creating short-term wins could boost team member’s persistence to complete the change because they want to continue to see result. Like Kotter and Ivancevich both write, showing the team members a positive relationship between what they have done, and what they have gained boosts their motivational efforts towards the change.

Stage seven is consolidating improvements. Kotter argues that many change initiatives fail because victory is declared too early. An early win is not enough to constitute a successful change. This stage is about continuous improvement and analyzing what worked for the change and what didn’t. It’s important to strengthen the change process. At this point some people will want to quit, but in a successful transformation the guiding coalition uses the credibility afforded by the short-term win to push forward faster, tackling even more or bigger projects. JK 140) Thus, reengineering should be undertaken. In this stage Kotter advises that a total reworking of the strategic planning process should be scheduled. But to restructure, reengineer, and change strategic planning, you find that you also have to alter training programs, modify information systems, add or subtract staff, and introduce new performance appraisal systems. (JK 140) According to Ivancevich reengineering is the process of creating radical changes in process, systems, and/or structures that meet the needs efficiently and are economically sound. I 529) Reengineering consist of a process that evolves from unfreezing processes, reinventing new processes, and freezing them. (I 529) With the changes of reengineering, the new approach must be implemented with careful training, education, and documentation to prevent the old structure and processes from reappearing. (I 529) Kotter and Ivancevich are consistent in their beliefs that reengineering the processes to tailor to the change’s needs is important. They both express the fact that while doing this, team members should be trained and educated on the importance and the effect of the new processes implemented.

Anchoring the changes is the final stage. Kotter looks at corporate culture as being made up of both the norms of group behavior and the shared values of a company. The norms of behavior are common or pervasive ways of acting that are found in a group and that persist because group members tend to behave in ways that teach these practices to new members. Shared values are important concerns and goals shared by most of the people in a group that tend to shape group behavior and that often persist over time even when group membership changes. JK 148) New practices need to grow deep roots, ones that sink down into the core culture or were strong enough to replace it. (JK 147) When the new practices made in a transformation effort are not compatible with the relevant cultures, they will always be subject to regression. Change in a work group, a division, or an entire company can come undone, even after years of effort, because the new approaches haven’t been anchored firmly in group norms and values. (JK148) Ivancevich explains organizational culture as the pervasive system of values, beliefs, and norms that exists in any organization.

The organizational culture can encourage or discourage effectiveness, depending on the nature of the values, beliefs, and norms. (I 539) A proposed change in work methods can run counter to the expectations and attitudes of the work group. (I 539) Implementing a method that doesn’t consider the constraints imposed by prevailing conditions within the present organization may, of course, amplify the problem that triggered the process. (I 539) Ivancevich uses an example of NASA to show his point. NASA moved from its manned space mission to a successful lunar landing in just over eight years.

While technological issues and resource availability may partially explain their success, the change in NSAS organizational culture may be the leading reason for NASA’s success. Kotter and Ivancevich can both come to agree that culture plays a huge role in whether or not a change will be successful or not. Without the change being anchored into the culture of the organization, they both agree, failure will follow because an organizations culture is what rules how an organization acts. Conclusion:

In looking back at the eight stages Kotter presents, one would see and agree that thought they take different routes; both Kotter and Ivancevich are consistent in their theories on how to successfully make organizational changes. According to Kotter’s text, I find that changing people’s behavior is the main challenge in all eight stages. The central challenge is not strategy, not systems, not structure, not culture. Though these elements are very important in the change process, the core issues are with behavior; what people do, and the need for major shifts in what they do.

It can be found that Ivancevich makes a very similar claim, “a necessary prerequisite to effective, lasting organizational change is individual change. Structural, task, or technological transformations will ultimately fail if the individuals involved are not receptive to change. “(I 532) Citation (JK)“Leading Change” by John Kotter. Harvard Business School Press, 1996 (I) “Organizational Behavior and Management” by Ivancevich, Konopaske, and Matterson. McGraw-Hill, 2011

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