By Todd Adkins
Rather than give you yet another new twist on a change framework or tool, I think it would serve us well to discuss probably the most utilized change management process ever written by John Kotter in Leading Change. Odds are likely you have read or heard of this book. Even if you are familiar with this framework, I encourage you to continue reading as I explore ideas and exercises for you and your team to process change and move forward.
My approach will be bent toward helping you process change with a group or groups of people and ultimately lead them through change. I will discuss how to create dialogue about change through questions, supplemental tools, and communication strategies. This dialogue will help you define, design, and drive change in your context and talk about how you dedicate resources and democratize the change for everyone. A big part of this approach is simply helping you and your team visualize the problems and progress you are making in leading the change, which evokes positive emotions and outlook needed along the way.
This process also scales. It will help lead an entire church through a major change and works equally as well for someone wanting to make a change in a ministry area. The checkpoints identify where you are in the process and clarify what might help or hinder you in that step. Approach change from the perspective of phases or stages rather than seeing it as an event.
Here are the eight steps of Kotter’s framework for leading change.
- Increase urgency
- Build guiding teams
- Get the vision right
- Communicate for buy-in
- Enable action
- Create short-term wins
- Don’t let up
- Make it stick1
After releasing The Heart of Change, Kotter and Cohen identified three main phases of implementing these eight steps. Phase one is creating a climate for change and involves steps 1-3, which are the most crucial stages. If you get this phase wrong, it is difficult, if not impossible, to recover. You also spend most of your energy to overcome the gravity of the current reality and the status quo. Phase two is about engaging and enabling the organization in the change effort and involves steps 4-6. Phase three focuses on implementing the change and sustaining the success of steps 7-8.2
- Adapted from John Kotter, Leading Change (Boston: Harvard Business Review Press, 2012), 23.
- Dan Cohen, The Heart of Change Field Guide (Boston: Harvard Business School Press, 2005), 11-12.
Adapted from Leading Change in Your Church. Download the FREE ebook here.