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John Kotter's Change Management Model Applied to Late Career Wellbeing

Posted by Joe Antle on January 6, 2020 4:55 PM EST
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A couple of years ago I wrote a blog about applying John Kotter's 8 step process for change management to the issue of improving population health and wellbeing at scale.  You may recall that Professor Kotter is the well-renown  Havard Business School professor, author and researcher on change management....

...whose written many books and articles, consulted and lectured on the topic of change management.  As a recognized expert in organizational change management, I thought it would be interesting to see how his principles for managing successful organizational change could be applied to professionals managing the process of change in their careers, especially those who are in late career.

Here's a link to the original blog posting from 2017 for those of you who may not have read it :or don't recall it):

So, here goes.  (NOTE:  I've placed in italics the interpretation of each of Kotter's steps to the topic of successful late career changes).

John Kotter’s 8-Step Model for Change Management

1 CREATE A SENSE OF URGENCY:  Help others see the need for change through a bold, aspirational opportunity statement that communicates the importance of acting immediately.


Late-Career Change Application: Write a "Mission, Vision, Objectives statement for the remainder of your career.  Identify the factors that are present that make the need for change in your career urgent.


2 BUILD A GUIDING COALITION:  A volunteer army needs a coalition of effective people – born of its own ranks – to guide it, coordinate it, and communicate its activities.


Late-Career Change Application: 

Connect with your loyal network of friends, family and colleagues and seek their advice and counsel in the beginning and all along the change path.


3 FORM A STRATEGIC VISION AND INITIATIVES:  Clarify how the future will be different from the past and how you can make that future a reality through initiatives linked directly to the vision.


Late-Career Change Application: Make sure that when you create your formal Mission, Vision and Objectives statement in Step 1 that you articulate a bold, but relevant picture of what your future can be when the change works.


4 ENLIST A VOLUNTEER ARMY:  Large-scale change can only occur when massive numbers of people rally around a common opportunity.  They must be bought-in and urgent to drive change – moving in the same direction.


Late-Career Change Application: 

This one is not as clear from a personal career change perspective, however, the idea here is to find others who are either in your personal and professional network or find new members of it who are pursuing the same type or scale of change as you plan to do.


5 ENABLE ACTION BY REMOVING BARRIERS:  Removing barriers such as inefficient processes and hierarchies provides the freedom necessary to work across silos and generate real impact.


Late-Career Change Application: 

There will be hurdles to overcome and challenges.  Identify them and be prepared to go around them or jump through them.  Don't let challenges derail you from the bright vision you have of your renewed and revitalized career.


6 GENERATE SHORT-TERM WINS:  Wins are the molecules of results. They must be recognized, collected and communicated – early and often – to track progress and energize volunteers.


Late-Career Change Application: 

Keep track of the milestones you achieve along the way.  Celebrate them and share with your network of personal change agents.  Look back from time to time to appreciate how far you have come and prepare for next steps along your journey of change.


7 SUSTAIN ACCELERATION:  Press harder after the first successes. Your increasing credibility can improve systems, structures and policies. Be relentless with initiating change after change until the vision is a reality.


Late-Career Change Application: 

As Winston Churchill famously said, "Never give up, Never, Never Give up".  And move faster as you see progress unfolding.


 8 INSTITUTE CHANGE:  Articulate the connections between the new behaviors and organizational success, making sure they continue until they become strong enough to replace old habits.

Late-Career Change Application: 

Practice what's working and continue to build on it.  Don't take your newfound and profound change success for granted.  Cultivate it like a garden, keep the negative "weeds" out, prune the branches and admire your success and savor the journey!



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