Leading Change by John P. Kotter

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Publisher’s Description

John Kotter’s now-legendary eight-step process for managing change with positive results has become the foundation for leaders and organizations across the globe. By outlining the process every organization must go through to achieve its goals, and by identifying where and how even top performers derail during the change process, Kotter provides a practical resource for leaders and managers charged with making change initiatives work. Leading Change is widely recognized as his seminal work and is an important precursor to his newer ideas on acceleration published in Harvard Business Review.

Our Insight

Named by TIME magazine in 2011 as one of the “Top 25 Most Influential Business Management Books” of all time, Kotter’s best-selling (over one million copies sold since 1996) outlines a now famous 8 Step process for managing change.  This 8 Step Model has become one of the preeminent and most widely used “recipes” for leaders faced with change management. Briefly, the 8 steps are:

  1. Create a Sense of Urgency
  2. Build a Guiding Coalition
  3. Form a Strategic Vision and Initiatives
  4. Enlist a Volunteer Army
  5. Enable Action by Removing Barriers
  6. Generate Short-Term Wins
  7. Sustain Acceleration
  8. Institute Change


Kotter’s work is popular and a well-established approach to Change Management.

Kotter’s credentials are impressive: he holds a B.S. and M.S. from MIT and a PhD from Harvard. Upon receiving his PhD, he joined the Harvard Business School faculty and was later named the Konosuke Matsushita Professor of Leadership.   He has also received awards for thought leadership from the Harvard Business Review, Bloomberg, and BusinessWeek among others


The book is based mainly on Kotter’s personal experience and does not cite any studies or research outside of his own.

The 8 step model employs a “Waterfall” methodology (one step cannot be started until the previous step is complete).  This approach has been overtaken by the more current “Agile” methodology, which is an iterative series of development cycles.

Publisher: Harvard Business Review Press

ISBN: 9781422186435

Published: November 6, 2012