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The idea of Establishing a Sense of Urgency – is from John Kotter’s 8-step model for change.

It emphasises that to make change happen, people must really feel the need for change; creating a “burning platform”, because it’s only when people are convinced that change needs to happen, and happen quickly, that things will start to move.

To build momentum for change, people need to understand the reasons behind change; the WHY has to be clear, so they can buy into it. This helps them really “feel it in their gut” as well as understand it intellectually.

It takes a lot of energy to shift away from the status quo and move towards what you want instead. And the greater the challenge the more compelling the reasons need to be. This applies just as much to change initiatives in organisations as it does to us at a personal level.

Kotter’s 8 step change model

1. Establish a sense of urgency
Examine market and competitive realities
Identify and discussing challenges, potential crises or opportunities

2. Build the guiding coalition
Assemble a group with enough power to lead the change effort
Encourage the group to work together as a team

3. Develop a vision and a strategy
Create a vision to help direct the change effort
Encourage the group to work together as a team

4. Communicate for buy-in
Use every vehicle possible to communicate the new vision and strategies
Teach new behaviours by the example of the guiding coalition (walking the talk)

5. Empower people to take action
Remove obstacles to change
Overcome resistance
Change systems or structures that undermine the vision
Encourage risk taking and non-traditional ideas and activities

6. Create short-term wins
Plan for visible performance improvements
Create those improvements
Recognise and rewarding employees involved in improvements

7. Consolidate gains and produce more change – don’t let up
Use increased credibility to change systems and structures that don’t fit the vision
Reinvigorate the process with new projects, themes and change agents

8. Anchor new approaches in the culture – make it stick
Articulate the connections between new behaviours and corporate success
Develop the means to ensure leadership development and succession

Click here to download this quick reference guide for help with applying Kotter’s 8 step change model.