John Kotter – Change Management and Leadership

John Kotter

John Kotter – Change Management and Leadership – Contents

  • John Kotter Biography
  • John Kotter’s Big Idea: Change Management and Leadership
  • Interesting Facts and Insights about John Kotter
  • Career Advice Quotes by John Kotter
  • Business Advice Quotes by John Kotter
  • Leadership and Management Advice Quotes by John Kotter
  • John Kotter Inspirational Quotes
  • Books by John Kotter
  • Common Questions about John Kotter
  • Videos about John Kotter

John Kotter Biography

John Kotter is a Professor of Leadership at the Harvard Business School and a best-selling author. He is a recognized thought leader in the fields of business, leadership, and change.

John Kotter’s bestselling book, “Leading Change” in 1996, is considered his seminal work in the field of change management. This book helped create Kotter’s Big Idea of the 8-Step Change Model for implementing large-scale change successfully.

John Kotter is also the founder of Kotter International, a management consulting firm based in Seattle and Boston, focused on Change Management and Change Leadership services.


John Kotter’s Big Idea: Change Management and Leadership

John Kotter’s 8-Step Process for Leading Change has become the benchmark model for managing large-scale change and consists of eight stages include:

  1. Create a Sense of Urgency: This initial step is part of educating and communicate the need for change. This can be achieved by creating an aspirational opportunity statement that communicates the urgency of acting to change.
  2. Build a Guiding Coalition: A coalition of active stakeholders is required to sponsor, guide, coordinate, and communicate the necessary changes.
  3. Form a Strategic Vision and Initiatives: Clarify and communicate how to make that future state a reality through an Action Plan linked directly to the Strategic Vision.
  4. Enlist a Volunteer Army: Large-scale change requires the large numbers of team members committing to a Joint Action Plan and Vision. Committed Team members need to be engaged to drive and champion the change.
  5. Enable Action by Removing Barriers: In Organisation Change Management barriers such as inefficient processes and hierarchies need to be removed to enable change across departmental silos to create organizational-wide change.
  6. Generate Short-Term Wins: All wins, no matter how small are stepping stones to the final result and need to be recognized, celebrated, and communicated. This is required to demonstrate progress and to energize and nurture the effort for change.
  7. Sustain Acceleration: With every win, increasing momentum is required to change systems, structures, and policies. A relentless effort is needed to drive change, so the change does not stale until the vision is achieved.
  8. Institute Change: Communicate and demonstrate how the changes are contributing to the organization’s success. The reinforcement of the change needs to be reinforced to ensure that the change is permanent.

Interesting Facts and Insights about John Kotter

  • Born: John Paul Kotter was born in 1947 in San Diego, California, U.S
  • MIT: Kotter graduated from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology with a Bachelor of Science in electrical engineering in 1968.
  • Management: Kotter completed a Master of Science in Management in 1970 also at Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
  • Ph.D.: Kotter completed his Doctor of Business Administration in 1972 at Harvard Business School.
  • Harvard: Kotter joined the Harvard Business School faculty in 1972 and received tenure and a full professorship in 1981.
  • Retirement: Kotter retired as a full-time faculty member from Harvard in 2001.
  • Author: Kotter is the author of 20 books.
  • Kotter International: Kotter co-founded Kotter International in 2008, where he currently serves as Chairman.
  • HBR: Kotter’s educational articles in the Harvard Business Review magazine continue to be among the magazine’s top sellers.
  • Home: Kotter lives in Cambridge, Massachusetts and Ashland, New Hampshire.
  • Family: Kotter is married to Nancy Dearman and they have two children.

“We see, we feel, we change.”

– John Kotter

Career Advice Quotes by John Kotter

“In an ever-changing world, you never learn it all, even if you keep growing into your 90s.”

“We learn best – and change – from hearing stories that strike a chord within us.”

“Tales with a little drama are remembered far longer than any slide crammed with analytics.”

“Effective leaders help others to understand the necessity of change and to accept a common vision of the desired outcome.”

“Changing behavior is less a matter of giving people analysis to influence their thoughts than helping them to see a truth to influence their feelings.”


Business Advice Quotes by John Kotter

“A higher rate of urgency does not imply ever-present panic, anxiety, or fear. It means a state in which complacency is virtually absent.”

“Tradition is a very powerful force.”

“The central issue is never strategy, structure, culture, or systems. The core of the matter is always about changing the behavior of people.”

“The rate of change is not going to slow down anytime soon. If anything, competition in most industries will probably speed up even more in the next few decades.”

“One of the most common ways to overcome resistance to change is to educate people about it beforehand.”

“Good communication is not just data transfer. You need to show people something that addresses their anxieties, that accepts their anger, that is credible in a very gut-level sense, and that evokes faith in the vision.”

“Communication of ideas helps people see the need for and the logic of a change. The education process can involve one-on-one discussions, presentations to groups, or memos and reports.”

“Managers are trained to make incremental, programmatic improvements. They aren’t trained to lead large-scale change.”

“Without short-term wins, too many employees give up or actively join the resistance.”


Leadership and Management Advice Quotes by John Kotter

“A great change leader creates other change leaders.”

“Leadership produces change. That is its primary function”

“Without credible communication, and a lot of it, the hearts and minds of others are never captured.”

“Effective leaders help others to understand the necessity of change and to accept a common vision of the desired outcome.”

“Effective leaders help others to understand the necessity of change and to accept a common vision of the desired outcome.”

“Because management deals mostly with the status quo and leadership deals mostly with the change, in the next century we are going to have to try to become much more skilled at creating leaders.”

“Leadership is about setting a direction. It’s about creating a vision, empowering and inspiring people to want to achieve the vision, and enabling them to do so with energy and speed through an effective strategy.”

“In its most basic sense, leadership is about mobilizing a group of people to jump into a better future.”

“Management makes a system work. It helps you do what you know how to do. Leadership builds systems or transforms old ones.”

“A useful rule of thumb: Whenever you cannot describe the vision driving a change initiative in five minutes or less and get a reaction that signifies both understanding and interest, you are in for trouble.”


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John Kotter Inspirational Quotes

“Leaders establish the vision for the future and set the strategy for getting there.”

“We learn best – and change – from hearing stories that strike a chord within us.”

“We see, we feel, we change.”

“The heart of change is in the emotions.”

“Never underestimate the power of a good story.”

“Neurologists say that our brains are programmed much more for stories than for abstract ideas. Tales with a little drama are remembered far longer than any slide crammed with analytics.”


Books by John Kotter

  • Leading Change: An Action Plan from the World’s Foremost Expert on Business Leadership, by John Kotter, 1988
  • A Sense of Urgency, by John Kotter, 2008
  • Our Iceberg is Melting: Changing and Succeeding Under Any Conditions, by Holger Rathgeber and John Kotter, 2006
  • The Heart of Change: Real-Life Stories of How People Change Their Organizations, by John Kotter, 2002
  • Accelerate: Building Strategic Agility for a Faster-Moving World, by John Kotter, 2014
  • That’s Not How We Do It Here! A Story about How Organizations Rise and Fall–and Can Rise Again, by Holger Rathgeber and John Kotter, 2016
  • Buy-In: Saving Your Good Idea from Getting Shot Down, by John Kotter and Lorne A. Whitehead, 2010
  • Force For Change: How Leadership Differs from Management, by John Kotter, 1990
  • Accelerate, by John Kotter, 2019
  • Power and Influence, by John Kotter, 1985
  • John P. Kotter on What Leaders Really Do, by John Kotter, 1990
  • Corporate Culture and Performance, by James L. Heskett and John Kotter, 1992
  • The General Managers, by John Kotter, 1982
  • Matsushita Leadership, by John Kotter, 1997
  • The Leadership Factor, by John Kotter, 1998
  • The New Rules: How to Succeed in Today’s Post-corporate World, by John Kotter, 1995
  • Managing Your Boss, by John J. Gabarro and John Kotter, 2008

Common Questions about John Kotter


“Nothing undermines change more than behavior by important individuals that is inconsistent with the verbal communication.”

– John Kotter

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Videos about John Kotter

Accelerate! The Evolution of the 21st Century Organization

That’s Not How We Do It Here!


“Leaders establish the vision for the future and set the strategy for getting there.”

– John Kotter

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