Change Management Process – Step 8: Institute Change


Napoleon Hill, American author of Think and Grow Rich, once stated, “Patience, persistence, and perspiration make an unbeatable combination for success.” The same is true for all the work leading to the final step of the change management process‚ÄĒto institute change.

So far, we've discussed the following steps of the 8-step change management process (CMP) created by Dr. John Kotter, Harvard Business School professor and entrepreneur:

Step 1: Creating a sense of urgency

Step 2: Building a guiding coalition 

Step 3: Form the Strategic Vision and Initiatives

Step 4: Enlisting a Volunteer Army

Step 5: Enable Action by Removing Barriers
Step 6: Generate Short-Term Winds

Step 7: Sustain Acceleration

Each step is purposefully crafted to create, implement, and monitor essential actions to achieve the desired change vision.

The last step‚ÄĒstep 8, institute change‚ÄĒconsolidates all the previous steps to cement change initiatives, systems, and environments that align with the change vision. 

This post will discuss the what, how, and why aspects associated with instituting change.

What Does It Mean to Institute Change? 

At this phase of the CMP, the objective is to ensure that change initiatives, systems, and environments thoroughly support the change vision. 

The stronger the support system, structure, and environment, the greater the likelihood of instituting a change as the new and accepted way of doing things.

Instituting change is designed to ensure that the organization has the right systems, environment, and people that support the change vision. This aligned system helps ensure that what were once initiatives are now the new standards and that the standards are the norm. 

The norm is accepted values and beliefs toward the what, why, how, and why things get done within the organization.

Dr. John Kotter encourages leaders to communicate the relationships between the new organizational behaviors and successes thoroughly.

Why Is It Paramount to Institute Change? 

In order for the organizational change to last, it must become a part of the new organizational behavior. 

The more aligned the systems, processes, people, and environment are to the desired organizational behavior, the more likely the desired state will succeed long term. 

This is the stage of the CMP in which the vision becomes a reality. The reality can only continue with a system that supports it. 

Therefore, it is paramount to institute change to move from a vision to an extended, sustained reality. Without doing so, the vision may only exist temporarily.

How to Institute Change in the Workplace 

The previous steps of the CMP have helped to take a change from a concept to a desired new state. 

Let's now look at how to institute change in the workplace to ensure long-term success…

The ability to monitor and sustain the desired state requires a system that solidifies that desired state. Simply put, the organization must have the systems, processes, environment, and people to move from the desired state to simply being the way of doing things. 

In order for the change vision to remain, there must be systems that make it the standard norm. The system should align with the change vision, cement the actions needed, monitor performance, evaluate outliers, and intervene when necessary. 

There are many tools and strategies that may be used to institute change, including the following:

1. Internal Systems 

As part of finalizing the CMP, instituting change means reevaluating systems and procedures to ensure they are compatible with the organization's new direction. 

In addition to introducing new systems, existing processes that don't align with the new objectives will need to be modified or eliminated. 

The process may require significant management and organizational changes. That includes modifying internal and interdepartmental systems that enable core organizational functions, such as…

After establishing the new systems, management needs to reinforce the new behaviors and working practices until they become accepted and routine.

2. Ongoing Training and Development

Overhead shot of a skills development session with training materials on a desk.

By definition, the change process is an upheaval. When the dust settles, there will be new policies, procedures, and systems to learn. Further, there may be new staff members and new leaders to train. 

Therefore, to perform their responsibilities effectively after the change, managers and other team members must develop the new skills and work practices they need. 

To do this, creating a training and development strategy that aligns with the organization's mission and goals will be necessary. One approach that effectively does this is the strategic training and development approach, which requires change managers to: 

It is also important to create training-related performance indicators to evaluate whether the training is effective and help improve it when necessary.

Training should meet each individual's needs and be presented in a clear and engaging way.  

When training meets the needs of the employee, it can also improve confidence and morale. It enables employees to perform better and makes them feel valued.

Choosing a training model that best fits the organization's structure and objectives is also important.

3. Performance Evaluations

Performance evaluations are necessary to gauge how well employees adapt to the changes. The evaluations will help identify interventions or training needed to help employees achieve the new goals set by the organization. 
They will also identify those unable or unwilling to adapt to the new circumstances. If they impede the organization's efforts to thrive after the change process, moving or replacing them may be necessary.

4. Primary and Secondary Data Collection and Analysis 

To measure whether the new direction will achieve the intended strategic goals, it's vital to update your performance indicators. New indicators are also needed to ensure the organization stays on track with the change vision. Continuing to use the existing metrics will only lead the organization back to the old way of doing things. This means revising and adopting new key performance indicators (KPIs) that can be grouped into two broad categories:

5. Communication

A hand-drawn depiction of diverse forms of communication used in business.

Dr. John Kotter encourages leadership to communicate thoroughly about the relationships between the new organizational behaviors and organizational successes. 

It is essential that leadership and change agents communicate clearly and thoroughly about the relevancy and relationships of the desired organizational behaviors. This is necessary to ensure continued commitment to the efforts and have the long-term buy-in of the organizational change.

This includes discussing the benefits the changes bring to the organization. Management should be clear about the importance of the desired behavior through repetition until the newly established norms and values become routine. 

Ultimately, the more aligned the systems, processes, people, and environment are to the desired organizational behavior, the more successfully the organization will move toward the new desired state. 

What was once a change vision is now the reality. The reality can only continue with a system that supports it. And that can only be achieved through the last step of the CMP, which is to institute change.


Step 8: Institute Change is the last and final step of the CMP. This step aims to ensure that the organization has the systems, processes, people, and environment in place to support the reality of sustaining the desired change vision. 

This step cements the change vision to the new organizational reality. 

The ability to align, communicate, and monitor the key internal and external practices that support the new state is essential in sustaining long-term success. 

The more specific communication, training, and systems that illustrate the alignment, relevancy, and process of carrying out the new organizational behavior, the better the chances of sustaining change.


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Filed Under: Leadership

About Katie Carpen, PhD, Thought Leader

Katie has 14+ years of experience in higher education, consulting, recruitment, and mortgage finance industries. Her areas of specialty include change management, conflict management, corporate social responsibility, emotional intelligence, leadership, organizational culture, strategy, and work-life-balance. Katie has served as a relationship manager, associate dean, consultant, subject matter expert, and coach. She is currently active in higher education, coaching, and various causes. She enjoys fostering critical, creative, and strategic thinking by applying concepts across a variety of domains.