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Written by Marijn Overvest | Reviewed by Sjoerd Goedhart | Fact Checked by Ruud Emonds | Our editorial policy

Kotter’s Theory — Embracing Sustainability in Procurement

Key takeaways

  • Kotter’s theory of change is a comprehensive 8-step model designed to help leaders successfully implement organizational change.
  • It provides simple and easy-to-follow instructions, allowing managers to closely monitor progress and take necessary actions.
  • Kotter’s theory involves all employees, fostering a sense of significance and enabling a more comprehensive change from the bottom up.

Kotter’s theory of change helps companies to introduce change in the business. However, what is it?

This article will discuss what Kotter’s theory is and the benefits you can gain by using it to change your business operation, especially your procurement process. Additionally, we will teach you the eight phases of Kotter’s theory of change.

After reading this article, you will gain a deeper insight into Kotter’s theory. Additionally, you will be able to implement sustainable changes effectively in your procurement process. So without further ado, let us now start!

Kotter’s Theory of Change: What is it?

Everything is susceptible to change, especially businesses that always need to adapt to the changing demands and tastes of their consumers. New strategies, initiatives, risks, improvements, and opportunities are what drive changes in a business. 

However, the big question is, where do you start? There are multiple theories out there that can help you implement change in your business. Though there is a theory that is often used by many businesses which is Kotter’s theory. 

Kotter’s theory is developed by John Kotter, a Harvard Business School professor, and is designed to help leaders successfully implement organizational change. 

This method outlines an 8-step model that is popular as it provides easy-to-follow directions for managers to implement change in their organizations, even if they are not experts in the field. 

Furthermore, Kotter’s theory emphasizes the importance of leadership and communication in driving change in the business. It also suggests that a systematic approach is needed to overcome resistance to change and ensure successful implementation.

The Benefits of Using Kotter’s Model of Change

1. Easy-to-follow instructions

Kotter’s theory of change provides simple instructions that can be organized as a checklist. Thus, it can assist you in closely monitoring the progress of your initiative and determining the necessary actions to achieve the next milestone.

2. Preparation

This model emphasizes being prepared for the change to increase its likelihood of success. Proactively removing obstacles and gaining support allows for smoother implementation, which can lead to more successful outcomes than other models.

3. Puts emphasis on the involvement of employees

The model involves all employees which enables them to participate in changes in the business. In doing this, you can make them feel that they have a significant impact from the start. Thus, the business can achieve a more comprehensive change starting from the bottom.

4. Stable approach for predicting changes

Kotter’s theory allows businesses to predict how to implement changes without surprising employees. Through a system of feedback and participation, everyone is aware of the changes that may occur. 

Kotter’s 8-Step Change Model

Kotter’s theory outlines what businesses should do to overcome obstacles and implement sustainability with its 8 stages. For you to understand further, we will discuss to you the process step-by-step:

1. Establish a sense of urgency

If too little attention is done to this stage, it is almost impossible to get the next steps off the ground. It is important that all those involved in your company’s change towards more sustainability, realize that changes are absolutely necessary and unavoidable. 

It must be clear to everyone that there is a recognizable problem that they will be facing now or in the near future. To establish a sense of urgency, it is important to research the market, analyze competitors, and discuss potential opportunities and threats.

2. Form a guiding coalition

Form a powerful and influential group of colleagues, managers, and leaders to lead the change. Bring together the right people with a certain amount of power and the right expertise. Organize this guiding coalition to work as a team. 

3. Developing a vision and strategy

Create a vision to guide change efforts. Do not only analyze the traditional financial plans and aspects but also keep an eye on the relationship between these plans and budgets. 

The vision and strategy must be recognizable and in line with the standards and values of the organization and its employees and environment.

4. Communicating the change vision

Use every possible way to communicate the new vision and strategies. Keep the message honest and simple and use the power of repetition. 

Choose a dialogue over a monologue. The members of the guiding coalition must set a good example for the rest of the organization. Pay attention to the mutual relationships and cohesion between departments. A change in one often has consequences for the other.

5. Create broad support

Remove obstacles or barriers. Change the structures and systems that prevent sustainable change. Encourage risk-taking and the generation of unconventional ideas and activities.

6. Realize and Celebrate Short-Term Results

Make plans for visible improvement in performance. Create and claim results; celebrate the successes. Visibly acknowledge the people who made the short-term results possible. 

This indicates that the change is successful, expresses appreciation for those involved, and increases motivation and morale. If the successes are linked to the strategy, a snowball effect is created that shows that the change has a positive effect. This ensures credibility and gives support.

7. Consolidate and keep moving

Building on credibility puts the responsibility for change with a larger group. The leading coalition becomes a larger group that is better able to implement, strengthen and sustain the change. 

Slowly change all systems, structures, and policies that do not fit the vision. Use, promote, and develop successful change agents. 

Strengthen the change process with new projects, themes, and drivers. Keep an eye on the objectives! In this phase, there is often a reversion to old work patterns.

8. Embedding New Approaches in the Culture

Improve performance through customer focus, product awareness, and through more effective leadership and management. Only when employees see the connection between change and process improvements they will embrace and embed the change. 

The culture within an organization determines whether a change is permanent, but the culture also changes under the influence of the same change. 

Take enough time and patience for change and be prepared to say goodbye to those who cannot go along with the change. Continuous management attention and demonstrably improved results are required to achieve changes toward sustainability. 

Do you want to learn more about implementing changes in your procurement to achieve sustainability? Then try our Sustainable Procurement Course! Our course will teach you everything that you need to know in implementing changes in your procurement process. Enroll now!


In conclusion, Kotter’s Theory of Change offers a practical and comprehensive framework for businesses looking to implement sustainable changes, particularly in their procurement processes. By following the 8-step model, organizations can navigate the complexities of change, engage employees effectively, and embed new approaches into their culture, ultimately fostering long-term success. Embracing Kotter’s theory enables companies to address challenges systematically, predict changes, and achieve meaningful and lasting transformations in their operations.

Frequentlyasked questions

What is Kotter’s theory of change?

It is a theory, developed by John Kotter, that is designed to help leaders successfully implement organizational change.

How does it differ from other change management models?

It involves a systematic and proactive approach that focuses on preparing for change and gaining support to enable smooth implementation. On the other hand, other change models are reactive or focus only on specific areas rather than the whole company.

Can it be applied to small businesses?

Yes, Kotter’s model can be applied to businesses and organizations of any size. The key is to ensure that all employees are involved and committed to the change process.

About the author

My name is Marijn Overvest, I’m the founder of Procurement Tactics. I have a deep passion for procurement, and I’ve upskilled over 200 procurement teams from all over the world. When I’m not working, I love running and cycling.

Marijn Overvest Procurement Tactics