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Prof. John Kotter (Harvard Business School), identified eight essential Change Accelerators, which can help every organization prevent ‘Failure-To-Change’ from happening.

According to Kotter; ‘the world is changing at a rate at which the systems, structures and cultures built over the past century can no longer keep up. What organizations increasingly need is a system (management-driven hierarchy, processes, and skills). However, that systems must also connect with people (leadership, networks, volunteers, and appreciation for peoples feelings).’

1: Sense of Urgency

Urgency must be reinforced throughout the change process.

Successful Change

Successful change can only begin when there is a minimum of 51% of all employees (75% of management) who believe in that sense of urgency, and who are engaged and energized around the need for change. Creating a sense of urgency sound like an easy thing to achieve, but in fact it’s quite a challenge.

Creating a Sense of Urgency, and forming the Urgency Team are the two most essential steps to achieving successful change within organizations. Only after those two steps are taken, can management then move on to Acceleration #3 (Strategic Vision).

According to Prof. Kotter, a true sense of urgency is rare; mainly because ‘it is not the natural state of affairs. It has to be created and recreated.’ So the task of leading a team of people in a transformation at any level will often require an ability to create an atmosphere of urgency that can be embraced, and in turn bring about an atmosphere of achievement.

2: Urgency Team

Before any change can occur, one needs to build a guiding team (coalition), who takes personal ownership for change.

‘The HP Way’ 

The founders of Hewlett-Packard Company (HP) in 1957 wrote down their management beliefs, which served as a model for the company’s culture; Respect of and Trust in Employees, an Environment That Fostered Creativity, and A Flat Management Hierarchy. Those beliefs became known as the ‘HP Way’.


In 1998, HP was listed #10 in the very first Fortune Magazine ranking of the ‘100 Best Companies to Work For’. That ranking was designed to provide a measure of employee trust. However, in 1999 HP appointed a new CEO, Carly Fiorina (an outsider). Fiorina was a highly competitive and results oriented manager. By 2000, HP had fallen to #43 on Fortune’s list. Part of that decline was due to Fiorina’s belief that; HP needed to increase the sense of urgency, and develop a more competitive spirit. Fiorina also indicated that she was dissatisfied with HP employees.


In April 2001, HP laid off 6,000 employees, and didn’t make the “100 Best Companies to Work For” in 2003 or 2004. In 2005 a new CEO was appointed (Mark Hurd). Hurd claimed he would follow ‘The HP Way’, but in 2006 he fired 15,300 employees. 

Signals Matter 

⇒  Positive Signals; respect, fairness, satisfaction with, and pride in employees, are critical to creating trust (and urgency).
⇒  Negative Signals; disrespect, unfairness, and dissatisfaction, may cause distrust, and reduce sense of urgency.

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