UCV-COW-BA: Kotter’s 8-Step Change Model

“By changing nothing, nothing changes.” -Tony Robbins

Change is part of everyday life – its inevitable, its constant, and its not always easy to deal with. While we all have our own way of dealing with change in our personal lives (some of us may shy away), organizational change cannot be avoided. Recognizing the challenge of adapting to change, organizations implement various theories and programs for change management. Any change, personal or organizational, should be well thought out to avoid disaster.

In using the health care system as an example, Max D. Ray and Burnis D. Breland discusses that, in an organization, leaders are required to be change agents. They to on to say that, “To be effective,… leaders will need to be guided by a well-thought-through practice model that is based on the broad goals [of the department].” (Ray and Breland, 2011).

UCV-COW-BA (pronounced, you-see-vee-cow-ba). Have I gone crazy? No. Please repeat after me, three times. UCV-COW-BA. UCV-COW-BA. UCV-COW-BA. Now, before calling me crazy again, let me explain this.

UCV-COW-BA is an acronym to help you remember the 8 stages in Kotter’s 8-step change model. John Kotter (click for information and blogs posts), who is a professor at Harvard Business School, developed these 8 steps to lead change.

Step 1: Create Urgency

This one is pretty straight forward – we know that if we want something to change, we have to convince somebody (probably the boss) that something is actually wrong. Kotter points out that “ 75 percent of a company’s management needs to “buy into” the change.”

Step 2: Form a Powerful Coalition

The power of many! The more people you can convince that change is needed, the stronger case you can make to implement change.

Step 3: Create a Vision for Change

Determine what the overall goal is for change. Figure out what will be better and how it will be better because of the change. 

Step 4: Communicate the Vision

Tell people!

Step 5: Remove Obstacles

Identify individuals who may resist the change. Bring them on your side. Realize that you won’t convince everybody, but you have to convince the ones who have decision making power.

Step 6: Create short-term Wins

It’s all about baby steps. Every step forward is one to celebrate and bring forth the success of the change. The more success everybody sees, the more motivated they are to carry on.

Step 7: Build on the Change

Don’t stop there – keep going! The change helped create short-term wins; now analyze them and win more!

Step 8: Anchor the Changes in Corporate Culture

In order for the change to be successful, it should become vasible in most part of the company.

(Steps and paraphrased description from http://www.mindtools.com/pages/article/newPPM_82.htm)

For a real life example of Kotter’s 8-step model in practice, one only needs to look back a few years to 2006. In her article, Leading Bold Change, Ann Schulte discusses her experience when MasterCard went public. Employees were instructed through the “Leading Bold Change” training program – which was based off of Kotter’s 8-step model.  During the workshop, participants developed action plans to apply the model.  (source)

Have a read over the Leading Bold Change PDF to see how MasterCard actually implemented these 8 steps to manage their big change.

There you have it. UCV-COW-BA. You can easily master change with these steps. Learn it. Live it. Love it.






Kotter’s 8-Step Change Model. (n.d.). Mind Tools. Retrieved July 20, 2012, from http://www.mindtools.com/pages/article/newPPM_82.htm

Ray, M. D., & Breland, B. D. (2011). Methods of fostering change in the practice model at the pharmacy department level. American Journal Of Health-System Pharmacy,68(12), 1138-1145.

Schulte, A. (2010). Leading Bold Change. Leadership Excellence, 27(4), 4.