Books: “Leading Change” by John P. Kotter


Leading Change by John P. Kotter

Chapter7, “Empowering Employees for Broad-Based Action”

Environmental change demands organizational change (101).  Organization, or lack thereof, can be a great detriment to changing a church or organization.

What are the biggest obstacles that often need to be attacked?  Four can be particularly important:  structures, skills, systems, and supervisors (102). 

Whenever structural barriers are not removed in a timely way, the risk is that employees will become so frustrated that they will sour on the entire transformational effort (106).  You’ve got to get bureaucracy out of the way or it will frustrate people.  People in the local church can minister and make decisions but they have to have “room” to do that.

Sometimes we have become so accustomed to one basic organizational design, perhaps because it has been used for decades, that we are blind to the alternatives (106).  This is why lifelong learning is important.  We can have on leadership blinders.  This is why it is important to visit other churches and go to leadership conferences to see what’s being done outside of your church.

Some training could be required at this stage in a transformation, but it needs to be the right kind of experience (109).  Don’t waste people’s time with poor training or inappropriate training.  It has to be good!

One major reason why the Franks of the world aren’t confronted is that others are afraid that these people can’t change, yet they are unwilling to demote or fire them.  Political considerations also play a big role in these cases.  People fear that if a fight erupts, the Franks may be powerful enough to win, perhaps even forcing the change agents out.  Problem people, unproductive people, and uncooperative people are going to have to be dealt with if real change is going to occur.  It has to be the right time and the right way but it will cost you.

Empowering People to Effect Change (115)

  • Communicate a sensible vision to employees:  If employees have a shared sense of purpose, it will be easier to initiate actions to achieve that purpose.
  • Make structures compatible with the vision:  Unaligned structures block needed action.
  • Provide the training employees need:  Without the right skills and attitudes, people feel disempowered.
  • Align information and personnel systems to the vision:  Unaligned systems also block needed action.
  • Confront supervisors who undercut needed change:  Nothing disempowers people the way a bad boss can.