In Kotter’s 8-step process, step 2 calls for the formation of a team to facilitate the successful implementation of the change process. In Meg Whitman’s case, within her first week after joining eBay, she arranged for meetings with all senior executives in a bid to understand their responsibilities and hear what they had to say concerning the organization.
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In this case, a team was already in position and so Whitman needed to consolidate it. In addition, she later constituted a strong marketing, legal, and customer service team by hiring experts in these fields. At one point, she admitted that she knew the relevance of a united senior management team, which explains why she formed these teams.
In step 3, the leader has to develop a change vision. After joining the company, Whitman realized that eBay specialized mainly on the engineering aspect of business. However, she knew that the company had to move forward and increase the company’s investment in system capacity. Her change vision also included the formation of a marketing team coupled with writing a mission statement and such a thing had not happened in the company before. Whitman convened a meeting with all the nine engineers in the company, where she explained her dissatisfaction with the way things were working. Afterwards, she suggested a different approach where people would specialize in a given area.
In step 4, Kotter notes that the leader has to communicate the vision to the involved parties and ensure that many individuals as possible understand and embrace the vision. Whitman acted prudently on this issue and she made personal presentation in the presence of all staff members. In the presentation, she explained and appreciated how the company was doing and noted that the change leadership was an opportunity for the company to move forward. She clarified where the change would take the company and asserted her confidence in the staff members, which was a great buy-in strategy. In addition, Whitman held weekly full company meetings where she would discuss the change process and evaluate its progress.
Step 5 entails the removal of barriers that prevent individuals from achieving their best. One of the barriers that the company faced was lack specialization. Therefore, when Whitman joined the company, she empowered a broad-based action by ensuring that everyone specialized in his/her line of duty and she hired more people to fill positions, which were hitherto being handled by general workers. She also created new departments like the marketing department in the quest to streamline the business operations and allow people to specialize in areas where they could deliver optimally.
In step 6, a leader has to generate short-term wins and Whitman met this requirement sufficiently. In the second week, she came up with clear-cut short-term goals. The first short-term goal entailed formulating a strategy for the level of investment in terms of the company’s system capacity. The second goal was to come up with an efficient marketing strategy for the expansion of the company. The third goal sought to streamline and fortify the company and lastly make the proper preparations for the company’s initial public offer.
In step 7, Kotter notes that a leader should never give up and Whitman lived to this spirit. After streamlining the company under the leadership of Whitman, eBay listed its shares in September 1998. Whitman was always on an upward trend, and after the IPO, she executed numerous change strategies. In March 1999, the company partnered with AOL and later acquired Butterfield & Butterfield in the following month, which underscores how Whitman lived up to the Kotter’s spirit as espoused in step 7.