Revisiting different theories and models after there has been enough time to test and appraise them achieves results that are more reliable. Appelbaum, Habashy, Malo, and Shafiq return to John Kotter’s change model, proposed in 1996, in their 2012 article, summarizing his work. While one of the fascinating things about his work remains the fact that it was bereft of sources, apart from the author’s experience in business, there are points of interest within the theory itself.
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At first, the procedure provided by Kotter highlights eight steps to transform an organization, with the second step being to “create a guiding coalition.” At first glance, the process seems appropriate and straightforward, so criticism of the second point puts under question the reliability of the rest of the steps. The commentary focuses on the fact that coalition formation is an acute need throughout numerous stages, not just a second phase of the process. However, Kotter does not explicitly state that coalition formation is fruitless after the second step and does not discourage from it, and his steps should retain credibility in our eye. Taking into account all the provided by the article information, it should seem to us that the critique of Kotter’s system is derived from its inappropriate application.
Another given criticism of the change model stemmed at the same time from both, its rigidity and lack of descriptiveness. The steps, says Kotter, absolutely have to be followed consecutively to obtain positive results, and this creates a system that should give questionable results in companies with a corporate culture different from America. This is an observation presumably hitherto unconsidered by readers, as it is often easy to forget the obvious fact that business and management involve cultural roots and different countries operate on different cultural bases.
Kotter counters this argument himself, stating that the lack of achieved results when following his eight steps is determined by the inability to change people’s behavior, not a setback of his system. This is a considerable statement, since if the goal is to achieve a change, then this creates a scheme to be followed, and its failure should indicate inefficiency of either the structure or the implementer.
This brings us to the subject most interesting from an academic point of view – the practical nature of the work and its basis in experience, while completely absconding proof through experimentation. To be validated scientifically and appraised intellectually, a model should require confirmation, not by the life experience of the creator, which is something untestable, but through scientific experiments. The fact that Kotter’s work is used and studied by scholars, despite its lacking proof, creates a peculiar situation where something unproved is elevated to an axiom, which is something we should find extraordinary.
Critique of Kotter’s 1996 change model is varied and, at times, appropriate, with the author himself recognizing the fact that he was not able to cover all questions in his work. Nonetheless, his work is a unique mélange of methodical recommendations based on individual observations, rigid rules for success, and advice. Taking into consideration that the model is a direct result of experience, the acknowledgment it has achieved among managers seems appropriate. The positive response Kotter’s work has had among his target audience could not have been accomplished if there were incompetent and fruitless results of its application.