John Kotter’s 8 step model is one of the best known, used and adapted change models. We regularly use this or similar models with our clients.

It is a very versatile tool, so I decided to apply it to my own challenge – which involves taking thousands and thousands of steps up and around the Yorkshire 3 peaks in a few weeks time.

Here’s how applying Kotter’s 8 steps to change is helping me.

  1. Increase urgency: I’m doing the walk because I want to get fitter and hate going to the gym. Walking with 13 friends is more appealing but still challenging. What is at stake is my pride and knowing I am part of a team that I don’t want to let down. And knowing how good I’ll feel mentally and physically at the end of it.
  2. Build the guiding team: The group I’m walking with are part of this team. They are a mixture of expert walkers and marathon runners who push and encourage the rest of us and others who are great at organizing, planning and providing moral support. Also part of the team are our families who put up with us disappearing for hours at a weekend and drive to meet us in way out places (often involving a nice pub – but still!)
  3. Get the vision right:  I’m thinking about the beautiful views, companionship, laughter at our celebratory meal in the evening and sense of satisfaction and accomplishment.       
  4. Communicate for buy-in: This has been about engaging my family and agreeing roles in group. I’m pleased to say that I am chief list maker! It’s also been about setting expectations that we will need to walk in a faster and slower party so no one feels rushed or slowed down. 
  5. Empower action: There were a number of barriers to address, including equipment (I now have new and worn in walking boots, walking poles, waterproofs etc) and the fact that I have never done a 24 mile walk over 3 peaks in 12 hours. Training and a realistic training plan are essential.
  6. Create short term wins: We have planned for and completed several walks of around 15 miles on different terrain and in different weather conditions. Our time and distance goals have been challenging but doable, so we have felt a sense of achievement and progress.
  7. Don’t let up: We keep adding new milestones to our training plan. I now know my strengths and weak spots and am planning to address these by adding some specific exercises and stretches into my routine. And of course we have some “planning” evenings to look forward to.
  8. Make change stick: How will I build on my increased fitness levels and enjoyment of the challenge?  What will be next? I haven’t got as far as this yet – but will let you know!

by Julie Williams

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