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Aligning Vision and Strategy through Change Models

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Change is an inevitable part of any organization’s journey towards growth and success. In today’s fast-paced and dynamic business environment, organizations need to constantly adapt and evolve to stay competitive. However, change can be disruptive and challenging, often leading to resistance and confusion among employees. To effectively navigate through change, organizations must align their vision and strategy with the help of change models. These models provide a structured approach to managing change, ensuring that all stakeholders are on the same page and working towards a common goal. In this article, we will explore the concept of aligning vision and strategy through change models, examining different models and their applications in real-world scenarios.

The Importance of Aligning Vision and Strategy

Before delving into the various change models, it is crucial to understand why aligning vision and strategy is essential for organizational success. Vision and strategy are two interconnected elements that guide an organization’s direction and decision-making process. The vision represents the desired future state of the organization, while the strategy outlines the roadmap to achieve that vision.

When vision and strategy are not aligned, organizations face several challenges:

  • Lack of clarity: Without a clear vision and strategy, employees may not understand the organization’s goals and objectives, leading to confusion and inefficiency.
  • Inconsistent decision-making: Misalignment between vision and strategy can result in conflicting priorities and decision-making processes, hindering progress and growth.
  • Resistance to change: When employees do not see a clear connection between the proposed changes and the organization’s vision and strategy, they are more likely to resist change.

On the other hand, when vision and strategy are aligned, organizations can reap several benefits:

  • Shared purpose: Aligning vision and strategy creates a shared purpose among employees, fostering a sense of unity and collaboration.
  • Clear direction: A well-defined vision and strategy provide employees with a clear direction, enabling them to make informed decisions and take appropriate actions.
  • Employee engagement: When employees understand and believe in the organization’s vision and strategy, they are more likely to be engaged and motivated, leading to higher productivity and performance.

The Kotter’s 8-Step Change Model

One of the most widely recognized change models is Kotter’s 8-Step Change Model, developed by John Kotter, a renowned leadership and change management expert. This model provides a step-by-step approach to managing change effectively. Let’s explore each step in detail:

Create a Sense of Urgency

The first step in Kotter’s model is to create a sense of urgency among employees. This involves communicating the need for change and highlighting the risks of not taking action. By creating a sense of urgency, organizations can overcome complacency and resistance to change.

For example, let’s consider a manufacturing company that is facing declining sales due to outdated production methods. The leadership team can create a sense of urgency by sharing market research and customer feedback, demonstrating the need to modernize production processes to stay competitive.

Form a Powerful Coalition

Once a sense of urgency is established, the next step is to form a powerful coalition of change agents. This coalition should include individuals from different levels and departments within the organization, who have the influence and expertise to drive change.

Continuing with the previous example, the manufacturing company can form a coalition consisting of senior executives, production managers, and technology experts. This coalition will be responsible for leading and implementing the change initiatives.

Create a Vision for Change

The third step is to create a clear and compelling vision for change. The vision should articulate the desired future state of the organization and inspire employees to embrace the change. It should answer the question, “Why are we changing, and what will the future look like?”

In our example, the manufacturing company’s vision for change could be to become a leader in the industry by adopting advanced production technologies and improving operational efficiency. The vision should emphasize the benefits of the change, such as increased productivity and customer satisfaction.

Communicate the Vision

Once the vision is established, it is crucial to communicate it effectively to all stakeholders. This involves using various communication channels and techniques to ensure that employees understand the vision and its implications.

The manufacturing company can organize town hall meetings, send regular email updates, and create visual aids to communicate the vision. The communication should be transparent, honest, and consistent to build trust and engagement among employees.

Empower Employees to Act

The fifth step is to empower employees to act on the vision. This involves removing any barriers or obstacles that may hinder their ability to contribute to the change process. It also requires providing the necessary resources, training, and support to enable employees to take ownership of the change.

In our example, the manufacturing company can invest in training programs to upskill employees in new production technologies. They can also establish cross-functional teams to encourage collaboration and knowledge sharing.

Generate Short-Term Wins

Creating short-term wins is essential to maintain momentum and build confidence among employees. These wins demonstrate the progress made towards the vision and provide tangible evidence of the benefits of change.

The manufacturing company can set achievable milestones, such as implementing a new production technology in one department and measuring the resulting increase in productivity. Celebrating these wins and recognizing the contributions of employees will further motivate them to continue supporting the change.

Consolidate Gains and Produce More Change

After generating short-term wins, it is important to consolidate the gains and build on them to produce more change. This involves analyzing the lessons learned from the initial change initiatives and using them to refine and improve future initiatives.

The manufacturing company can conduct post-implementation reviews to identify areas for improvement and gather feedback from employees. This feedback can then be used to make necessary adjustments and plan for the next phase of change.

Anchoring the Change in Corporate Culture

The final step in Kotter’s model is to anchor the change in the corporate culture. This involves embedding the new behaviors and practices into the organization’s DNA, ensuring that the change becomes a lasting part of the organization’s identity.

The manufacturing company can update its performance management system to align with the new production processes and reward employees who demonstrate the desired behaviors. They can also incorporate the change initiatives into the organization’s values and mission statement.

The Lewin’s Change Model

Another well-known change model is the Lewin’s Change Model, developed by psychologist Kurt Lewin. This model is based on the concept of unfreezing, changing, and refreezing, representing the three stages of the change process. Let’s explore each stage in detail:


The first stage of Lewin’s model is unfreezing, which involves creating a readiness for change by breaking down existing mindsets and behaviors. This stage requires organizations to challenge the status quo and create a sense of dissatisfaction with the current state.

For example, let’s consider a retail company that wants to implement a new customer relationship management (CRM) system. The unfreezing stage would involve highlighting the limitations of the current manual system and the potential benefits of the new CRM system.


Once the unfreezing stage is complete, the next stage is changing, where organizations implement the desired change. This stage requires careful planning and execution to ensure a smooth transition from the old ways of doing things to the new ways.

In our example, the retail company would need to develop a detailed implementation plan for the new CRM system, including training programs for employees, data migration strategies, and change management processes. The change should be communicated effectively to all stakeholders to minimize resistance and confusion.


The final stage of Lewin’s model is refreezing, which involves reinforcing the new behaviors and practices to make them the new norm. This stage aims to solidify the change and ensure its sustainability in the long run.

The retail company can establish performance metrics and feedback mechanisms to monitor the effectiveness of the new CRM system. They can also provide ongoing training and support to employees to ensure they are comfortable and proficient in using the system. By embedding the change into the organization’s culture and processes, the change becomes a natural part of how things are done.

The ADKAR Model

The ADKAR Model, developed by Prosci, is another widely used change model that focuses on individual change. The model emphasizes the importance of addressing the needs and concerns of individuals during the change process. Let’s explore each element of the ADKAR Model:


The first element of the ADKAR Model is awareness, which involves understanding the need for change and the reasons behind it. This element aims to create a sense of urgency and motivation among individuals to embrace the change.

For example, if a software company is implementing a new project management tool, they would need to create awareness among employees about the limitations of the current tool and the benefits of the new tool in improving efficiency and collaboration.


Once individuals are aware of the need for change, the next element is desire, which involves cultivating a personal desire to support and participate in the change. This element focuses on addressing any resistance or concerns individuals may have and creating a positive attitude towards the change.

The software company can conduct training sessions and workshops to address any skill gaps and provide hands-on experience with the new project management tool. They can also involve employees in the decision-making process and seek their input and feedback to increase their desire to embrace the change.


The third element of the ADKAR Model is knowledge, which involves providing individuals with the necessary information and skills to implement the change successfully. This element aims to equip individuals with the knowledge and tools they need to adapt to the new ways of working.

The software company can provide comprehensive training programs, user manuals, and online resources to help employees understand and use the new project management tool effectively. They can also offer ongoing support and guidance to address any challenges or questions that may arise during the transition.


Once individuals have the knowledge, the next element is ability, which focuses on building the necessary skills and capabilities to implement the change. This element involves providing opportunities for practice and reinforcement to ensure individuals can apply their knowledge effectively.

The software company can organize hands-on workshops and simulations to allow employees to practice using the new project management tool in a safe environment. They can also assign mentors or coaches to provide guidance and support during the initial stages of implementation.


The final element of the ADKAR Model is reinforcement, which aims to sustain the change by recognizing and rewarding individuals for their efforts and achievements. This element focuses on reinforcing the desired behaviors and ensuring that individuals continue to embrace the change in the long run.

The software company can establish a recognition program to acknowledge employees who demonstrate proficiency in using the new project management tool and contribute to its successful implementation. They can also incorporate the use of the tool into performance evaluations and career development plans to reinforce its importance.

The McKinsey 7-S Framework

The McKinsey 7-S Framework is a change model that focuses on seven interconnected elements that need to be aligned for successful change implementation. The framework emphasizes the interdependencies between these elements and the need to address them collectively. Let’s explore each element of the McKinsey 7-S Framework:


The first element of the framework is strategy, which represents the organization’s plan of action to achieve its goals. This element involves defining the desired future state and outlining the steps required to get there.

For example, if a healthcare organization wants to improve patient satisfaction, their strategy may involve implementing a patient-centered care model, enhancing communication channels, and investing in staff training.


The second element is structure, which refers to the organization’s formal hierarchy and reporting relationships. This element focuses on how tasks and responsibilities are divided and coordinated within the organization.

The healthcare organization may need to restructure its departments and teams to align with the patient-centered care model. They may need to create multidisciplinary teams and establish clear lines of communication and decision-making.


The third element is systems, which includes the processes, procedures, and technologies that support the organization’s operations. This element focuses on how work is done and how information flows within the organization.

The healthcare organization may need to implement new systems, such as electronic health records and patient feedback mechanisms, to support the patient-centered care model. They may also need to streamline existing processes and eliminate any bottlenecks or inefficiencies.

Shared Values

The fourth element is shared values, which represent the organization’s core beliefs, values, and norms. This element reflects the organization’s culture and the guiding principles that shape its behavior and decision-making.

The healthcare organization may need to foster a culture of patient-centeredness, where all employees prioritize patient satisfaction and well-being. This may involve promoting empathy, respect, and collaboration among staff members.


The fifth element is skills, which refers to the capabilities and competencies of the organization’s employees. This element focuses on the knowledge, skills, and expertise required to perform the organization’s tasks effectively.

The healthcare organization may need to provide training programs and professional development opportunities to enhance the skills of its staff members. They may also need to recruit individuals with specific skills and expertise to support the patient-centered care model.


The sixth element is staff, which represents the organization’s workforce and their characteristics, such as demographics, experience, and diversity. This element focuses on the composition of the organization’s employees and their alignment with the desired change.

The healthcare organization may need to assess its staffing needs and make any necessary adjustments to ensure a diverse and skilled workforce. They may also need to involve employees in the change process and seek their input and feedback.


The final element is style, which refers to the leadership style and behavior within the organization. This element focuses on how leaders influence and motivate employees, as well as how decisions are made and communicated.

The healthcare organization may need to adopt a participative leadership style, where leaders involve employees in decision-making and create a supportive and empowering work environment. This may involve providing leadership training and coaching to develop the necessary skills.


Aligning vision and strategy through change models is crucial for organizations to navigate through change successfully. Whether it is Kotter’s 8-Step Change Model, Lewin’s Change Model, the ADKAR Model, or the McKinsey 7-S Framework, these models provide a structured approach to managing change and ensuring that all stakeholders are aligned and engaged.

By aligning vision and strategy, organizations can overcome resistance, create a shared purpose, and drive sustainable change. It is important for organizations to carefully select and adapt these change models based on their specific needs and context. By doing so, they can effectively align their vision and strategy, leading to organizational growth and success in today’s ever-changing business landscape.

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