Change Management, Step 2: Build a Guiding Coalition

To drive change, John Kotter's second step is to build a guiding coalition of people who share the same sense of urgency. This coalition is alliance - of (2) essential for removing the obstacles that are sure to materialise. It is important that it brings together influential people but, beware, even the participation of the CEO will not be enough on its own. It doesn't just need the doers. You will need to try to involve other convinced and motivated people.

We suggest you review the motivations of various company stakeholders to determine how to get them involved. How will better collaboration help them achieve their goals? Good news: collaboration is good for everybody. So it will be their personalities and current priorities that will determine their membership in the coalition.

portrait1 - ofThe CEO is often looking for improved profitability in its business. For that it is essential to increase employee efficiency, which is a notable result of better collaboration. Even in times of crisis, the need to economise will motivate a project designed to improve the use of resources.

Conquering new markets with new products or services, or new business models, requires better collaboration. Whether it is a matter of incremental or breakthrough innovations, they all need forms of collaboration tailored to teams that involve different skills: marketing, commercial, technical, legal.



The Director of Internal Communications' mission is to share the company's vision and give the employees information that helps them do their portrait2 - of work and understand their role in the global strategy. Communications Directors look at the power of public social networks and understand the value of these new means of communicating, which give people the possibility of commenting on and taking ownership of messages.

They also need to know what's new in the company in order to tell others about it, or spotlight it. They are aware that their department must not become a bottleneck. On the contrary, its mission is to promote the direct exchange of information at a local or departmental level.


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The mission of the Director of Human Resources is to recruit and retain competent, well-trained and motivated personnel. They understand that their role is changing with the emergence of new organizations that require them, for example, to find the specific people to set up projects: it is up to them to set up a base of experts which is updated by the people concerned by it. This is a lever which can be used to make people feel valued and increase their sense of belonging

It is also up to HR Directors to transform the restrictions of training into free learning. Social learning makes the direct transmission of knowledge between employees easier. Knowledge is transmitted more easily through micro-learning.

Directors of IT Services (CIO) are key players for two reasons: they set up collaborative tools but also use them. They often play a decisive role in portrait4 - of the choice of tools used. As such, if they are guided by the biggest suppliers and the demands of different departments, how are they going to manage to define a strategy to control costs, streamline choices and determine a course towards the Digital Workplace? In order to do that, their teams have to work effectively with the users.

The role of the CIO is changing profoundly. It is no longer just that of a simple technician. It is now essential that they focus on uses so they can best meet the company's needs. Again, more collaboration is needed to better understand expectations, to have more successful projects and to provide better support to the users.


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We could also mention the Chief Digital Officer (CDO) whose mission is to secure growth by using the potential of new technologies to ensure the transition from a traditional business to a digital business. In fact, virtually all managers may need to build cross-functional teams to mobilize knowledge and skills. You and they both need to understand how better collaboration could help resolve their urgent needs.

And finally we need to emphasise the role of intermediary managers. Their membership in the coalition will be crucial to the success or failure of a collaborative project. You have a good chance of finding some extremely motivated people among them, convinced of the importance of changing management practices and the ways of working together.

The coalition you have formed is not intended to be a project team or steering committee. Its first aim is to build a vision. This is the step we will be looking at in the next post.

La coalition ainsi formée n’a pas vocation à devenir une équipe projet ou un comité de pilotage. Elle va d’abord construire une vision. C’est l’étape que nous présenterons dans le prochain billet.


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