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  • Writer's pictureKohei Yoshino

Sustaining Momentum in Change

Updated: Mar 8, 2022

As identified by OD practitioners such as Lewin, Kotter, as well as Cummings and Worley, the final phase of change management (i.e., re-freezing, institutionalization, and sustainment) is crucial in ensuring that the change actually sticks within an organization after other change management activities have been implemented (Ruth, 2004). Ruth (2004) states that most organizations and change agents focus on initiating changes while paying much less attention to evaluating the progress of change and consolidating the change. In fact, in the study that analyzed data on the basis of the steps in Kotter’s 8 Steps Change Model, barely 21% of the respondents had institutionalized changes in the organizational culture while, for example, 76% of managers created vision and strategy (Ruth, 2004).

Most organizations and change agents focus on initiating changes while paying much less attention to evaluating the progress of change and consolidating the change.

One of the strategies OD practitioners can implement in sustaining momentum is to store knowledge and institutionalize the change by documenting the new processes, roles and responsibilities, and expected behaviors (Ruth, 2004). UGF, an Australian organization in Finance and Insurance Sector, established a Knowledge Management Program to retain interpersonal aspects of knowledge to ensure sustainability and this is a great example of the ways in which change can be sustained even after certain personnel who were heavily involved in the change management process leave the organization (Pollack & Pollack, 2015).

Another strategy that can be implemented in sustaining change momentum is to continuously take the pulse of the leadership and other key stakeholders to ensure that they remain committed to the change (Varney, 2017). This is especially important within an organization where leaders’ time and effort must be split between several ongoing initiatives. As indicated in Kotter’s 8 Step Change model, leadership engagement and coalition are crucial in any successful change management initiatives and for this reason, leaders, as well as other key stakeholders, must be continuously engaged to sustain the change momentum (Kotter, 1996). In a similar vein, using Kotter’s change model, OD practitioners and change agents can sustain momentum by creating and sharing quick wins with those who are impacted by the change and ensuring them that the change is worth the effort (Kotter, 1996). In capturing the wins, it is absolutely important to clarify the outcomes to be measured, define the intended outcomes, and continuously evaluate and assess the impact at different stages of the change (Church, 2017).

Lastly, as outlined by the ADKAR change model, a change can also be sustained with reinforcement through providing external recognition, rewards, and incentives as well as providing those impacted by the change with opportunities to leap the benefits of the change such as increased productivity or higher autonomy (Kim, 2015). Though it may be tempting to rush through the phases of change, it is crucial for OD practitioners to remember the importance of putting efforts and developing the infrastructure and process at an early stage of any change initiatives to sustain the momentum by using the strategies such as the one mentioned above.


Church, A. H. (2017). The art and science of evaluating organization development interventions.OD Practitioner, 49(2), 26-35.

Kim, T. (2015). Diffusion of changes in organizations. Journal of Organizational Change Management, 28(1), 134-152.

Kotter, J. P. (1996). Leading Change. Boston: Harvard Business School Press

Pollack, J., & Pollack, R. (2015). Using Kotter's eight stage process to manage an organizational change program: Presentation and practice. Systemic Practice and Action Research, 28(1), 51-66.

Ruth, A. (2004). Process model for organizational change: A study of Estonian companies. Journal of Business Economics and Management, (5)3, 109-117.

Varney, G. H. (2017). Change your change process and make change work. Organization Development Journal, 35(1), 25-33.


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