Leadership, Transformational Change and the Food System

In a 1995 article on leadership and organizational change, John Kotter of the Harvard Business School outlined eight reasons why transformational efforts fail and what is needed to create and sustain change. As different projects, programs and initiatives are developed around Virginia and the country to address obstacles, challenges and needed change in the food system, Kotter’s outline continues to offer a solid framework and best practices for leading and encouraging change within organizations and the food system.

  • Establish a sense of urgency
  • Form a powerful guiding coalition
  • Create a vibrant vision and picture of the future
  • Communicate the vision
  • Empower others to act on the vision
  • Plan for and create short-term wins
  • Consolidate improvements and produce still more change
  • Institutionalize new approaches so they become part of the culture.

To encourage change and continue to be motivated, Kotter emphasizes that change is a process and not an event. Within this context, he also notes that maintaining the status quo may be more dangerous than pursuing the unknown.

Covered bridge at Meems Bottom.

Kotter, J.P. (1995), Leading change: Why transformational efforts fail. Harvard Business Review, 73(2), 59 – 67.

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