When the curtains came down on Copenhagen, many of us were left confused about what had gone wrong. It seemed that there had never before been such a united call for positive change. We asked each other, bewildered, ‘How could our political representatives waste such a pivotal opportunity?’. Those with first-hand knowledge of governmental institutions were liable to ask instead, ‘How could we have expected our political representatives to respond with any haste?’.
Allan Jones MBE, the Chief Development Officer of Energy & Climate Change currently works for the City of Sydney council. His job is to turn Sydney green by 2030. Speaking at the Beyond Zero Emissions report Sydney launch two weeks ago, he concluded roughly with the following ; “We now have the technology, we know it’s economically feasible, the only obstacle left to a sustainable society is political”.
He was referring to two main political obstacles- The power of vested interests and institutional inertia. These two factors combined have left us with a high mountain to climb. The shift towards a sustainable society requires us to address the ways in which our institutions have atrophied over the years to a point where they are becoming dangerously resistant to change. This doesn’t just apply to government institutions; the reluctance of business to move into the 21st century is as damaging.
Kotter’s eight steps are one transferable tool that can be used to address this need for organisational change. The steps are useful to those who see the need within their own organisations to embrace sustainability, and can also provide some perspective on wider societal change for activists and campaigners.
In summary, the steps read as follows;
1) Create urgency
2) Form a powerful coalition
3) Create a vision for change
4) Communicate the vision
5) Remove obstacles
6) Create short term wins
7) Build on the change
8) Anchor the changes in corporate culture