Implementing team huddles in small rural hospitals: How does the Kotter model of change apply?

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To examine how the process of change prescribed in Kotter's change model applies in implementing team huddles, and to assess the impact of the execution of early change phases on change success in later phases.


Kotter's model can help to guide hospital leaders to implement change and potentially to improve success rates. However, the model is under studied, particularly in health care.


We followed eight hospitals implementing team huddles for 2 years, interviewing the change teams quarterly to inquire about implementation progress. We assessed how the hospitals performed in the three overarching phases of the Kotter model, and examined whether performance in the initial phase influenced subsequent performance.


In half of the hospitals, change processes were congruent with Kotter's model, where performance in the initial phase influenced their success in subsequent phases. In other hospitals, change processes were incongruent with the model, and their success depended on implementation scope and the strategies employed.


We found mixed support for the Kotter model. It better fits implementation that aims to spread to multiple hospital units. When the scope is limited, changes can be successful even when steps are skipped.


Kotter's model can be a useful guide for nurse managers implementing changes.

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