change management

Change management (people)

Change Management is a structured approach to transitioning individuals, teams, and organizations from a current state to a desired future state. The current definition of Change Management includes both organizational change management processes and individual change management models, which together are used to manage the people side of change.

Individual change management

A number of models are available for understanding the transitioning of individuals through the phases of change management and strengthening organizational development initiative in both government and corporate sectors.


An early model of change developed by Kurt Lewin described change as a three-stage process. The first stage he called "unfreezing". It involved overcoming inertia and dismantling the existing "mindset". Defense mechanisms have to be bypassed. In the second stage the change occurs. This is typically a period of confusion and transition. We are aware that the old ways are being challenged but we do not have a clear picture to replace them with yet. The third and final stage he called "freezing" (often called "refreezing" by others). The new mindset is crystallizing and one's comfort level is returning to previous levels. Rosch (2002) argues that this often quoted three-stage version of Lewin’s approach is an oversimplification and that his theory was actually more complex and owed more to physics than behavioural science. Later theorists have however remained resolute in their interpretation of the force field model. This three-stage approach to change is also adopted by Hughes (1991) who makes reference to: "exit" (departing from an existing state), "transit" (crossing unknown territory), and "entry" (attaining a new equilibrium). Tannenbaum & Hanna (1985) suggest a change process where movement is from "homeostasis and holding on", through "dying and letting go" to "rebirth and moving on". Although elaborating the process to five stages, Judson (1991) still proposes a linear, staged model of implementing a change: (a) analysing and planning the change; (b) communicating the change; (c) gaining acceptance of new behaviours; (d) changing from the status quo to a desired state, and (e) consolidating and institutionalising the new state.


Some change theories are based on derivatives of the Kübler-Ross model from Elizabeth Kubler-Ross's book, "On Death and Dying." The stages of Kubler-Ross's model describe the personal and emotional states that a person typically encounters when dealing with loss of a loved one. Derivatives of her model applied in other settings such as the workplace show that similar emotional states are encountered as individuals are confronted with change.

Formula for Change

A Formula for Change was developed by Richard Beckhard and David Gleicher and is sometimes referred to as Gleicher's Formula. The Formula illustrates that the combination of organisational dissatisfaction, vision for the future and the possibility of immediate, tactical action must be stronger than the resistance within the organisation in order for meaningful changes to occur.


The ADKAR model for individual change management was developed by Prosci with input from more than 1000 organizations from 59 countries. This model describes five required building blocks for change to be realized successfully on an individual level. The building blocks of the ADKAR Model include:

  1. Awareness – of why the change is needed
  2. Desire – to support and participate in the change
  3. Knowledge – of how to change
  4. Ability – to implement new skills and behaviors
  5. Reinforcement – to sustain the change

Organizational change management

Organizational change management includes processes and tools for managing the people side of the change at an organizational level. These tools include a structured approach that can be used to effectively transition groups or organizations through change. When combined with an understanding of individual change management, these tools provide a framework for managing the people side of change. Organizational change management processes include techniques for creating a change management strategy (readiness assessments), engaging senior managers as change leaders (sponsorship), building awareness of the need for change (communications), developing skills and knowledge to support the change(education and training), helping employees move through the transition (coaching by managers and supervisors), and methods to sustain the change (measurement systems, rewards and reinforcement).

Dynamic conservatism

This model by Donald Sch%C3%B6n explores the inherent nature of organisations to be conservative and protect themselves from constant change. Schön recognises the increasing need, due to the increasing pace of change for this process to become far more flexible. This process being one of 'learning'. Very early on Schön recognised the need for what is now termed the 'learning organization'. These ideas are further expanded on within his frame work of 'reflection-in-action', the mapping of a process by which this constant change could be coped with.

The role of the management

Management's responsibility (and that of administration in case of political changes) is to detect trends in the macroenvironment as well as in the microenvironment so as to be able to identify changes and initiate programs. It is also important to estimate what impact a change will likely have on employee behaviour patterns, work processes, technological requirements, and motivation. Management must assess what employee reactions will be and craft a change program that will provide support as workers go through the process of accepting change. The program must then be implemented, disseminated throughout the organization, monitored for effectiveness, and adjusted where necessary. Organizations exist within a dynamic environment that is subject to change due to the impact of various change "triggers", such as evolving technologies. To continue to operate effectively within this environmental turbulence, organizations must be able to change themselves in response to internally and externally initiated change. However, change will also impact upon the individuals within the organization. Effective change management requires an understanding of the possible effects of change upon people, and how to manage potential sources of resistance to that change. Change can be said to occur where there is an imbalance between the current state and the environment.

Other Approaches to Managing Change

  • Appreciative Inquiry, a collaborative approach to organizational change, is partly based on the assumption that change in a system is instantaneous ('Change at the Speed of Imagination')
  • Scenario Planning: Scenario planning provides a platform for doing so by asking management and employees to consider different future market possibilities in which their organizations might find themselves.
  • Organize with Chaos of Rowley and Roevens, who describe Change as a process where certain events need to be managed whereas others need to be 'under'managed, left alone to self-organize and improve the business naturally.
  • Theory U of Otto Scharmer who describes a process in which change strategies are based on the emerging future rather than on lesson from the past.

The constructionist principle

The map is not the territory: The :map/territory relation is proven by neuroscience and is used to signify that individual people do not have access to absolute knowledge of reality, but in fact only have access to a set of beliefs they have built up over time, about reality. It has been coined into a model by Chris Argyris called the Ladder of Inference. As a consequence, communication in change processes needs to make sure that information about change and its consequences is presented in such a way that people with different belief systems can access this information. Methods that are based on the Map/Territory Relation help people to:

  • become more aware of their own thinking and reasoning (reflection),
  • make their thinking and reasoning more visible to others (advocacy), and
  • inquire into others' thinking and reasoning (inquiry).

Some methodological frameworks that are based on this principle are:

See also


Further reading

  • Worren, N. A. M.; Ruddle, K.; and K. Moore. 1999. "From Organizational Development to Change Management: The Emergence of a New Profession," The Journal of Applied Behavioral Science. 35 (3): 273-286.
  • Beckhard, R. 1969. Organization Development: Strategies and Models, Addison-Wesley, Reading, MA.
  • Hiatt, J. 2006. ADKAR: A Model for Change in Business, Government and the Community, Learning Center Publications, Loveland, CO.
  • Kubler-Ross, E. 1970. On Death and Dying, Macmillan Company, England.
  • LaMarsh, J; Potts, R. 2004. Master Change, Maximize Success, Duncan Baird
  • Schön, D. A. (1973) Beyond the Stable State. Public and private learning in a changing society, Harmondsworth: Penguin
  • Beitler, Michael 2006. "Strategic Organizational Change, Second Edition." Practitioner Press International.
  • Rogers, E. M., (2003). Diffusion Of Innovation, New York: Free Press
  • Tabrizi, N. B., (2007). Rapid Transformation, Harvard Business School Press.
  • Nelson, K and Aaron, S (2005). The Change Management Pocket Guide, Change Guides LLC.
  • Hiatt, J. 2003. Change Management: the people side of change. Learning Center Publications, Loveland, CO.

External links

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