In the last New Synergist Insights I discussed some of the reasons that Change Efforts fail. In this month’s Insights, I will discuss the importance of utilizing change models in order to increase the likelihood of creating successful change efforts.

Kurt Lewin’s Change Management Model

Kurt Lewin created this model more than 60 years ago. Lewin was a psychologist and he believed that most of people prefer to operate within their “safety” zones. He proposed a three-stage change model:

  1. Unfreeze – Overcoming the tendency to resist change, a period of thawing or unfreezing must be initiated through various means of motivation.
  2. Change – During this phase the organization moves into a period of change and transition. Leadership actions including the creation of buy-in is necessary for this phase to be successful.
  3. Freeze – After change has been accepted and successfully implemented, the organization stabilizes and “freezes”, operating under the new processes.

Kotter’s 8 Step Change Model

This model was created by Harvard University Professor, John Kotter. Leaders convince employees to buy into the change by convincing them of the urgency and necessity for the change. There are 8 steps are involved in this model (updated in 2014):

  1. Create A Sense of Urgency
  2. Build A Guiding Coalition
  3. Form Strategic Vision & Initiatives
  4. Enlist a volunteer army
  5. Enable action by removing barriers
  6. Generate short-term wins
  7. Sustain acceleration
  8. Institute change

There are other models (including the Mckinsey 7S (holistic focus) & Burke-Litwin (understanding the drivers of change) but due to space limitations we will only look at Lewin and Kotter (for now). The Lewin and Kotter models are arguably the most used models and have several similarities. The benefit of both the Lewin and Kotter models is due in part to their ease of use due to their relative simplicity. You may also note that the focus of both models is on getting people to preparing for and accept change. Change management models can help organizations understand the change process. These models can also support planning, communication, and feedback during the change process.

In the September issue of New Synergist Insights I will discuss the Lewin and Kotter models in more detail and highlight how Organizational Change Models support successful change in organizations.