Top 5 Change Management Models


 — May 16th, 2019

Top 5 Change Management Models

Whether considering a small change to an isolated area of your business, or an all-encompassing rebuild from the ground up, it's important to understand the methods available to plan, facilitate, and implement the changes you want to make within your team (or the company as a whole). It's a stressful time and, as always, there's a lot riding on getting it right. Fortunately, you've come to the right place.

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Here are five change models designed to help you make the right choice.

The Kurt Lewin Model

Kurt Lewin's three-stage model has been around since the 1940s. It's tried, tested, and true. The basic premise of Lewin's strategy revolves around three central ideas:

  • Unfreeze
  • Change
  • Freeze

The first step in the cycle, 'unfreeze', focuses in on preparation and awareness. Being aware of the current 'frozen' way of operating and re-evaluating processes to identify areas for improvement. The second stage, 'change', is about implementing new processes and ideas, before 'freezing' the business and resetting the status quo in step three.

Although focused on practical aspects, it's important to note that the Kurt Lewin model also addresses the psychological factors involved in the above aspects of change, and how these stages can affect the individual. More importantly, the Kurt Lewin model highlights how important it is for managers to be aware of this.

Kotter's 8-Step Model

Next up is Kotter.

This eight-step model expands on the previous Kurt Lewin design by focusing in on each step, breaking them down, and creating sub-steps for a more thorough, in-depth approach to strategizing change. Kotter's eight steps are:

  • Create a sense of urgency
  • Build a guiding coalition
  • Form a strategic vision and initiatives
  • Enlist a volunteer army
  • Enable action by removing barriers
  • Create short-term wins
  • Sustain acceleration
  • Institute change

Kotter's model is an all-inclusive, business-employee focused strategy designed to cover both psychological and practical aspects of any major business-related change, and is generally used in instances of systemic, large-scale changes within an organization.

The Kubler-Ross Model

It's 1960, and Elisabeth Kubler-Ross invents her 5-step model for coping with grief. Almost sixty years later and we're still using this psychological framework to cope with not only loss and personal trauma, but guiding employees through a period of change in business.

The Kubler-Ross change curve is a people-focused model that places the emphasis firmly on your team and the way that they adapt – or don't adapt – to change. Kubler-Ross sets out how to facilitate that transition to ensure the team are all pulling in the right direction throughout the change cycle.

The ADKAR Model

Ah, ADKAR. That's Awareness, Desire, Knowledge, Ability, and Reinforcement, to you and me. Relatively speaking, the ADKAR model is the new kid on the block. Developed in 2003 by author and entrepreneur Jeff Hiatt, this system promotes knowledge to counter the atavistic reactions we harbor towards change. Such workplace-based changes usually provoke fear, on some level, due to the mismanagement of information.

The five-tier sequential ADKAR approach focuses on the dissemination of knowledge and information as a means of equipping your team, mentally, in times of change and upheaval. As such, this model works for changes both large and small and is applicable to instances of both internal and external change.

The McKinsey 7-S Model

The McKinsey model is a seven stage change system developed in the late 1970s by the company of the same name.

With an eye towards the strategic, the McKinsey model can be used not only as an immediate and implementable business tool but also as a framework to measure and forecast the effects of potential future periods of change. McKinsey's seven steps comprise strategy, structure, systems, shared values, style, staff, and skills.

Each step is designed around prompting you to ask the questions you need in order to either achieve or project your desired outcome. As such, The McKinsey model can be used as a great analytical tool, covering everything from the largest upheaval to the smallest change within your business.

When considering a change in your business, whether it's the simplicity of the Kurt Lewin model or the analytical and complex McKinsey 7-S system, the most important piece of the puzzle is choosing the right model for you, and your company's unique situation.

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