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Change _management_models_the key_to_project_success

Change management models

Did you know? That 83% of project's that meet or exceed objectives have great change management programmes in place?* I'll bet if you are a member of a well functioning project team then you probably had a good idea.

Successful projects and programmes have a common denominator - successful change programmes. Sometimes the objectives of these teams can differ greatly but their end goal is the same, successful business transformation.

Part of the essential toolkit for every organisation going through any sort of transformation are the change models used. These are the toolkits that help the organisation identify, plan for and take the required action when reducing resistance to the change.

We are going to give you a summary of two of the most popular of these such models with examples of how they can be used. There are many more. In this we cover the very first and also one of the most popular models. 

Change model : Lewin’s three stage model

The pioneer in change models, Lewin’s, is one of the most well-known and is by far the simplest to follow. It is still fairly widely used and was ground breaking when first created. The biggest benefit of the model is that it is so simple. Any organisation, even one with little experience in change initiatives, can follow it.

Change occurs in three stages and the model acknowledges that change has obstacles or ‘forces’ that will push against the change and resist it. The three stages are:

1. Unfreezing

Preparation stage. Here is where we assess the need for change, unpick the status quo and create the sense of urgency needed for the change to take place. We support the change by communicating why we cannot continue in the old way. It here that we also begin to manage the uncertainty. The champions for the change begin to alter the existing mindset.

There are three elements to the preparation stage: defining the current situation; creating a vision for the desired new state and identifying the driving and resisting forces, (increasing and decreasing them respectively).

How is this achieved?

Through effective communication! Dealing with the anxieties of the resisting forces and enhancing the positive effects of the driving forces.

2. Change

Transition stage: We begin making the changes (using continuous and open communication), dealing with the negative forces that resist the change and enhancing the positive forces for change (those that support the changes taking place).

How is this achieved?

A plan, changing the processes, empowerment of those involved to be a part of the solution and using great role models that advocate the change. Rewarding those that are internalising the changes.

3. Refreeze

Adjustment stage. We are now supporting the new status quo and finding ways that this can be sustained.

How is this achieved?

Supporting the change so that old ways are not reverted back to and celebrating the successes the new change is bringing us. The ‘refreeze’ stage is when the new working practices are adopted as standard; the new approach becomes the norm; adherence to the new change is rewarded and worked towards.

The benefits of this model lie in its simplicity. That it can easily be adapted by any organisation no matter how new to change. However, this is also a point of criticism that, in its simplicity it does not account for ‘consistent change’ rather than reaching a new status quo and remaining there for some time.

Change model : Jean Paul Kotter’s 8 stage

The next model we cover deals with change at a deeper level and describes the ‘processes involved in change’. It is therefore more of a roadmap for change. John Paul Kotters eight stage model breaks Lewin’s model down into more detail. In his book ‘Leading Change’ he describes the eight stages as:

1. Establishing a sense of urgency

We need change and we need it now! Express the reasons why the change is needed and that it provides a solution to the problem. Start the conversation, deal with objections and seek support.

2. Creating the coalition

The people affected by the change will need to see that it has influential advocates. Create a unified team of supporters and stakeholders that can continue to drive and become ambassadors for the change. Think about who will be your best persuaders. This will involve people at all kinds of levels within the structure.

3. Developing a vision and a strategy

You must articulate your vision and strategy so it is simple for people to understand at all levels and can be communicated clearly by those helping to implement and support the change. This must consist of a vision and mission statement: Vision: What will the change look like after the change has taken place? This statement is meant to inspire, guide and motivate. Mission statement: Expressing the goal and the values that underpin the vision.

4. Communicating the change vision

This is not just about communicating. You must broadcast, instil and embed your change through communication at every opportunity that arises. Connect what people are doing and their objectives to the vision that you have created. This is the point at which you give people a chance to communicate their anxieties so that you can deal with them.

5. Remove the obstacles

Deal with the obstacles by identifying the resisters to change and help them deal with their anxieties. Likewise, enhance the positive vision of change by getting influencers within the organisation and advocates at all levels, involved in the communication of its benefits.

6. Generating short-term wins

Longer terms goals can fade into the distant but short term wins that are just ahead will instil motivation. Understand that people will be motivated by initial victories. It will be easier to take them along with you if they see benefits from the start. Create reward systems that are related to the change target.

7. Consolidating gains and producing more change

A series of small quick wins are good but will not see the change programme through. Lessons learned exercises and benefits assessments need to be complete after each success. More ambitious goals must be achieved to sustain the change.

8. Anchoring new approaches in the culture

Ensure that the change is so embedded in the culture of your company that it is the new status quo and no longer open to vulnerability. This means that the change initiative, even after deemed successful, needs to be continually communicated as such and its advocates continually recognised and rewarded.

The benefits of this model are that it provides a roadmap and directive for conducting change. Kotter recognises that organisations are generally focused on business as usual and not ready for change. He recognises that an additional system next to ‘business as usual’ is required for dealing with change effectively.

While producing more detail as almost an extension to Lewin’s model, one common criticism is that it accounts for the actions of the change team and leadership but not the feelings and contributions of the employees themselves.

There is much more to change management and the models executed in it’s delivery. If you would like more information why not visit our change management training page or contact us on:

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*PROSCI 2023