Understanding the Three Stages of Change

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MeltingIceChange is a common thread that runs through all businesses regardless of size, industry and age. They say the only constant in the world is change.

Our world is changing fast and, as such, organizations must change quickly too. Organizations that handle change well thrive, whilst those that do not may struggle to survive.

The concept of “change management” is a familiar one in most businesses today. But, how businesses manage change (and how successful they are at it) varies enormously depending on the nature of the business, the change and the people involved. And a key part of this depends on how far people within it understand the change process.

One of the cornerstone models for understanding organizational change was developed by Kurt Lewin back in the 1950s, and still holds true today. His model is known as Unfreeze – Change – Refreeze, refers to the three-stage process of change he describes. Lewin, a physicist as well as social scientist, explained organizational change using the analogy of changing the shape of a block of ice.

Lewin’s Change Management Model: Kurt Lewin’s Unfreeze-Change-Refreeze Theory

You can also find out more about this theory at http://www.mindtools.com/pages/article/newPPM_94.htm The concept of “change management” is a familiar one in most businesses today. But, how businesses manage change (and how successful they are at it) varies enormously depending on the nature of the business, the change, and the people involved.

Practical Steps for Using the Framework:

Unfreeze

1. Determine what needs to change.

  • Survey the organization to understand the current state.
  • Understand why change has to take place.

2. Ensure there is strong support from upper management.

3. Create the need for change.

  • Create a compelling message as to why change has to occur.
  • Use your vision and strategy as supporting evidence.
  • Communicate the vision in terms of the change required.
  • Emphasize the “why”.

4. Manage and understand the doubts and concerns.

  • Remain open to employee concerns and address in terms of the need to change.

Change

1. Communicate often.

  • Do so throughout the planning and implementation of the changes.
  • Describe the benefits.
  • Explain exactly the how the changes will effect everyone.
  • Prepare everyone for what is coming.

2. Dispel rumours.

  • Answer questions openly and honestly.
  • Deal with problems immediately.
  • Relate the need for change back to operational necessities.

3. Empower action.

  • Provide lots of opportunity for employee involvement.
  • Have line managers provide day-to-day direction.

4. Involve people in the process.

  • Generate short-term wins to reinforce the change.
  • Negotiate with external stakeholders as necessary (such as employee organizations).

Refreeze

1. Anchor the changes into the culture.

  • Identity what supports the change.
  • Identify barriers to sustaining change.

2. Develop ways to sustain the change.

  • Ensure leadership support.
  • Create a reward system.
  • Establish feedback systems.
  • Adapt the organizational structure as necessary.

3. Provide support and training.

  • Keep everyone informed and supported.

4. Celebrate success!

Key Points

Lewin’s change model is a simple and easy-to-understand framework for managing change.

By recognizing these three distinct stages of change, you can plan to implement the change required. You start by creating the motivation to change (unfreeze). You move through the change process by promoting effective communications and empowering people to embrace new ways of working (change). And the process ends when you return the organization to a sense of stability (refreeze), which is so necessary for creating the confidence from which to embark on the next, inevitable change.

 

Full article at Mindtools.