Organizational change is an ever-present organizational imperative for survival today. Indeed, if organizations don’t plan for change, they will be forced to change! What change management models are there for organizations to choose from? Let us review some of the change management models here.
Six Top Change Management Models
We will briefly review the following models:
- Kurt Lewin’s Three Step Model
- John Kotter’s Eight Step Plan
- Action Research’s Five Steps Approach to Change
- Organizational Development Approaches
- Culture of Innovation
- Learning Organization
Kurt Lewin’s Change Model
Kurt Lewin advanced the Three Step Model summarized below:
1.Unfreezing the status quo
2.Change to the desired state
3. Refreezing change for permanency
Step 1 of Unfreezing the status quo involves; increasing & stimulating the change driving forces; Removing & minimizing the restraining forces; and overcoming resistance to change.
Step 2 of Changing to desired state includes the quick implementation of change; holistic change implementation; consistent change application and implementing change supporting elements.
Step 3 is refreezing the change by making the change permanent; stabilizing the new; consolidating the change and positively reinforcing the change.
John Kotter’s 8-Step Plan Change Management Model
John Kotter put forward an Eight Step Plan for change as laid out below:
- Establish a compelling reason for change
- Foam a coalition to lead change
- Create a vision and strategies for change
- Communicate the change vision
- Empower others to action vision
- Create short-term wins
- Consolidate change, assess and adjust accordingly
- Reinforce change by linking it with your success
Kotter’s model expands upon Kurt Lewin. Steps 1-4 align with unfreezing. Steps 5-7 with change. Step 8 with refreezing. The model is built upon correcting observed leadership errors at implementing change. According to Kotter, successful change is 70-90% leadership. With change, leadership is the game changer!
Action Research is a change process approach based on systematic data analysis. It adopts a scientific approach to change management, premised on active employee involvement in the change process. Action Research is a change agent led methodology which is problem solving focused. It follows a 5-step approach to change, namely:
Step 1: Diagnosis Step 2: Analysis Step 3: Feedback Step 4: Action Step 5: Evaluation
Diagnosis: Collecting information on problems and change needs
Analysis: Identifying problem areas, primary concerns and possible actions
Feedback: Reporting back findings to organization members
Action: Change agent and members implement change
Evaluation: Evaluating change effectiveness
Organizational Development Change Management Tools
Organizational Development (OD) is a collection of change management tools to improve organizational effectiveness. The tools are built on humanistic and democratic values and premised on organizational growth and employee development. The tools employ participatory approaches and are anchored on respect and support for people; steeped in the spirit of inquiry.
Some of the OD tools include: T-groups or Encounter Groups; Survey Feedback; Process Consultation; Team Building; Intergroup Development and Appreciative Inquiry.
Culture Change Approaches
Organizations can respond to change by adopting the foregoing change models. They may also choose to create cultures that embrace change. They can do this by creating a culture of innovation and/or creating a learning organization.
Culture of Innovation
Creating a culture of innovation in an organization involves: Creating a culture of change. Generating new ideas. Initiating new products, services, processes and systems. Improving existing products, services, processes and systems. These changes can be both incremental as well as revolutionary shifts.
Let’s identify the main sources of innovation to sustain a culture of innovation, namely structural variables, cultural elements and the human resources factors.
Structural variables that sustain a culture of innovation include: Flexible and adaptable structures; cross-functional teams; taskforce and project teams; committee structures; research and development units; and product development units within the organization.
Cultural variables that sustain a culture of innovation include: risk taking tendencies; rewarding both success and failure; rewarding trials even if they end in failure and a research culture.
Human Resources factors that sustain a culture of innovation include: Training and development; coaching and mentoring; transformational leadership; and idea championship.
The Learning Organization Change Approach
An organization can proactively manage change by becoming a learning organization. This can be achieved by: Adopting a culture of continuous growth; developing capacity for continuous change and adaptation; going beyond single-loop learning and adopting double-loop learning.
Single-loop learning is limited learning which is characterized by: Detecting errors; correcting errors based on past practices & current policies; not challenging underlying assumptions of current practices and not seeking to dismantle organizational structure and systems.
Learning organizations are characterized by double-loop learning, which includes: Error detections; correction of errors through changes of objectives, policies, standards, procedures & routines; questioning of underlying assumptions of practices & norms; opportunities for different solutions & improvements; and corrects organizational fragmentation, competition and reactive tendencies.
Learning organizations are therefore, characterized by: Shared vision; discarding old ways & routines for problem solving approaches; Systems view of organizational processes, activities, functions, and interactions; open communication across vertical and horizontal boundaries; and sublimation of organizational vision over self-interests and departmental interests.
A learning organization is created and sustained by: Organizational strategic intent, structural redesign and organizational culture shift.
Reactive and Proactive Approaches to Change
The change management models and approaches discussed here offer both reactive and proactive responses to change. Creating a culture of innovation & creating a learning organization present proactive change approaches. Kurt Lewin and John Kotter models offer reactive responses to change. So do action research and organizational development approaches.
To navigate the volatility, uncertainty, complexities and ambiguity of the business environment, organizations need to: Proactively create innovative cultures for continuous change; proactively create learning organizations for continuous growth and react with agility to change imperatives presented by the environment.