What are some of the change management models?

Nik LemmensBusiness PlanLeave a Comment

What are some of the change management models?

We live in a business world where change management is constantly referred to and much is made of its importance, it’s a really wide subject area with plenty of opinions.  Here is our take on the most well known theories and approaches as with all of this stuff focus on making it appropriate or relevant to your circumstance and remember it’s a tool to help not the answer.

Change management is unique to every organisation, because every group of people and processes are unlike the next. However, there are common approaches that work across sectors and companies.

Various change management models can be applied in a range of situations and sectors. They are a template for successful change management and should be used as the basis for the process of improving an organisation. Several different strategies exists and you will find commonalities, but it’s important to understand the basic models and why they’re used so you can take the right approach for your organisation.

Basic change management models

Kotter’s 8-Step Change Model

This was set out by Harvard professor John Kotter in his bestseller Leading Change, which is seen as a seminal work on change management.

1. Establish the urgency for change
2. Build a team – the guiding coalition for change.
3. Develop your vision
4. Communicate this vision
5. Empower staff to effect change
6. Build in short-term wins
7. Consolidate gains and lead new change
8. Embed the new approach in the culture

Lewin’s Change Management Model

Psychologist Kurt Lewin was the brains behind this one, a more succinct approach to change management developed in the 1950s.

It’s a three-stage process (although there are multiple stages within these stages that require building on).

Unfreeze – Get the organisation ready to accept change as necessary – make the case for change by showing why things cannot go on as before. It creates uncertainty – but this is not just a negative. The idea of creating a sense of an organisation in transition is vital.

Change – Once the unsticking has been done, we start to resolve and move forward. It takes time and people need to be brought on board. But once begun, the Change phase is unstoppable.

Refreeze – Change has been complete, now time to ‘refreeze’ which simply means to consolidate the gains and formalise the new processes. Don’t forget to celebrate the success and provide a way for ongoing feedback to allow for continuous improvement within the context of the new approaches.
McKinsey 7-S Model

The McKinsey 7-S Model focuses more on the agents of change. These 7 are shared values; strategy; structure; systems; style; staff; skills. The idea is that all seven elements need to aligned and all be focused on the same goals.


ADKAR was created by Jeff Hiatt in 2003 and focuses on individual changes as a necessary prerequisite for organisational change.

A- Awareness (why change is necessary)
D – Desire (get people bought in)
K – Knowledge (ensure they have the tools to change)
A – Ability – (help them develop the skills for change)
R- Reinforcement (consolidate the change and embed in the culture)

As Improvement Partners is focused on the SME end of the business spectrum you may be thinking that all of this sounds a little over the top?  As we said in the intro these models and techniques are well proven as a tool in helping to make change happen [and stick] they need to be interpreted and used by you appropriately.  We would suggest that once you are working with more that  few people in your organisation it is useful to understand and apply some of the approaches.  We would always however suggest that you carefully consider which is appropriate and make sure that you use them sparingly and only where it is focused on increasing your success.

Image by R/DV/RS published under creative commons

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *