Change Management Models: The Basics

Explore the different change management models and choose the best one for your business by learning their pros, cons, and use cases.

board meeting on choosing the best change models

What are Change Management Models?

Change management models are structured processes, methodologies, or theories that provide detailed strategies to manage organizational change. Their goal is to guide businesses through the change process, ensuring that the proposed changes are accepted and implemented effectively with minimal to zero operational disruptions and employee resistance.

Benefits of Choosing the Right Change Management Model

Selecting the appropriate change management model provides significant benefits for businesses because it enables them to tailor their approach to specific organizational dynamics.

By carefully assessing factors such as company size, the nature of proposed changes, current organizational climate, and anticipated outcomes, businesses can determine which model aligns most effectively with their unique circumstances to drive the desired changes.

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The 5 Best Change Management Models

Change management models enable businesses to navigate the human aspect and practical sides of change by giving frameworks for planning, implementing, and tracking changes to achieve the expected outcomes.

1. Lewin’s Change Management Model

Lewin’s Change Management Model is one of the most recognized models due to its simplicity. This change management model focuses on understanding the forces that drive or resist change and provides a clear path to transition from the current state to the desired future state. Developed by a German-American psychologist named Kurt Lewin, it follows a three-stage process:

  1. Unfreeze: Preparing the company for change by addressing the reasons for the change and gaining the acceptance of employees
  2. Change: The process of moving the current state to the desired future state
  3. Refreeze: Establishing stability of the implemented changes

Advantages and disadvantages of lewin

2. McKinsey 7-S Model

The McKinsey 7S Model is a strategic planning tool that analyzes a company’s organizational design by examining seven key internal components. Developed by McKinsey consultants in the 1980s, this model focuses on the interdependence and alignment of the following components to achieve organizational changes:

  1. Strategy: The plan to achieve a competitive advantage
  2. Structure: The organization’s hierarchy and reporting lines
  3. Systems: The daily procedures and processes
  4. Shared Values: Core values and corporate culture
  5. Skills: The capabilities and competencies of the employees
  6. Style: Leadership approach and management style
  7. Staff: The employees and their general capabilities

pros and cons of mckinsey 7s model

3. Nudge Theory

As the name suggests, Nudge Theory focuses on “nudging” or indirectly guiding workers toward desired behaviors to drive results without force or explicit directives. It leverages psychological principles to influence actions and implement change in the organization by:

  1. Clearly Defining the Change: Clearly state the objectives, expected transformations, needs, shared values, long-term goals, and impacts on the organization and individuals.
  2. Considering the Employees’ Points of View: Identify employees’ views on the change and determine who will be directly affected and responsible for its sustainability.
  3. Creating a Plan and Setting the Timeline: Plan the change with specific milestones and KPIs to track progress.
  4. Keeping Decision- Making Inclusive: Present the change as an option, inviting employees’ opinions to foster support.
  5. Seeking Feedback: Regularly gather feedback from employees and leaders to identify and address obstacles.
  6. Negating Obstacles: Minimize obstacles by updating systems, improving motivation strategies, and tracking issues.
  7. Maintaining Consistency: Keep up the momentum by celebrating milestones and integrating the change into everyday business.

nudge theory pros and cons

4. Kübler-Ross Change Curve

Originally developed for describing the stages of grief, the Kübler-Ross Change Curve has been adapted to understand how individuals emotionally react to change in various contexts, including the workplace. The 5 stages of emotional response include:

  1. Shock and Denial: Surprise and initial resistance to change
  2. Anger: Frustration and emotional upset
  3. Bargaining: Attempting to avoid change
  4. Depression: Realization of the inevitable
  5. Acceptance: Embracing the change

kubler-ross change model advantages and disadvantages

5. Kotter’s Theory

Kotter’s theory offers a structured approach for organizations to manage change effectively. It emphasizes leadership and employee involvement as key components for navigating through complexities associated with the proposed change. The theory promotes employee engagement and fosters a culture of ongoing enhancement by following these 8 steps:

  1. Create a sense of urgency: Highlight the need for change.
  2. Form a powerful coalition: Assemble a team to lead the change.
  3. Create a vision for change: Develop a clear vision and strategy.
  4. Communicate the vision: Share the vision with the organization.
  5. Remove obstacles: Identify and eliminate barriers.
  6. Create short-term wins: Achieve quick, visible successes.
  7. Build on the change: Sustain momentum by building on early wins.
  8. Anchor the changes in corporate culture: Embed the changes in the organizational culture.

kotter change model pros and cons

Ramon Meris
Article by

Ramon Meris

SafetyCulture Content Specialist
Ramon is a content writer and researcher for SafetyCulture. He has written articles on a wide range of health, safety, and operational topics. His professional background in investment banking and academic training in the humanities enable him to create informative and engaging content that aims to promote workplace safety and efficiency across multiple industries.