Change Management Model #1

Change Management Model

Understanding the 3 Core Transitions to smart Change Management

Check state-Unfreeze-Adjust & Change- Check-State -Refreeze – Check state

Change is the new norm in all businesses. The world is changing constantly and in order to thrive, organizations must become resilient, Agile and adaptable…

Organizations, teams and people who handle change well will thrive. Those that do          not may struggle to maintain status quo or survive.

The concept of “change management” is a familiar to most leaders. But the biggest challenge is HOW to do it best – 70% of Change initiatives Fail to deliver!

One of the cornerstone models for framing and understanding organizational change was developed by Kurt Lewin in the 1940s.

His model is known as Unfreeze – Change – Refreeze

This Simple Change Management Model  refers to the 3-stage change process. Lewin, was a physicist as well as social scientist, explained organizational change management using the analogy of changing the shape of a block of ice.

Understanding Lewin’s Change Management Model

  • You start with a large cube of ice, but realize that you NEED a cone of ice. What do you do do?
  • First you must melt the ice to make it amenable to change (unfreeze). Then you must mold the iced water into the shape you want (change).
  • Finally, you must solidify the new shape (refreeze).

By looking at change management  as a simple process with distinct stages, you can prepare  yourself for what’s coming and make a plan to manage the transition                    – looking before you leap, so to speak. All too often, people go into  change blindly, causing much unnecessary turmoil and chaos.

To begin any successful change process, you must first start by                   understanding why the change must take place. As Lewin put it,                   “Motivation for change must be generated before change can occur. One                   must be helped to re-examine many cherished assumptions about oneself                   and one’s relations to others.” This is the unfreezing stage from                   which change begins.


This first stage of change involves preparing the organization to                   accept that change is necessary, which involves break down the                   existing status quo before you can build up a new way of operating.

Key to this is developing a compelling message showing why the                   existing way of doing things cannot continue. This is easiest to                   frame when you can point to declining sales figures, poor financial                   results, worrying customer satisfaction surveys, or suchlike: These                   show that things have to change in a way that everyone can                   understand.

To prepare the organization successfully, you need to start at its                   core – you need to challenge the beliefs, values, attitudes, and                   behaviors that currently define it. Using the analogy of a building,                   you must examine and be prepared to change the existing foundations                   as they might not support add-on storeys; unless this is done, the                   whole building may risk collapse.

This first part of the change process is usually the most difficult                   and stressful. When you start cutting down the “way things are done”,                   you put everyone and everything off balance. You may evoke strong                   reactions in people, and that’s exactly what needs to done.

By forcing the organization to re-examine its core, you effectively                   create a (controlled) crisis, which in turn can build a strong                   motivation to seek out a new equilibrium. Without this motivation,                   you won’t get the buy-in and participation necessary to effect any                   meaningful change.


After the uncertainty created in the unfreeze stage, the change stage                   is where people begin to resolve their uncertainty and look for new                   ways to do things. People start to believe and act in ways that                   support the new direction.

The transition from unfreeze to change does not happen overnight:                   People take time to embrace the new direction and participate                   proactively in the change. A related change model, the Change Curve,                   focuses on the specific issue of personal transitions in a changing                   environment and is useful for understanding this specific aspect in                   more detail.

In order to accept the change and contribute to making the change                   successful, people need to understand how the changes will benefit                   them. Not everyone will fall in line just because the change is                   necessary and will benefit the company. This is a common assumption                   and pitfall that should be avoided.

Tip:                         Unfortunately, some people will genuinely be harmed by change,                         particularly those who benefit strongly from the status quo.                         Others may take a long time to recognize the benefits that                         change brings. You need to foresee and manage these situations.

Time and communication are the two keys to success for the changes to                   occur. People need time to understand the changes and they also need                   to feel highly connected to the organization throughout the                   transition period. When you are managing change, this can require a                   great deal of time and effort and hands-on management is usually the                   best approach.


When the changes are taking shape and people have embraced the new                   ways of working, the organization is ready to refreeze. The outward                   signs of the refreeze are a stable organization chart, consistent job                   descriptions, and so on. The refreeze stage also needs to help people                   and the organization internalize or institutionalize the changes.                   This means making sure that the changes are used all the time; and                   that they are incorporated into everyday business. With a new sense                   of stability, employees feel confident and comfortable with the new                   ways of working.

The rationale for creating a new sense of stability in our every                   changing world is often questioned. Even though change is a constant                   in many organizations, this refreezing stage is still important.                   Without it, employees get caught in a transition trap where they                   aren’t sure how things should be done, so nothing ever gets done to                   full capacity. In the absence of a new frozen state, it is very                   difficult to tackle the next change initiative effectively. How do                   you go about convincing people that something needs changing if you                   haven’t allowed the most recent changes to sink in? Change will be                   perceived as change for change’s sake, and the motivation required to                   implement new changes simply won’t be there.

As part of the Refreezing process, make sure that you celebrate the                   success of the change – this helps people to find closure, thanks                   them for enduring a painful time, and helps them believe that future                   change will be successful.

Practical Steps for Using the Framework:


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.

  • Use Stakeholder Analysis and Stakeholder Management to identify and                     win the support of key people within the organization.
  • Frame the issue as one of organization-wide importance.

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.


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 rumors.

  • 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).


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.