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Theories and models of change management

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Published: Mon, 5 Dec 2016

Nothing in this world is at the state of constant static. Everything is changing. Likewise, organisations are also changing all the time. If we look few decades back things have changed a lot. Change neither disappears nor dissipates. It is a process which is inevitable. What is important is how we manage the change to get the best out of it. Change is the major driving force for a company to be innovative and experiment with new management styles and tools. Changes can bring fortune in the company with improved profit margins and satisfied employees provided that the changes are handled properly with appropriate management strategies, however, if the organisations fails to come across the appropriate and effective management strategies then it can affect the company badly and at worst even collapsing or bankruptcy. So, the changes that an organisation face has to be planned, organised, directed, controlled and channelled effectively. This requires a good leadership quality in the leader whoever that might be. Leaders can be CEO, Mangers, Chairperson or Board of Directors depending on the organisation.

There are many management thinkers at different times who have proposed many different theories and model regarding the nature of change management and how to manage the changes effectively for better of the organisations. The next section of this essay will look at the different management thinkers and their management theories and models and their relevance with the changing business environment and how it is crucial for an organisation to undergo changes for its prosperity and progress.

One of the first and most popular theories of change management was given by Kurt Lewin (1890-1947). Lewin’s model is rather simple however other change management theories are based on this model. Lewin’s model of change is divided into three stages of unfreeze, change and freeze referring 3 stages of changes

The first step in the change in the behaviour is to unfreeze the existing situation which is also called quo state which is the equilibrium state. Unfreezing of the quo state is very important to break the resistance from the change. It can be done with either increasing driving forces away from the quo state or decrease the restraining forces that negatively affects the movement away from the equilibrium or use the both method .(Stephen, 2003)

The second step which is the change stage is the movement where all the changes happen. This movement can be facilitated with by persuading the employees to agree on the changes, telling them the benefits of the changes and making them sure that everybody has to work together to get the best out of the changes and show them new perspectives.(Stephen, 2003)

The third step is the freezing stage which is the step after the change has been implemented. This stage of the change is required for the changes to stick over time. Sustainability is very important when new changes have been made. The new changes have to be properly institutionalised and formally accepted by all. The actual integration of the new changes takes place in this unfreeze stage. (Stephen, 2003)

According to Lewin (1951) driving forces facilitate change because they push employees in the desired direction. Restraining forces hinder change because they push employees in the opposite direction. Therefore, these forces must be analyzed and Lewin’s three-step model can help shift the balance in the direction of the planned change. Changes are very crucial since changes makes new and improved ideas to implement into action possible. (Kanter, R. et al. 1992)

After Lewin’s model many other writers upgraded his theory making it more effective however the fundamental aspects were still there. One of the most popular model of change management is Kotter’s eight step model (Kotter, 1995). According to Kotter, successful implementation of change depends on the eight steps as proposed by him. Skipping any one of the eight steps might create illusion of speeding of the process but it does not improve the effectiveness of change.(Singh,1963)

His eight steps include the following steps:

Create a sense of urgency: This step includes analysing the market and examining the possible risks and opportunities along with the competition in the market. (Kotter,1996)

Establishing the powerful group to guide the change: This step is to create a group which is capable to handle the changes and has enough power to lead the effort. The group should be encouraged to work as a team. (Kotter,1996)

Develop a vision: This stage includes creating a proper vision of change in the organisation. Apart from this the change should be highly focused and should be in rather simple form so that everyone understands and accepts. (Kotter,1996)

Communicate the vision : The vision that has been proposed has to be delivered or explained to everyone. A good communication of the vision is very important. (Kotter,1996)

Empower staff: The next step is empowering the staffs. This step includes removing hurdles in the change and encouraging new and unconventional ideas and ways of doing things. (Kotter,1996)

Ensure there are short terms win: It is very important to keep the staffs motivated. Short term wins help the staffs to remain motivated. This also helps the support needed for the change. (Kotter,1996)

Consolidate gains: Organisation should check the policies that inhibit or restrain the changes and if there are any, they should be changed. The policies that catalyse the changes should be brought in to action to speed up the change and efficiency. (Kotter,1996)

Institutionalise the change in the culture of the organisation: the changes that have been made should be institutionalised or embedded in the organisation as a culture and should be linked with the performance and leadership. (Kotter,1996)

The first four steps of Kotter’s eight model act as a defroster a hardened equilibrium.

Stages five to seven is the introduction of many new changes. It resembles with the change phase in the Lewin’s model. The last phase grounds the changes that have been made into the business or organisation culture. The success and improvement of the organisation depends on the proper follow of the sequence. ( Kotter,1996)

The next change management model is the ADKAR model proposed by Jeffery M Hait (2006). ADKAR is basically a framework to understand change in the individual level which was later used in the field of business and management. It comprises of five elements which are Awareness (of the need of change), Desire ( to support and participate in the change), Knowledge( of how to change), Ability( to implement required skills and behaviours) and Reinforcement( to sustain the change). (Hait,2006)

Awareness represents the understanding of the need of the change along with the nature and the affects of not going through the change. (Haitt,2006)

Desire represents the desire to participate in the change. Even though desire is much more about the personal choice, it can be created with the intrinsic environment. There are many factors that create desire in the individual about the changes. (Haitt,2006)

Knowledge is the basically the trainings and information access about how to change. Knowledge is very important as it is very necessary to have trainings and information access to implement the change. (Haitt,2006)

Ability shows the actual implementation of the change at the required pace. It also represents the conversion for knowledge into action. How well the changes have been executed depends on the ability of the group or an individual. (Haitt,2006)

Reinforcement represents the sustainability of the change. Sustainability depends on both the intrinsic and extrinsic factors. External factors include recognition, rewards and celebrations that are tied to the realisation of the change. The internal factor is the sense of achievement among the individuals regarding the change.(Haitt,2006)

The ADKAR model is in very much sequential manner. It clearly represents how an individual experiences change. Desire cannot come before awareness because desires are only triggered when we are aware, similarly knowledge cannot come before desire as we do not seek for the knowledge before we have desire for it and similarly ability and reinforcement. (Haitt,2006)

Having discussed the models of change management it is very important to know that these models were not created just for the sake of creating. Their implications have been highly beneficial in the real context. It is very important to realise that the importance of the change in the corporate society. Technological innovations and globalisation has made this world a much smaller place. Changing according to the changing world is necessary otherwise you just lag behind and can become very hard to get along all over again.

To survive and prosper organisations must adopt strategies that realistically reflect their ability to manage multiple future scenarios. ( Paton, McCalman,2000) Business and managers are now faced with ever more complex and high dynamic operating environments than before.

If we take a real life example then we can see that the car companies nowadays not only manufacture cars these days but they do much more than just do the manufacturing. They are involved in how to distribute them more widely and how to get more market share and manufacturing more diverse range of cars.

Another real life example is the example of BRITISH AIRWAYS. Back in 1981 BRITISH AIRWAYS appointed a new chairperson. When he was appointed the company was very inefficient and wasn’t properly utilising the resources. He then made a lot of changes in the company and restructured the whole company. For this he first analysed and realised that the company needed a lot of changes to gain more profit margins and he did so through change management methodology. Then he analysed the areas for the change. The company then systematically reduced the staffs. However, before doing this, through his change management leadership, he let the company know about the need for change to prepare them for the upcoming changes and the benefits behind it. He was able to let the company know about the changes about to happen which shows a good communication and was able to direct the company to prosperity and success.

Change as we already said is inevitable and no one can escape the change. The fear of adjusting into new changes and risks that brings along with it is the reason that restrains the change. Having said that change is one of the most important parts of the growth. There can never be development and growth without change. That’s why different writers and management thinkers have published different theories and model to analyse the mechanism of change so as to better understand the change. These theories work as a testimony to the fact that the change is a real phenomenon and can be analyzed through different steps and methods.

As I have discussed three models of change management in this essay, each model follows the same basic fundamental framework of the mechanism of change. However, each model has a different way of looking at the things.

Lewin’s model is rather simple which sees change into 3 stages resembling it to the stages before the change, during the change and after the change. Lewin’s model is more of a generalised model. So, Lewin’s model of change exhibits the forces that either increase or restrain the changes. To sum up, when the combined strength of one force is greater than the combined strength of the restraining forces, then the change is more likely to happen. (Stephen, 2003) It also says what the factors are that we have to consider during the process of change.

Kotter’s eight model theory sees the change phenomenon into eight different stages. Kotter has defined the change process into many different stages which gives us a more clear idea of how change happens and how a company succeed through change. Kotter’s model describes how market analysis creates the need of changes and how the changes have to be well communicated to the member of staffs to motivate them for the change.

The next theory ADKAR sees change more from individualistic point rather than the change itself. ADKAR says that the staffs have to be aware about the need of change which creates desire for the change. Knowledge increases the ability to cope with the changes and reinforcement stabilises the changes. ADKAR basically cover all the major aspects of change.

These three models of changes have a very good implication in the real world. Lewin’s model being rather simple might not be appropriate for the current change in the business world however the fundamental aspect of change is there. Kotter’s eight model and ADKAR are quite similar. Kotter’s model focus more on the change itself however ADKAR focuses on the individual level. I feel that Kotter’s model covers almost all the aspects of the change. It not only tells about the need of change but also how the changes have to be implemented. It talks about the communication and encouraging each other to work as a team. Apart from this it also says about empowering staffs which is very important and also the motivating factors like short term win makes this model much more applicable for all kinds of institutions and more reliable.

With the end of my literature review I would like to research further on the topic:

” Importance of change for a prosperous future.”

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