The Main Change Management Implementation Models

If I or any others versed in change management had a pittance for every time we’ve gone over the three primary change management implementation models that are used or closely studied, we’d be very, very wealthy. Indeed, this is something I’ve gone over several times in recent times, so many regular readers may find this very redundant. But, the thing with delivering informative material over a medium like this is, all the time, new readers come along. This means that continuously relevant things like this have to be periodically brought back up.

In the case of change management implementation models, this really doesn’t change very often. Sure, on occasion, new models come around, get attention briefly, and then vanish as unceremoniously as they arrived. But, they rarely have a lasting impact on the “standards” of change management theory.

Before I go over the three of these though, let me touch on something a little down to earth about what change management really is at its core. Because while it is a complex task when applied in the real world, the core science behind it is pretty basic in what it’s about. It’s all about teaching new things to a group of people, to supplant old learning or ideas, while letting an organization keep basic runtime during the process. That’s what it really is. But of course, simple definitions are one thing, this idea at work in a complex, textured social environment is another matter.

This is where these models come in. They’re philosophies and procedure concepts for how to address the various intricacies that will come up.

#1 – The Lewin Model

Ok, before I describe this one, let me point out that nobody … ok almost nobody … uses the literal Lewin model in modern times. This is the ancient grandfather of all models and theories. Named for Kurt Lewin, a psychologist specializing in sociology, it addresses the main problems of applying change on the human side, which is resistance.

See, people are creatures of habit, and they will grow accustomed to and confident in a status quo. So, when changes to their routine and understanding of something are proposed, some will outright rebel. Others will simply be uncooperative, or apprehensive and non adherent.

This resistance to change is known as freezing, and the undoing of it, unfreezing. Lewin’s model proposed a sequential combatting of this resistance, and upon its yield, training and enforcement of the changes, and then making them permanent.

Lewin’s model is basic, and a lot of people build on it, but few directly use it now.

#2 – McKinsey Model

This one’s hard to talk about so this is going to be super brief. This one doesn’t really have a set of direct rules or steps, but rather just focuses on a homeopathic consideration of various elements of the change, mainly the human side, with logistics taking a back seat.

I don’t know anyone who uses this thing.

#3 – Kotter 8 Step

This is the one most people use, or use a derivation of. It is itself based off of Lewin’s work, but with a richer structure of approach. It proposes similar sequences to the Lewin model, but with more elaboration to it, in a specific order that you can’t skip.

We’ve covered in archived material exactly how this model works, three times, so I won’t keep you with that here. The purpose here was just to cover the three primary change management implementation models in general.

Christopher Smith
Chris is the Lead Author & Editor of Change Blog. Chris established the Change blog to create a source for news and discussion about some of the issues, challenges, news, and ideas relating to Change Management.
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