Using the Kurt Lewin Change Management Model

Kurt Lewin Change Management Model was a landmark model that explained organisational change and was developed long back in the 1950s by Kurt Lewin, a physicist as well as a social scientist. The postulates of his model hold true even today. Popularly known as Unfreeze-Change-Refreeze after the three stages that the model suggests, this model has benefited many organisations across the world.

The Stages of the Kurt Lewin Change Management Model

Stage 1: Unfreezing

This is the most important stage to understand and implement. This stage begins the process of change and involves getting ready for it. It is about understanding the fact that change is necessary and agreeing to move away from our comfort zone.

Stage 2: Change or Transition

Kurt Lewin knew that change is not a single event but an entire process called transition. More specifically, transition is the inner movement that we make as a response to the change. It is only after unfreezing that you can expect to change the shape of a block of ice. The inertia within people makes this stage the most fearful and difficult one.

Stage 3: Refreezing

The name is quite suggestive of what this stage is all about. It involves establishing the changed identity. The stage is about accepting the changes that have become norms. During this stage, people create new relationships and become attuned to their changed routine.

Practical steps for using the three stages of Kurt Lewin Change Management Model:

Unfreeze

1. Understand the need for change and identify what needs to be changed by surveying the organisation and understanding the present state of affairs.

2. Make sure the upper management approves the change in principle. Analyse stakeholders to identify their stand and win their support. Project the change as an issue of importance for the organisation. Generate a compelling message that will make the higher ups realise the importance of that change.

3. Be ready to understand the concerns of the employees which generate from the change that you are about to bring and try to address them.

Transition or Change

1. Make sure you communicate enough during the planning and implementation stage. Explain the benefits of change to people who are going to be affected by it. This way you will prepare everyone for what is going to come their way.

2. Rumors are bound to spread once the news of an anticipated change becomes public. Try and dispel as many rumors as possible and answer the questions of people who are going to be affected by the change honestly. Try to again relate the need for change with the betterment of the organisation.

3. Give ample opportunities to employees to involve themselves in the process of change. Employ managers to provide day to say direction and guide people through the process.

4. Institute small rewards for people who involve themselves in the process of change.

Refreeze

1. Make the change a part of the culture and acknowledge all that supports the change. Also identify all that did not support the change so as to be able to overcome those deterrents in future.

2. Try to develop ways and means to sustain the changes. You can do this by creating a reward system and ensuring high standards of leadership. Feedbacks are another good way of sustaining change.

3. Finally, celebrate success and let everyone know that you and your organisation have changed for good.

It shall not be an overstatement to say that Kurt Lewin’s model is an easy and simple to understand model to implement the change you wish to see. The process begins with creating a motivation to change and then goes through the change itself. The process ends when your organisation returns to a sense of stability.

The fact that the world is changing at a rapid pace necessitates that the organisations also change at an equally fast pace. Lot of businesses and organizations that have implemented Kurt Lewin Change Management Model are doing well while the ones who resist change are struggling to survive.

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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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