Change Management WalkMe TeamUpdated August 5, 2021

6 of the Best Change Management Frameworks

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6 of the Best Change Management Frameworks

Change management frameworks are practically a requirement for any organization undergoing change.

Choosing the right framework is vital for success, whether that change is digital, cultural, or organizational.

A systematic approach to change management prevents many problems before they start.

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It also offers a method for dealing with and minimizing the impact of problems that do arise.

Benefits of change management frameworks include:

  • Increased chances of successful change
  • Lower resistance from employees
  • Staff that are more motivated and productive
  • Decreased budgets and faster change implementation

The list goes on.

So What Is a Change Management Framework?

Change management is the process of managing organizational shifts, transitions, transformations, and changes.

As with any other business function, it is a process that needs to be systematized in order to be effective.

A framework does just that — it provides a systematic approach to managing change.

When combined with other change management tools and techniques, frameworks drastically increase the chances of success.

For decades, various business leaders have developed frameworks and processes that they use to effect organizational change.

Some are simple, some are complex.

Some are people-focused, some are process-focused.

Each framework has its strengths. And some are more appropriate than others for a given situation.

This list covers the most popular frameworks “on the market,” in no particular order.


ADKAR is one of the most well-known and widely-known frameworks, created by the founder of Prosci, Jeff Hiatt.

It advocates a bottom-up approach that begins with the individual employee and ends with organizational change.

The acronym stands for:

  • Awareness of the need for change
  • Desire to support the change
  • Knowledge of how to change
  • Ability to demonstrate skills and behavior
  • Reinforcement to make the change stick

This model is well-established and has a track record of success.

For more details, read some of our articles about the ADKAR model.

2. Lewin

The Lewin model was developed in the middle of the last century by Kurt Lewin, a physicist and social scientist.

It follows a 3-step process:

  • Unfreeze existing perceptions and processes
  • Change those processes and perceptions with training, education, and new processes
  • Refreeze the new way of doing things

This approach is simpler than most of the other models mentioned here, but it is still trusted by many companies today.

3. McKinsey 7-S

McKinsey’s 7-S model is designed to help a company understand its current business structure, what needs to change, and why.

McKinsey-7S-Model-for-OD (1)

Infographic source:  springpeople

Using this model, change leaders would analyze their current business by asking questions that revolve around the “7 S’s”:

  • Strategy
  • Structure
  • Systems
  • Shared Values
  • Style
  • Staff
  • Skills

For businesses that know they need to change — but don’t know how they should change — this tool can be useful.

4. The Kübler-Ross Model

The Kübler-Ross change curve is based on human psychology.

More specifically, it is based on the 5 stages of human grief, developed by Elisabeth Kübler-Ross.

In recent years, this model has been applied to change management.

Since the model follows human reaction to loss and change, it has also been successfully used to understand how employees react to business changes.

The 5 stages of the Kübler-Ross model are:

  • Shock or denial
  • Anger
  • Bargaining
  • Depression
  • Acceptance

This model is not a framework for effecting change, but it can be useful for understanding employee reactions.

5. Satir Change Management Model

Like the Kübler-Ross model, the Satir Change Model also follows 5 stages.

However, these stages focus on output and productivity instead of the emotions related to loss.

Its 5 stages center on how a group reacts to change. They are:

  • Late Status Quo – The stage prior to change
  • Resistance – The reaction to the introduction of a foreign element
  • Chaos – After the foreign element, confusion results from the new rules and expectations
  • Integration – A “transforming idea” helps group members see the benefits of the new dynamic
  • New Status Quo – A new normal results when the change is complete

Like the previous model, the Satir model can help companies predict, understand, and adapt to employee reactions.

6. William Bridges’ Transition Model

This model also maps out the productivity drop that occurs when people transition to a new way of doing things.

The model distinguishes between change and transition.

Change, according to the model, is when outer circumstances change, such as organizational change.

Transition refers to the inner psychological process that people go through when responding to that change.

There are 3 stages in this model:

  • Ending – First, people must manage the loss of the old — team members, processes, ways of thinking, and so forth
  • Neutral Zone – Second, people have yet to fully transition to the new, — they are still forming new relationships, assimilating new approaches, and building new identities
  • New Beginnings – Finally, people begin to establish their new identity and understand their place in the new order

This model is also a useful framework for understanding group dynamics and group psychology.

Final Thoughts

These 6 change management models are well-established.

From digital transformation to organizational transformation, these frameworks can be used to streamline change, decrease employee resistance, and the chances of success.

Whether you use one of these frameworks or create your own, anyone who wants to be an effective change leader must be familiar with these basic models.

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