Friday, July 25, 2014

Advice on Change - Conceptualize and Apply This Effective Change Model!

Author: Bill Davis, MA, CM

Organizations are not static; they are fluid and in a constant state of change. Innovation to create positive growth and successful change is ongoing. Organizations find themselves experiencing endless cycles of change and change continuums where learning and innovation are the norm.  As they learn and grow, past experiences are examined and analyzed; forecasts and economic models are put in place to determine possible futures, and teams are formed as well as ad hoc committees to examine past, present and future situations. 

Change occurs at many levels of the organizations. It occurs at the organizational level, within groups and teams and at individual levels. Creating successful change is the goal, and organizations work to build on the right leadership, strategies, culture, structure and systems. For example, Zappos, a highly successful billion dollar online shoe and clothing retailer knows this well. In the Forbes article, “Tony Hsieh On His Secrets of Success,” CEO Tony Hiseh stated this, “We focus on making sure we have a great service-focused culture. If you get the culture right, then a lot of really amazing things happen on their own.” 
Zappos has leveraged their organizational culture, technology and system applications to become highly successful. More and more organizations today continue to change and capitalize on technology; they take advantage of the many growth opportunities that globalization continues to create. Weiss (2012) tells us this, “Technology is one of the primary drivers and enablers of change. Organizations use infor­mation technologies in their strategies and operations to gain speed, scale, scope, and reach with customers and stakeholders globally” (p.28). 

The three most common types of organizational change are developmental, transitional and transformational (Weiss, 2012). Developmental change is more fine tuning of what already exists and is less stressful. Think of it as a small-scale change that can be used to improve a product, process, procedure. Transitional change can be more intrusive and involves incremental adjustments. It is a larger scale change. This change can be more stressful, involve several departments, people and systems as incremental adjustments are made over time. Obviously this change can take more time to accomplish and may require many adjustments in the culture and possibly unsettle jobs and require retraining. Finally, there is transformational change which is much larger scale change and can involve all the entire organization and its systems and dimensions. This could be a merger, new CEO or top management changes that radical shift the strategy and may change the organizations vision, mission, culture and systems.

Now I would like to share with you a favorite model I have used in teams and organizations I have led that is easy to grasp and apply. It is called Kurt Lewin’s Force-Field Analysis and Resistance to Change model. This model works perfectly for developmental change. Here is an outline I have created of the model to show you how easily it can be applied.     

To motivate people to change requires three basic stages:

I)                   Unfreeze
Review past ways of thinking, feeling and doing.  Unfreeze what you want to change and being the change process. An Important contributor to unfreezing is the performance gap. This is how you begin to motivate organizational members for successful change. 

 The Performance Gap  

o   The difference between actual performance and desired performance.
o   Another performance gap is when performance is good but someone realizes it could be better.
o   As an impetus for change, a performance gap can apply to the organization as a whole. It can also imply to departments, groups and individuals. 
o   It is important to communicate this performance gap to team members.

II)                Moving and Making The Change 

Instituting the Change and managing the change transition. The first step is the vision. A vision can be realized through strategic, structural, cultural and individual change. 

III)             Refreezing

The change has been made. Continue to strengthen the new behaviors that support the change. 

Final Advice – Remember, Successful Change Takes Time

With any change there is a change continuum, which is the amount of time it will take to get from a current state to a desired state. So remember, there will be a transition state to manage and you have to manage that transition. It is possible some ruptures may occur and you may have to rework them back into the culture to get them right. That is normal and part of the process. 

Keep adding value to your organizations and help create successful change by supporting your leadership, strategy, culture, structure and systems to further advance your organization and departments. Grow and learn from understanding the past, present and future and contribute individually and at group and organizational levels. Discover and conceptualize change models like Lewin’s model to help you create successful and sustainable change. I have provided you some diagrams of what change really looks like.  

Reiss, R. (2010). Tony Heish S/B Hsieh   On His Secrets of Success. Retrieved from    interview.html

Mind Tools (n.d.). Lewins Change Management Model. Retrieved             from

Weiss, J. (2012). Organizational change. San Diego: Bridgepoint Education, Inc.

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