What is Change Management 6 Different Approaches

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Change management is a business strategy wherein organizations plan and manage changes within the business environment that directly impact businesses. It helps ensure consistent and timely implementation of new initiatives and processes.

Change management has become an increasingly important part of business strategy in today’s fast-changing business environment. It helps businesses keep up with changing customer needs, new organizations, and the changing market. Change management aims to ensure that organizations can successfully implement changes in the most efficient and effective way.

What is Change Management?

Change management is a system of techniques, methods, and processes that helps an organization manage and successfully implement change initiatives. It involves the development of strategies to anticipate and respond to changes in the business environment, as well as to predict, plan, and influence how people react to those changes.

Change management helps organizations identify, assess, and manage the risks associated with change initiatives. Change management methods are designed to create a smooth transition for stakeholders, employees, customers, and partners as the organization adopt a new or existing change process or system.

Why is Change Management Necessary?

Organizations today face a rapidly evolving market with changing customer needs and preferences. As a result, organizations often need to introduce new technologies, systems, and processes to keep up with the changing business environment.

Change management helps organizations to avoid costly mistakes and to ensure that new initiatives are implemented efficiently and effectively. Additionally, change management helps inform stakeholders and employees about the change process, ensuring that everyone understands the steps and expected outcomes.

6 Change Management Approaches 

A. Kurt Lewin’s Three-Step Model

Kurt Lewin’s three-step model, also known as the Unfreezing-Change-Refreeze model, is a change management process formulated by German-American psychologist and social scientist Kurt Lewin in 1947. This method is based on the belief that change is not an event but a process; therefore, it shouldn’t be imposed but instead should be implemented gradually and in an organized way.

Kurt Lewin's Three-Step Model

1. Unfreezing

This is the first step of the model. Unfreezing is when an individual or organization is prepared to make changes. For example, suppose an organization is currently working under an old process. In that case, the unfreezing process involves being open to questioning why the process has gone unchanged for many years and being prepared to adopt new and improved processes.

2. Change

The second stage is focused on the actual change process and ensuring that the changes stay in place. This could involve introducing new processes, technology, or other necessary changes to achieve the desired goals. For example, an organization looking to become more efficient may implement new technologies to streamline processes and reduce paperwork.

3. Refreezing:

The final step is focused on preserving the changes that have been made. This could mean introducing new systems, such as audits, to ensure that employees follow the new processes correctly. It could also involve training to ensure employees understand their roles and responsibilities. For example, if an organization introduces new technology, it should provide training to ensure that employees know how to use it properly and efficiently.

Overall, Kurt Lewin’s three-step model is an effective tool for making positive and lasting organizational changes. It encourages an organized approach to change and provides a comprehensive framework for preserving the new processes.

B. McKinsey 7-S Model

The McKinsey 7-S Model is a helpful framework for organizational change management that looks at seven factors that need to be incorporated into the organization’s design. It is an analytical framework developed in the 1980s by Tom Peters and Robert Waterman while working at McKinsey & Company. The model looks at 7 different elements of an organization that must align for successful organizational change:

McKinsey 7-S Model

1. Strategy

The organization plans to utilize its resources to meet its objectives. An example of a strategy could be setting a goal to reduce costs and make processes more efficient.

2. Structure:

It defines the organization’s structure, including hierarchies and reporting relationships. An example of a structural change could be streamlining the chain of command from multiple layers to a flat, two-layered system.

3. Systems:

This section focuses on the processes and procedures of an organization, an example of which could be introducing a new data system to improve communication between departments.

4. Staff:

This factor defines who is in the organization and what their roles and responsibilities are. An example of a staff change could be hiring new employees with the skills and qualities needed to help shape the strategy.

5. Shared Values:

The values of an organization define its culture and how it functions. An example could be a shift in the organization’s culture from focusing on individual success to team success.

6. Style:

This factor looks at the leadership and organizational style of the organization. An example of a change in leadership style could be a shift from an autocratic style to a more democratic manner.

7. Skills:

This element looks at the knowledge, abilities, and attitudes needed for the organization to pursue its goals. An example of a change in skills would be training staff on new software or technology.

Overall, the McKinsey 7-S Model is designed to help organizations identify and address any areas of the organization that could cause issues or prevents successful change. The model can be applied in any organization and is particularly useful for larger organizations that need to ensure a successful and efficient transition.

C. Kübler-Ross Change Curve: 

The Kübler-Ross Change Curve is a widely accepted tool in change management. Developed by Elisabeth Kübler-Ross in her book On Death and Dying, it outlines five emotional stages a person goes through when experiencing change. Below are examples of the stages and how they might apply to change management.

Kübler-Ross Change Curve

1. Denial:

A person in this stage may act as if a proposed change, such as a policy or procedure, does not exist or apply to them. For example, an employee may resist a change in the workplace because they “did not hear about it” or ignore a new policy that has been implemented.

2. Anger:

Once the reality of the change begins to sink in, a person may become angry or frustrated with the situation. For example, employees may become angry at their employer for introducing a new system requiring additional work or effort.

3. Bargaining:

In this stage, a person may try to reduce the impact of the change by attempting to bargain or negotiate. For example, an employee may ask their employer to change the new policy to make it more manageable or easier to understand.

4. Depression:

During this stage, a person may become overwhelmed or feel helpless in the face of the change. For example, an employee may become despondent when faced with a challenging goal requiring additional learning or effort.

5. Acceptance:

Finally, once a person accepts the change, they can begin to adapt and move forward. For example, an employee may develop new skills or processes to manage the transition successfully.

D. Kotter’s Eight-Step Model: 

Kotter's Eight-Step Model

1. Establishing a Sense of Urgency:

To begin the change process, it is essential to create a sense of urgency as to why the change needs to happen. This can be achieved by developing a clear and compelling vision or goal for the change. For example, we present convincing evidence that a change is needed to address a stagnant sales process.

2. Forming a Powerful Coalition:

This step involves identifying and assembling a group of influential people with the knowledge, authority, and influence to lead the change. This could be an executive sponsor, a core group of change leaders, or even a larger steering committee. For example, we are assembling a team of experts and stakeholders to create a plan to update an existing marketing strategy.

3. Creating a Vision and Strategy:

During this step, the change team develops a shared vision of success and a strategy to achieve it. This should include detailed plans, objectives, timelines, and budgets. For example, we are developing a clear roadmap to redesign a company’s communication infrastructure.

4. Communicating the Vision:

After establishing the vision and strategy, it is essential to ensure everyone understands the goal and plan. This could include creating marketing materials and hosting meetings to educate and inspire employees. For example, sharing a new mission statement and training on making it a reality.

5. Empowering Broad-Based Action:

This step involves giving employees the resources and authority to act quickly and effectively on the change plan. This could include creating task forces, setting up feedback loops, and providing ongoing training and support. For example, providing employees with different tools and technology to help them implement the new strategy.

6. Generating Short-Term Wins:

It is essential to focus on smaller successes that can be achieved quickly and provide motivation for making longer-term changes. For example, setting goals for increased customer satisfaction or setting targets for selling more products.

7. Never Letting Up:

Even after the early wins, keeping the momentum going with continued monitoring and feedback is essential. This could include keeping the change team involved and engaged, gathering data to track progress, and maintaining a clear focus on the goals of the change effort. For example, conducting regular check-ins with the team to track progress against objectives and ensuring high-performing areas are not forgotten.

8. Incorporating Changes Into the Culture:

The final step is to ensure that the changes become part of the culture so they can be sustained over the long term. This could include increasing recognition and rewards for employees who adopt and apply the changes, creating incentives to keep people motivated, and ensuring that the changes are integrated into daily operations. For example, establishing programs and policies make it easy for employees to adopt the new processes.

E. ADKAR Model:

The ADKAR model of change management is an individual-focused model of change that can be used to help guide and support individuals in transitioning through change. Developed by Prosci, it stands for Awareness, Desire, Knowledge, Ability, and Reinforcement.


1. Awareness: 

Organizations must first create awareness of why the change is needed and provide a general understanding of what is involved. This can be done through various communications, such as videos, presentations, and emails. An example of this is introducing a new software system and training employees on how to use it.

2. Desire: 

The next step is creating a shared understanding, commitment, and willingness to change. This is done by promoting the benefits, removing potential blockers, and selling the need for change. An example of this is encouraging employees to adopt a new safety procedure by highlighting the potential safety benefits to the organization and their safety.

3. Knowledge: 

People must then understand what they need to do differently to make the change successfully. This includes understanding the change process and any new skills or behaviors that need to be acquired. An example would be providing step-by-step instructions on how to use the new software system and workshops and guides for employees to understand why the change was necessary and how the transition will look in the organization.

4. Ability: 

Once understanding the knowledge, organizations must then build and reinforce the ability to implement the practice. This can be done through resources and tools, approach and support from a team, and coaching and feedback. An example is providing a hands-on training session demonstrating how to use the new software and allowing employees to practice and ask questions.

5. Reinforcement: 

Finally, successful change requires sustained effort. This is done through ongoing recognition, rewards, feedback, and coaching to reinforce new behaviors and practices. An example of this is providing incentives or bonuses for employees who have successfully adapted to the new system and providing ongoing feedback to ensure everyone remains on track.

Overall, the ADKAR model is a helpful framework for organizations to use to ensure successful and sustainable change. By focusing on each individual’s needs throughout the process, organizations can prove that they are considering various factors to ensure successful outcomes.

F. Bridge’s Transition Model: 

Bridge’s Transition Model of change management is a framework that can be used to oversee the processes of organizational transition. It helps to understand different elements that must be considered when managing change. Transition management expert William Bridges developed this model. The three key elements of Bridges’ transition model are Endings, Neutral Zone, and New Beginnings.

Bridge's Transition Model

1. Endings: 

This is the first step of transition and the most difficult. Recognizing and accepting the endings, as they may be seen as losses, is essential. Thus, it is necessary to acknowledge the feelings associated with them. Some examples include downsizing, a branch or office closure, and changes to policies or procedures.

2. Neutral Zone: 

This is the transition period between the old and the new. It can be a disorienting and uncomfortable stage that requires resilience and adaptability. It’s essential to take a step back and acknowledge the confusion and lack of understanding related to this stage. To move forward, we must look at the situation objectively and accept that the new state is not yet established.

3. New Beginnings: 

This is the final stage of transition, in which unfamiliar activities, ideas, and tools replace the old ones. It is essential to recognize the progress made and appreciate the energy, progress, and movement toward the new. Some examples include introducing a new software system, implementing a new team structure, or integrating new technology into the workplace.

Overall, Bridges’ Transition Model of change management is a valuable tool for helping to navigate organizational change. It emphasizes the importance of recognizing the need to let go of the old and embrace the unfamiliar. Furthermore, it highlights the significance of open communication, resilience, and adaptation throughout the change process.

Benefits of Change Management

Change management has numerous benefits for an organization.

1. Improved customer satisfaction:

Change management provides a structured process for addressing customer needs, which can improve customer satisfaction by ensuring that changes are implemented to meet customer expectations.

2. Increased efficiency:

Change management can help streamline processes and reduce redundancies, leading to greater efficiency in the workplace.

3. Reduced costs:

An effective change management process can help reduce costs associated with implementing changes by reducing the risk of failure and ensuring that changes are implemented cost-effectively.

4. Improved communication:

Change management helps ensure that all stakeholders are kept informed throughout the process, which can reduce the chance of misunderstandings and help ensure that changes are implemented successfully.

5. Improved morale:

A well-managed change process can help reduce fear and resistance to change among employees, leading to improved confidence and a more positive work environment.

6. Improved risk management:

Change management helps identify potential risks and develop strategies to mitigate them, reducing the chance of costly mistakes and delays.

7. Enhanced collaboration:

Change management encourages collaboration between stakeholders, helping ensure that all perspectives are considered before making a decision.

8. Improved decision-making:

Change management helps ensure that decisions are based on facts and data rather than assumptions or guesswork.

9. Improved organizational culture:

Change management can help create a culture of continuous improvement and innovation, leading to tremendous success in the long term.

10. Improved ability to adapt:

Change management helps organizations stay agile and adapt quickly to changing market conditions, ensuring they remain competitive.


Change management helps organizations stay competitive in today’s ever-evolving business environment and can result in improved efficiency, effectiveness, and customer satisfaction. Change management helps organizations identify and manage risks associated with change initiatives and ensures that those initiatives result in the most efficient and effective outcomes. By relying on data-driven strategies, organizations can introduce changes smoothly and anticipate how stakeholders will respond.