Managing Change in Organizations

Managing Change in Organizations

Welcome to our page on change management.

For organizational development to be effective, change needs to be managed. Many organizational focus on the project management aspects of change. While this is an important factor – it is not the critical factor. People are.

Often when undertaking change processes in organizations we focus on the process, the project management. Often when change fails it fails because we have not taken into account the impact change has on the individuals concerned from a psychological perspective.

Not all people react in a negative way and change agents must take this into account when using any of the psychological based change models.

Some Change Models

personal change modelKubler Ross change curveChange Management iceberg model

Change management continuumManaging multiple change modelChange magnitude breadth model

Change equation beckertSchamner Change model - loopsChange Area model

Change quadrant Managing successful change modelChange curve - loops

Kubler-ross Change curve - loops

To see more of these models visit

Habits and the impact on Change
As people we learn habits. Habits are formed when we do repetitive tasks, they are formed to help us cope with the wide variety of data (information) presented to us on a daily basis. It is too much to cope with at a conscious level. To cope with the variety over time we form habits. These habits may be simple routines like the order we get dressed in the mornings, the first few minutes in the work place – coffee, tea etc. It may even be the order in which we talk to people. When this structure or order is changed – it impacts us in many ways. It is often the simple changes to routines like this that cause individuals them most problems. It is not the fact that a desk may be now facing a different direction or on another floor in the building that is the issue – it is the break in the pattern that has been enforced on an individual. It is the little things that take time to resolve. As humans we can often deal with the big changes easily – it is the little things that cause us more difficulty! When change is ‘imposed’ on people, that is they feel they have little ownership in the decision, they often feel out of control. As organizational development or change agents we need to help this process.

Please note that as humans we all have a choice – we can engage with the change or we can leave. As Organisational Development professionals we need to recognize this as a legitimate strategy.

We cannot and should not force change on people, our role should be to enable change and to encourage people to make a choice or decision.

The models shown on this page can help individuals recognize that what they are experiencing is ‘normal’ and that this is often a process that they need to go through. Some people will go through the process quickly – others more slowly.

Many Change Models

There are many change models, the most common one is the Kubler Ross transition (grief) cycle. Originally titled ‘The 5 Stages of Receiving Catastrophic News’ these stages are:

  • Denial
  • Anger
  • Bargaining
  • Depression
  • Acceptance

As an example, apply the 5 stages to a traumatic event most all of us have experienced:

The Dead Battery!

You’re going to be late to work so you rush out to your car, place the key in the ignition and turn it on. You hear nothing; the battery is dead.
Denial – What’s the first thing you do? You try to start it again! And again. You may check to make sure the radio, heater, lights, etc. are off and then…, try again.
Anger – !$%&*@~$! car!, I should have junked you years ago. Did you slam your hand on the steering wheel?
Bargaining – (realizing that you’re going to be late for work)…, Oh please car, if you will just start one more time I promise I’ll buy you a brand new battery, get a tune up, new tires, clean you, and keep you in perfect working condition.
Depression – Oh God, what am I going to do. I’m going to be late for work. I give up. My job is at risk and I don’t really care any more. What’s the use.
Acceptance – Ok. It’s dead. Guess I had better call the breakdown service or find another way to work. Time to get on with things; I’ll deal with this later.This is not a trivial example. In fact, we all go through this process numerous times a day. A dead battery, the loss of a parking space, a wrong number, the loss of a pet, a job, a move to another city, an overdrawn bank account, etc.

Most write ups of this model in recent years has focused on grief, while this is great for doctors and councilors, it is not helpful in business.In business I have found that while this is a valuable model, staff and managers find it ‘difficult’ to understand, so I use a simplified version:

  • Denial
  • Resistance
  • Exploration
  • Acceptance/ Commitment

The graphical version is listed below. I occasionally change the last one from acceptance to commitment depending on the ‘depth’ of change. I let the ‘users’ of the model create their own words. When they own the model they are more likely to use it.

Personal Change Model
Encouraging people to create their own labels for each of the four stages helps them to own the model. If they own the model they are more likely to use it.Remind them that these types of reactions to change are common. In fact we all react like this to a greater or lesser extent. It is normal. Understanding the fact that they are/ might be having an emotional reaction to a logical proposal is a big step for many people. Some times we will go through the stages quickly, other times more slowly. Sometimes we may be going through several change processes at one time, so will be in different places on the curve depending on the change. Often at the same time!

Other change management models include:
The ADKAR model for individual change management was developed by Prosci. This model describes five required building blocks for change to be realized successfully on an individual level. The building blocks of the ADKAR Model include:

  • Awareness – of why the change is needed
  • Desire – to support and participate in the change
  • Knowledge – of how to change
  • Ability – to implement new skills and behaviors
  • Reinforcement – to sustain the change

John Kotter has set out an eight-step strategy:

  1. Establish a sense of urgency.
  2. Create the guiding coalition.
  3. Develop a vision and strategy.
  4. Communicate the change vision.
  5. Empower employees for broad-based action.
  6. Generate short-term wins.
  7. Consolidate gains and produce more change.
  8. Anchor new approaches in the culture.

If you would like any more information on the use of the model or how we have integrated it into our organizational and culture change products please contact us or visit our diagnostics page.

Other change models and adaptations
There are many ways of graphically representing a ‘change curve’. below are a few variations.
When working with individuals and teams undergoing change, it is not the actual model used that is important, but that the individuals see it is relevant to them. The best change facilitators use the one which best matches the culture of the organization they are working with.

If you would like any more information on the use of the model or how we have integrated it into our organizational and culture change products please contact us or visit our diagnostics page.

Please note the models here are provided for educational purposes only. No copyright is assumed. © Mike Morrison, RapidBI 2007-2012

Management and Leadership development are importent to you and of course to the team here at RapidBI. We hope you find this information valuable, if you do please tweet or facebook like this page. Thanks

Check Out Mike Morrison's Book on Organizational Development - Theory and Practice, for tools and tips on developing organizations, managers and leaders on Amazon and Kindle

Read more management articles from the team



Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...
About Mike Morrison

Mike Morrison is a consultant and change agent specialising in developing skills in senior people to increase organizational performance.
Mike is also founder & director of RapidBI, an organizational effectiveness consultancy.


  1. Selected post from @rapidbi site-

  2. Useful-Historical article from my blog-

  3. Managing Change in Organizations

  4. RT@rapidbi Managing Change in Organizations: Welcome to our page on change management. For organizational develo…

  5. New Blog post: Managing Change in Organizations

  6. RT: @rapidbi Managing Change in Organizations: Welcome to our page on change management. For organizational deve…

  7. New Blog post: Managing Change in Organizations

  8. New Blog post: Managing Change in Organizations

  9. New Blog post: Managing Change in Organizations

  10. MAEducation says:

    Managing Change in Organizations –

  11. Gemma Tovey says:

    Managing Change in Organizations –

  12. Karen Hanna says:

    Managing Change in Organizations –

  13. Managing Change in Organizations –

  14. Managing Change in Organizations

  15. Managing Change in Organizations

  16. Managing Change in Organizations –

  17. Managing Change in Organizations –

  18. RT @thehrbuzz: Managing Change in Organizations –

  19. Managing Change in Organizations – #article

  20. Managing Change in Organizations – #article