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Lewin's Change Management Model

Framework Author and Development Antecedents

Lewin’s change management model was developed by the famous psychologist Kurt Lewin who was one of the first scholars exploring group dynamics in the organisational setting (Immordino, 2017). This notorious author is frequently referred to as the pioneer of social psychology who used applied and action research to create highly practical methods for resolving the challenges faced by individuals and organisations. The unique dynamic view of social and business processes developed upon these experiences informed the creation of such frameworks as the Lewin’s force field analysis and Lewin’s change management model.

 

Three Steps of the Change Process

The studied model shown in the following figure is composed of three primary stages called unfreezing, change, and refreezing. All constituent activities are initiated and supervised by the company management in a top-down manner.

Figure 1: Lewin's Change Management Model

Source: Caglar (2019, p.390)

 

1. Unfreezing

The first phase may be the most difficult one in terms of disrupting the existing status quo and convincing most employees that the proposed transformation is really necessary (Burnes and Bargal, 2017). This objective may be especially challenging when the company does not experience any major performance issues and the need for change is only realised by the top managers recognising its increasing strategic limitations. According to Lewin, existing staff resistance can be reduced through effective leadership, quality communication, and the elimination of the forces supporting the current status quo. All of these tactics were flawlessly utilised by Satya Nadella of Microsoft when they became a new company CEO after 20+ years of working with this organisation. The famous 3,187-word memo outlining the new change perspective was sent to all staff members and received extremely positive reactions despite some announced layoffs and reorganisations.

 

2. Change

As soon as the old values, structures, and expectations have been discarded, people need a new course to maintain the initially created momentum (Randall et al., 2018). This is where many managers fall short of their expectations due to the lack of a clear change vision or the inability to adjust to the emerging hindrances. Communication and leadership remain some of the most critical factors during this phase. The increasing state of uncertainty may be highly threatening to some staff members and can convince them to leave the organisation. Marissa Meyer is a notorious example of a manager failing to complete the change phase. This newly appointed CEO managed to completely ruin the organisational transformation of Yahoo while having a high level of initial trust from company workers. Major initial changes such as the ban of remote working arrangements were not followed by a clear plan of consistent structural transformation. This resulted in the loss of momentum and created a growing sense of employee dissatisfaction with the harsh unfreezing steps.

 

3. Refreezing

Finally, new values, structures, and procedures need to be solidified and formalised (Jabri, 2017). This refreezing phase is especially important to cease the aforementioned negative feelings of fear and uncertainty that are inevitable during the ‘change’ phase. In this aspect, any organisation undergoing a complex transition should set specific, measurable, actionable, realistic, and time-bound (SMART) goals giving the employees a clear sense of ‘where are they now’. The solidification of new norms is also beneficial from the recruitment standpoint since new staff members can be introduced to a finalised set of cultural provisions and company values.

 

Applying Lewin’s Change Management Model in Academic Works

The practical application of Lewin’s change management model in reports and dissertations can be generally subdivided into two main scenarios. In the first one, you will be asked to analyse a past organisational transformation on the basis of a case study. In the second scenario, you will need to propose a new change plan for an existing or hypothetical organisation. Below, you can find some suggestions on how to excel at both of these tasks.

 

1. Analysing a Past Change

Unfreeze

  • Identify the change leader(s).
  • Explore their background, reputation, and key competencies.
  • Analyse the main organisational deficiencies that had to be eliminated.
  • Appraise how the need for change was communicated to the employees.

 

Change

  • Analyse if the change leader(s) had a clear vision and plan for the suggested transformation.
  • Explore how communication was used to build and retain a guiding coalition.
  • Evaluate how the management responded to staff dissatisfaction or doubts.
  • Think about the improvements that could be introduced to the eventually realised change plan.

 

Refreeze

  • Identify what incentives were offered by the organisation to promote new behaviours and prevent the re-emergence of the past ones.
  • Find out what indicators were used to measure the achievement of the set SMART goals.
  • Explore how the new norms were recorded in applicable corporate codes and announced to the general
  • Appraise how the changes were reflected in training and orientation practices for new recruits.

 

2. Proposing a Future Change Plan

Unfreeze

  • Develop the change vision and first steps.
  • Identify existing organisational resources.
  • Select the members of a guiding coalition.
  • Find out how you can establish communication with employees.

 

Change

  • Introduce SMART goals with regular performance appraisals.
  • Suggest several alternative scenarios for promptly responding to any emerging challenges.
  • Develop a coherent information flow scheme for maintaining communication with employees and managers.
  • Identify which persons should be continuously informed about intermediary change results.

 

Refreeze

  • Identify how new behaviours should be promoted.
  • List all changes you would propose within the scope of training and development procedures.
  • Suggest the mechanisms of managerial supervision in the short-term perspective.
  • Explain how the transformation results will be evaluated within the scope of the earlier formulated SMART goals.

 

How We Can Help with Running a Strategic Analysis Based on Lewin's Change Model

A practical application of management models may become a challenging task, and Lewin’s change management model is no exception. You need to thoroughly understand the selected organisation in terms of its key problems and strategic limitations to effectively analyse its past changes or suggest future ones (Hussain et al., 2018). If you require a new perspective on your studied case, our expert academic writers are always ready to assist you with the development of Lewin’s change management model for your essay, report or dissertation. Check a sample essay where Lewin’s change management model was successfully used by one of our authors and don’t hesitate to contact us if you need help.

 

References

Burnes, B. and Bargal, D. (2017) “Kurt Lewin: 70 Years on”, Journal of Change Management, 17 (2), pp. 91-100.

Caglar, D. (2019) Handbook of Research on Contemporary Approaches in Management and Organizational Strategy, Hershey: IGI Global.

Hussain, S., Lei, S., Akram, T., Haider, M., Hussain, H. and Ali, M. (2018) “Kurt Lewin's change model: A critical review of the role of leadership and employee involvement in organizational change”, Journal of Innovation & Knowledge (JIK), 3 (3), pp. 123-127.

Immordino, K. (2017) Organizational Assessment and Improvement in the Public Sector Workbook, London: CRC Press.

Jabri, M. (2017) Managing Organizational Change: Process, Social Construction and Dialogue, London: Macmillan International.

Randall, J., Burnes, B. and Sim, A. (2018) Management Consultancy: The Role of the Change Agent, London: Macmillan International.