Approaches to Managing Organizational Change

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INTERNATIONAL JOURNAL OF SCHOLARLY ACADEMIC INTELLECTUAL DIVERSITY VOLUME 12, NUMBER 1, 2010

Approaches to Managing Organizational Change

Fred C. Lunenburg
Sam Houston State University ________________________________________________________________________ ABSTRACT Much has been written about the nature of change and the best methods to manage it. Based on the research, we now have a better understanding of the steps that must be taken to ensure that change efforts have a significant and lasting impact. In this article, I discuss some of the most well known and popular models of the change process. ________________________________________________________________________

After years of failed change efforts, researchers are saying that knowledge of the change process is crucial. To succeed we need to cognize what we know about successful change before and during the change process. To this end, I will examine five of the most well known and popular models of the change process: Lewin’s three-step change model, Kotter’s eight-step plan, Harris’s five-phase model, Fullan’s change themes set, and Greiner’s six-phase process. Lewin’s Three-Step Change Model Change involves a sequence of organizational processes that occurs over time. Lewin (1951) suggests this process typically requires three steps: unfreezing, moving, and refreezing (see Figure 1).

Unfreezing

Moving

Refreezing

Figure 1. Lewin’s Three-Step Change Model.

1

INTERNATIONAL JOURNAL OF SCHOLARLY ACADEMIC INTELLECTUAL DIVERSITY 2____________________________________________________________________________________

This step usually means reducing the forces acting to keep the organization in its current condition. Unfreezing might be accomplished by introducing new information that points out inadequacies in the current state or by decreasing the strength of current values, attitudes, and behaviors. Crises often stimulate unfreezing. Examples of crises are demographic shifts in population, a sudden increase in employee turnover, a costly lawsuit, and an unexpected strike. Unfreezing may occur without crises as well. Climate surveys, financial data, and enrollment projections can be used to determine problem areas in an organization and initiate change to alleviate problems before crises erupt. Moving Once the organization is unfrozen, it can be changed by moving. This step usually involves the development of new values, attitudes, and behaviors through internalization, identification, or change in structure. Some changes may be minor and involve a few members—such as changes in recruitment and selection procedures—and others may be major, involving many participants. Examples of the latter include a new evaluation system, restructuring of jobs and duties performed by staff, or restructuring a department or entire organization, which necessitates relocating staff to different sites within the organization. Refreezing The final step in the change process involves stabilizing the change at a new quasi-stationary equilibrium, which is called refreezing. Changes in organizational culture, changes in staff norms, changes in organization policy, or modifications in organizational structure often accomplish this. Kotter’s Eight-Step Plan Building on Lewin’s three-step change model, John Kotter (1996) of Harvard University developed a more detailed approach for managing change. Kotter began by listing common errors that leaders make when attempting to initiate change. These included the inability to create a sense of urgency about the need for change, failure to create a coalition for managing the change process, the absence of a vision for change, failure to effectively communicate that vision, failure to remove obstacles that could impede the achievement of the vision, failure to provide short-term achievable goals, the tendency to declare victory too soon, and failure to anchor the changes into the organization’s culture. Based on these errors,...
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