Kotter's 6 Steps in Change Management

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“It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent that survives. It is the one that is the most adaptable to change.” Charles Darwin (1802-1882) English naturalist & author of the theory of evolution by natural selection

In this world, changes happen at an accelerating pace to individuals and organisations. The continual survival and success of organisations will depend on how adept their leaders are in recognising the need for change and to implement change within the organisation. Therefore organisational change refers to understanding the alterations within organisation at the broadest level among individuals, groups and at a collective level across the entire organisation.

Almost all people are nervous and resistant about change. Many will fear of the negative impact that will be brought about by change. How do leaders of organisations implement change within their organisations to ensure efficient delivery of the change and enthusiastic support for its results?

There are many theorists who developed change management. One of the earlier theorists is Kurt Lewin. Kurt Lewin emigrated from Germany to America. He is recognised as the "father of social psychology" that is why he is known for his interest in the human aspect of change. Kurt Lewin based his theory on 3 stage of change. They are ‘unfreeze’, ‘change’ and ‘freeze’. Although his theory is criticised as too simplistic however his 3 stage change model is still relevant in today’s world.

The unfreezing stage is one of the most important stages in this world of changes. What it means is simply to get ready before the change. Unfreeze and get motivated for the change is to weigh the pros and cons of the change. People are accustomed to the way things are, in order to initiate a change, there must be some form of positive motivation. ‘Force Field Analysis’ is therefore used to elaborate the unfreezing stage. ‘Driving Forces’ are positive forces for change and ‘Restraining Forces’ are negative forces or obstacles for change. Before a change is made, the force field is in equilibrium between the two forces. For a change to occur, the equilibrium has to be upset by either of the two forces. Kurt Lewin proposes whenever the ‘Driving Forces’ are greater, the equilibrium will change. People are always motivated for change when ‘Driving Forces’ is greater than the ‘Restraining Forces’. In order to bring about a successful change, the ‘Driving Forces’ have to be reinforced and the ‘Restraining Forces’ have to be undermined.

The change stage is the hardest stage. This stage involves moving people away from their accustomed ways to another new and unfamiliar ways. When faced with uncertainties and unfamiliarity, people are fearful of change and will be reluctant to make the change. By allowing ample time for learning and understanding, coupled with proper support and communications, the fear factor will slowly diminished. In addition to that, constant communications will reinforce the direction of change where the organisation will be leading to. The freezing stage refers to maintaining the changes that had already been made. This means crystallizing the mindset about the change and establishing the change as a new habit. This stage might not be relevant in today’s world where change occurs at a phenomenon speed.

The late 2000’s financial crisis was triggered off by the subprime mortgage crisis which occurred in the United States of America. This resulted in companies like Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to be put under conservatorship by the federal government. Federal Reserve bailed out for American International Group and the largest bankruptcy of Lehman Brothers etc. This financial crisis had a ripple effect on the economy in Singapore. Singapore, being one of the world’s leading financial centres, was hit hard by this financial crisis. The resulted in massive retrenchment in the financial...
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