Change Management Models

Someone wise once said all models are wrong, some models are useful. If we apply this to change management models the idea is the same.

Models of change management are useful in that they describe and simplify a process so that most of us can grasp what's going on.

At the end of the day the reality is that change models are created by people. None of them describe a perfect change process. So why should I use them? I'm glad you asked!

Think about it. If change always followed an exact pattern, if it was always predictable, there wouldn't be any need for you to be here right now!

Change is not predictable, it does not follow the exact steps change management models suggest. So, explore these models of change management. Your job is to find the bits that are useful to you. Allow yourself a lot of flexibility when following a model rather than following any model too rigidly.

At a personal and organizational level the change management models we choose are motivated by the way we approach change. There is no right or wrong. The way you go about implementing change will differ depending on the model you use, but there are basic steps that are essential to follow that are common to personal or organisational change.

Kurt Lewin

Kurt Lewin's Unfreeze-Change-Refreeze model is often referred to because it's been around a long time. It's also inspired many similar 3-step change management models that are really a spin on the Lewin model. The Lewin model is a great place to start!

Lewin's force field analysis integrates with the three stage theory of change. The force field analysis is a great tool to motivate people towards change and understand resistance.

Take your knowledge of the Kurt Lewin model further with a full explanation of the force field analysis and free application tool to download.

Kubler-Ross: Stages of Change

Elizabeth Kubler-Ross is well known for her writing about death and dying. The stages of grief that Kubler-Ross describes are usefully applied to understanding change, especially the normal range of feelings people work through on an individual level or in the workplace.

When I show this to people I find they are relieved to identify where they are at regarding change. But they most enjoy being able to identify and understand how other people are dealing with change. They immediately get a better sense of their own behaviour, or why colleagues are behaving in a particular way.

Stephen Covey: 7 Habits Model

Stephen Covey provides a model in The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People that applies to our personal and working lives. Applying the lessons of the seven habits will help you effectively deal with change. Covey's Seven Habits model is an inspiring sequential change management process that challenges us to examine our values and the way we react to change in our lives.

Here's all the information you need about the seven habits in The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People.

In 1998 Sean Covey published The 7 Habits of Highly Effective Teens effectively making the seven habits model more accessible and proving that a solid model for managing change in life can be presented in a fun and highly readable format.


The ADKAR model is frequently used in organisations. A practical change management model that is simple to learn, makes sense, and focuses on the actions and outcomes required for change.

This is not a complete list of change management models, but it is a comprehensive overview of many of the popular and tested models.

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