Change Implementation Models Essay

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Kotter's and Lewin's models and discusses their roles as diagnostic tools and as implementation agents. It is the nature of organizations to face constant change, whether the source comes from competitive pressures, new opportunities, technological advances or new initiatives and so forth. Both models offer a methodology for effectively managing change.

Kotter's 8-Step Change Model

Change management models help organizations to effect change in a systematic manner while avoiding some of the pitfalls associated with organizational change development. According to John Kotter, organizations frequently make the same mistakes when they try to bring about change; they allow too much complacency or they fail to communicate and so forth (Reynolds, 2009).

Kotter's 8-step change model has been shown to be a powerful and successful method for implementing change. The purpose of Kotter's model is to efficiently and effectively achieve change management. People respond better to change when they are actively involved in its planning and implementation. For many, change can be unsettling and demanding. By creating a structured methodology surrounding change, the chances for successful change are enhanced.

Each stage of Kotter's model refers to a key principle that Kotter identified that describes how people relate and respond to change. The components of Kotter's model comprise eight steps which describe key activities in the change management process. According to Kotter, the process begins with creating a sense of urgency. In order for change to take place, the entire organization must be behind the change and believe in it. It is necessary to inspire people to move, to make objectives real and relevant to them (Chapman, 2010).

The next step requires forming a change coalition, by identifying the leaders in an organization and obtaining an emotional commitment from them. This stage of change management focuses on getting the right people in place with the correct emotional commitment, as well as the correct mix of skills and skill levels (Chapman, 2010).

The third step of Kotter's model involves creating a vision for change so that people can understand why they're being asked to do something. This step also involves creating a strategy for executing that vision and is closely aligned with crafting a vision statement. Getting the vision right requires that the team set up a vision and strategy, and that they focus on the creative and emotional aspects that are needed to promote service and efficiency (Chapman, 2010).

Step four involves communicating the vision, which includes candidly addressing people's concerns. The purpose of this communication is to achieve buy-in, involving as many people as possible, communicating the essentials while appealing to people and responding to their needs. Step five consists of removing obstacles in order to empower people to be able to execute the vision. This step also entails enabling constructive feedback and support from leaders, as well as rewarding and recognizing progress and achievements. Step six requires creating short-term wins to motivate the team by giving them a taste of success. Kotter recommends setting aims that are easy to achieve and doing it in bite-size chunks, with a manageable number of initiatives; likewise he recommends finishing current stages before starting new ones (Chapman, 2010).

Step seven involves building on the change. Following each win, it is important to analyze what went right as well as what went wrong. Also important in this phase is encouraging determination and persistence, as well as ongoing change and progress reporting. The final step consists of anchoring the changes in corporate culture, and making sure that the change sticks. This phase focuses on reinforcing the value of successful change by way of recruitment and promotion of new change leaders, and by way of weaving change into the culture (Chapman, 2010).

Kotter's change model can be used to support strategic change in an organization by providing a change management methodology. By helping managers to understand the process of change as well as the role of human nature, Kotter's model is useful for showing an organization how to effectively deal with moving a company in a new direction. The model is especially beneficial for helping individuals understand why change within the organization is necessary so that the employees are able to embrace change and move forward (Faucheux, 2009).

Among the strengths of Kotter's model is its ability to successfully identify the components that are required for effective change management. On the other hand, there are criticisms as well. Kotter's is a top down model which works well with large corporations and large projects. However, in a setting where people expect a more participative or bottom up approach, a different model such as appreciative inquiry might be more useful (21st Century Leader, n.d.).

Another criticism of Kotter's model is that it is somewhat mechanistic. The model works well as a checklist, but as a step-by-step prescription for change, it is not as useful as other models. Also, critics of Kotter's model point out that while the model is strong on initiating change, it is somewhat weaker at sustaining it (21st Century Leader, n.d.).

An additional criticism is that Kotter's approach may be too general, that the eight steps may overlook specifics associated with certain types of organizations. As one change expert points out, the 8-step change program encourages a mentality that oversimplifies the process and also fails to recognize the complexities and the interdependencies of planned change (DealTime, 2000).

Lewin's Change Management Model

Kurt Lewin's change management model offers another way of understanding and managing organizational change. Lewin's model consists of three stages, Unfreeze, Change and Freeze. Lewin uses the analogy of changing the shape of a block of ice to a cone of ice to illustrate the change process. If one considers change as a process made up of distinct stages, then one can begin to prepare by making a plan to manage the transition.

The initial phase, Unfreezing, consists of preparing the organization to accept the required change by breaking down the existing status quo so that one can build a new way of operating. A significant aspect of this stage is creating a compelling message to show why the existing way of doing things must change. This first part of the change process is typically the most difficult and stressful, and is likely to provoke strong reactions in people. This forced re-examination is necessary, however, in order to build a strong motivation to seek out a new stability. If this motivation is lacking, then the necessary buy-in and participation required to effect meaningful change does not occur (MindTools, 2011).

The second stage of Lewin's change model is Change, the phase in which people begin to resolve their uncertainty and seek out new ways to do things. At this point in the process, people begin to believe and act in ways that support the new direction. For change to be successful, it is important for people to understand how changes will benefit them. Achieving this understanding requires both time and communication MindTools, 2011).

When organizational changes have begun to take shape and people have accepted the new ways of working, it is time to begin the third stage, the Freeze. This stage functions to help people internalize and institutionalize changes. This phase is important because it allows the organization to create a new sense of stability which must be present before the organization can react to the next inevitable organizational change. One of the significant activities of this phase is making sure to celebrate the success of the change and helping people to find closure. By doing this and thanking them for enduring a painful time, the manager helps people believe that future change will be successful as well (MindTools, 2011).

Lewin's model for diagnosing and analyzing organizational problems is called Force Field analysis. The model identifies driving forces, such as environmental factors, which push for organizational change. The model also identifies restraining forces, such as limited resources or poor morale, which act as impediments to change. Understanding the problem within the organization requires that driving and restraining forces be identified and therefore defined. Once this happens, then planning by using goals and strategies for moving the organization's equilibrium in the desired direction can take place (Leadersphere, 2008).

Lewin's model relies upon the change process with its built in social implications, for example, disequilibrium is expected to continue until equilibrium reestablishes. The goal for this model is to deliberately move the organization to a desirable state of equilibrium by adding driving forces if required, and by eliminating restraining forces when appropriate (Leadersphere, 2008).

Lewin's force field analysis can be used to support strategic change as well. When a manager views the organization as having its equilibrium disrupted by the current state of affairs, that is, the current problem, then one can see from this perspective how the application of driving forces and restraining forces move the organization in the direction of its goal, the desired state of affairs. At this point, equilibrium is reestablished.

One of the strengths of Lewin's change management model is its…[continue]

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