Change Management Frameworks – Which One Fits Best?

By Natanya Rutstein

Research conducted for IBM’s 2008 “Making Change Work” study shows that by using a standerdised change management approach an organisation can greatly increase its chances of implementing a successful change initiative. Prosci’s research on Best Practices in Change Management came to the same conclusion. Participants in the study who applied a structured change management methodology were 33% more likely to experience good or excellent change management effectiveness than those without a methodology.

There are numerous change management models which have evolved over the years, with some more established and widely used than others. Some of the more popular frameworks used by organisations include:

  • Lewin’s Change Management Model: A 3-step approach to change behaviour that reflects the process of melting and reshaping an ice cube.
  • ADKAR Model: A people-centered approach to facilitate change at the individual level.
  • Kotter’s 8-Step Change Model: A process that uses employee’s experience to reduce resistance and accept change.
  • Kubler-Ross Change Curve: A strategy that breaks down how people process change using the 5 stages of grief.
  • McKinsey 7S Model: A process centered on the alignment of seven fundamental organisational elements.

How do you choose a model?

 When selecting a framework keep in mind that each model has its own strengths and weaknesses and some will be better suited for use in particular situations than others. Always consider the type of change to be implemented, what you would like to achieve through the change as well as your particular organisational circumstances. Such considerations will assist you in selecting the most suitable framework for your particular change initiative.

According to Creasy and Hiatt in their book “Best Practices in Change Management” one of the most important factors to consider is the flexibility of the model and its ability to be shaped in accordance with the particular organisational circumstances and individual change initiative. The complexity of the model should also be an important consideration. A simple model will be far easier to use and to communicate to employees.

In a nutshell

 There is no best fit model for specific change initiatives. The model you select will most likely have to be adapted to suit your own individual circumstances and organisational needs. You may even decide to combine different models into a single workable framework. Successful change implementation can be achieved using a flexible framework which can shaped to your needs and which will guide you through the change process winning the support of your employee’s and helping you to anticipate and overcome resistance to the change.


Natanya Rutstein
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