Reviewing The Lewins Change Model Information Technology Essay

Three stage theory of change was proposed by Kurt Lewin (founder of social psychology). Initially the theory was presented in 1947 and since then a lot of changes has been taken place in the original work. Actually there are various models of change which are based on the Kurt Lewin model. According to Kurt Lewin, change in organization is commonly referred to as Unfreeze, Change, and Freeze. Change entails moving from one equilibrium point to another.

Kurt Lewin model is useful to frame a process of change for people which can easily understand. Although this theory got so much popularity but it has been criticized for being too simplistic. The detailed explanation of each stage of the model is given below:

Stage 1: Unfreezing

Unfreezing is the first stage of Lewin’s Change Model. This stage focuses on the need for change and it is the starting point of change process. This stage emphasizes the importance of change and helps in moving move away from our current comfort zone. Change will not occur unless and until we understand the urgency of change. The more we believe that change is essential, the more pressing it is and vise versa. When it becomes evident that the organization requires a change then the next step is to identify the pros and cons associated with the implementation of change. For example it would be wise to proceed with the change if the forces supporting the change outnumber the forces restraining the change. This is the basis of Kurt Lewin model which is force field analysis. In field force analysis there are various factors related to the change. Some of the factors are in favor of change while others are opposing factors. A change cannot takes place unless the factors for change is greater than the factors against change. In the ‘Unfreezing’ stage a department or an entire business moves towards motivation for change. FFA is a helpful way to know this process and there are ample of thoughts for doing this.

Stage 2: Change – or Transition

The second stage of Lewin’s Change Model is a process of transition from current state to the desired state. In transition process the current states is unfrozen and movement is started towards the new state. Lewin argued that the second stage is often the hardest as people are uncertain. Basically in this stage people are not much aware about the benefits of change so they are in the process of learning about the changes and require time to understand. In this stage people scan the environment for new relevant information and try to identify new role model or mentor. People must have clear picture of the desired change which will help them in having clear ide where they are heading.

Stage 3: Freezing (or Refreezing)

The last stage of Lewin’s Change Model is freezing or refreezing. Once the change has been made, the next step is to freeze the change in order to establish stability. In this stage everything is going to settle down because people are in the process of accepting the new changes. Thus all the changes become new norms of the organization and people form new relationships. People will become comfortable with their routines but it will take time. Many people argue that there is no freezing because of dynamic environment in which things are changing very rapidly. Therefore there is always a continuous change and freezing has become a confused process in which enormous flexibility is required. In this way ‘unfreezing’ for the next change might be easier. Lewin’s tried to reinforce the change and ensure that the desired change is accepted and maintained into the future. Reinforcement is very important because people tend to go back to doing what they are used to doing.

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General model of planned change

There are two types of change which are planned change and unplanned change. Since the environment is changing frequently therefore it becomes imperative for the organization to keep pace with the rapid change. For this purpose a planned change is necessary to cope up with the future demands of the organization. Those organizations which are not focusing on the planned change are either failed miserable or faces huge financial losses in the future. One of the models for planned change is general model of planned change which is widely used by organizations.

General model of planned change has four stages which are given below:

Entering contract


Planning and Implementing


Basically, the relationship is shown in the figure given below:

Entering and Contracting

This is the first stage of general model of planned change. It helps the management to decide whether to proceed with an OD intervention or not. This stage helps in identifying the resources, time and finances needed for the change. Basically the entering and contracting phase has other sub-stages as well such as gathering initial data, presenting initial findings to the customers, proposed a model to be used, the review of the proposal by customers and signing a contract on the basis of mutual agreement. In case of initial data gathering the OD practitioner and the customer would normally start with a discussion about the reason for considering OD in the first place. Then the data would be collected by the OD practitioner to get better understanding of the organization and reasons for change. OD practitioner analyzes the data and makes preliminary recommendations about possible ways to go forward. He then presented the data to the customer and they will jointly do some preliminary work with this data. In the next step the OD practitioner try to build relationship with the customers to better assist and facilitate the process. It is very important for the OD practitioner to know the how the process will play out to insure that there are no surprises for the customers down the line. It is often seen that many efforts stop at the entering and contracting phase because of various reasons such as: lack of resources, alternating solution for the problem is found, there is difference between the values of OD practitioner and the organization.


Diagnosing is the second phase of general model of planned change. In this phase data is gathered, analyzed and proper feedback is given. The OD practitioner tries to understand the problems of organization and the effects of those problems on the overall performance of the organization. He also evaluates the strengths of the organization on the basis of which organization can build. There are three levels for diagnosis which are: organizational level, group level or individual level. But diagnosis at organizational level is much more complex than the diagnosis at individual level. However it is argued that the diagnosis at the larger levels are the inputs for the smaller ones, therefore it is necessary to understand the higher levels, even when diagnosing at a lower level. The analysis and feedback process is collaborative, ensuring continued use and ownership of the data and the results of the diagnosis, by the client. The analysis process might include the consultant making some preliminary conclusions, but the real conclusions about the meaning of the data, which will be used to plan the interventions, should be done collaboratively with the client.

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Planning & Implementing Change

In this phase of planned change model, the OD practitioner and organizational members design the interventions that would drive the change.  Such interventions are always based on the results of the diagnosis and help in resolving the problems. The way intervention is designed is affected by various factors such as: the capability and readiness of the organization for change, skills of the OD practitioner, the power distribution of the organization etc. Basically there are four types of interventions which are given below:

Human Process interventions

Human Relations interventions

Techno-Structural Interventions

Strategic Interventions


This is the last stage of planned change model. In this stage the overall success of change process is evaluated. The practitioners as well as top management try to find out whether the change was successfully implemented and the required results are achieved or not. Evaluation is necessary because it shows the success or failure of change program.

Beyond the Quick Fix

Ralph Kilmann proposed beyond the quick fix model in his book beyond the quick fix managing five track to organizational success. The author argued that there are five stages for successfully implementing the change in any organization. Organizations must focus on successfully implementing the current stage before moving into the next stage because if the initial stage is not implemented successfully then the next stages will also be affected. Mangers and consultants must not go through a long and hard process if success is not possible. This model was successfully implemented in top organizations such as: AT&T, Kodak, Ford, GE, General Foods and Xerox. However the time of completely implementing the change rages from one year to five years. The five stages proposed by Ralph Kilmann are given below:

Initiating the Program

Diagnosing the Problem

Scheduling the Tracks

Implementing the Tracks

Evaluating the Results

Initiating the program (Commitment from top management)

Initiating the program is the first stage of beyond the quick fix model. In this stage the top management realizes that there is need for change because they feel that their old ways of addressing the problems are no longer effective. They could indication for change through various sources such as continuous decline in sales, revenue, market share, brand loyalty etc. On the basis of these indicators the top management decides to contract external consultant who can provide a fresh approach. After contracting the external consultant the next step is to make consensus whether to proceed or not based on the ground realities. The manager and consultant

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Diagnosing the Problems

This is an important stage of beyond the quick fix model. In this stage managers try to evaluate the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats of organization. This will help the managers to first diagnose the problems and then solve them on the basis of available resources and strengths of the organization. Therefore the best for the consultants is to interview a representative sample of members throughout the organization.

Scheduling the Tracks

The scheduling tracks of the model emphasize the particular techniques which makes the five tracks. The techniques will help in solving the problems identified at the earlier stage of diagnosis. There are various factors which are included in this stage such as: culture, skills, team building, strategy, structure, reward system.

Implementing the Tracks

Implementing the tracks is the fourth stage of beyond the quick fix model. In this stage planned tracks are being implemented. There are also various adjustments which take place during the process which organization learned with the passage of time.

Evaluating the Results

Evaluating the results is necessary to know because it helps in examining the proper implementation of change program. Evaluating the results act as a measure for effectiveness of previous stages. If the desired results are achieved then it is the indication that the program was successful. Based on various evaluations, additional activities may be scheduled and implemented for one or more tracks and the cycle of planned change continues.

Burke-Litwin Model of Organizational Change

Transactional Change

Transactional change or first order change refers to a situation in which some features of the organization changes without changing the basic nature of the organization. In transactional change there is no need to change the organizational structure, policies and procedures, and skills and abilities needed to execute the change. Transactional change includes changes in standards, requirements, chain of commands etc. In most cases the outcome of transactional change is simple and predictable.

Transformational Change

Transformational change or second order change is type of change in which fundamental nature of the organization changes substantially. Basically in transformational change the outcomes are complex and unpredictable. In such cases the focus is on the change of mission, strategy, leadership, organization culture, policies and procedures. There are some unique skills, abilities and ways of thinking to successfully implement the change. Transformational change requires huge invesment and serious attention from various stakeholders such as: political leaders, engineering, workforce etc. OD programs are directed toward both first and second order change with an increasing emphasis on second-order transformational change.

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