Understanding Organizational Development and Executing Successful Change Process–Kurt Lewin’s Model

“ Unfortunately, some people will genuinely be harmed by change, particularly those who benefit strongly from the status quo. Others may take a long time to recognize the benefits that change brings. You need to foresee and manage these situations.” Kurt Lewin, 1939

Sometimes, as I look at the poorly planned approach of the White House and Congress attempts to lead us out of these difficult times I wonder if any of our leader’s have studied or learned about the how to institute and manage the process of successful change projects. Or are they just flying by the intuitive “seat of their pants” which guarantees  a longer period for adjustment and acceptance of change initiatives and more suffering when changing large system like Health Care, Deficit Reduction and job creation programs.

So I am going to provide one straightforward and simple model developed by Dr. Kurt Lewin,who has been called the founding father of  Organizational Development and Change Management for their edification and use.

Lewin’s Model for Understanding the Processes of Organizational Development and Change  

One of the cornerstone models for understanding organizational change was developed by Kurt Lewin back in the 1940s, and still holds true today. His model is known as the three-step process for change–Unfreeze – Change – Refreeze. Lewin used a clear, concise and compelling analogy for explaining the change process by describing the simple process of changing the shape of a block of ice into the shape of a cone.

Block of Ice Analogy for understanding Change Process

If you have a large cube of ice, but realize that what you want is a cone of ice, what do you do? First you must melt the ice to make it amenable to change (unfreeze). Then you must mold the iced water into the shape you want (change). Finally, you must solidify the new shape (refreeze).

By looking at change as process with distinct stages, you can prepare yourself for what is coming and make a plan to manage the transition – looking before you leap, so to speak. All too often, people go into change blindly, causing much unnecessary turmoil and chaos.

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