How to support change that sticks!

September 2020 Chris Lewis

We have no choice, but to deal with change, perhaps the following sounds familiar?

  • Unexpected change?

  • You want change, but do not have support?

  • Do you face resistance?

Change techniques can be used to:

  • Communicate the reason for the change

  • Measure success

  • Keep the momentum

  • Make change stick

  • Prepare for resistance

  • Consider psychological and cultural aspects

The Kotter Change Model was developed in the 1930s by John Kotter. It starts with the reason for the change. It ends with anchoring change in the corporate culture. My personal favourite 'go-to' change model. I  like the description and granularity of the steps. The eight steps in the model are:

  1. Creating an urgency,

  2. Forming a powerful guiding coalition,

  3. Developing a vision and a strategy,

  4. Communicating the vision,

  5. Removing obstacles,

  6. Creating short-term wins,

  7. Consolidating gains and

  8. Anchoring change in corporate culture.

Kurt Lewin developed the Lewin Change Management Model in the 1940s. It has three steps that relate to the melting and reforming of ice. I like the simple and powerful analogy. I have encountered it in leadership training. The stages in this model are:

  1. Unfreezing – identify change is needed,

  2. Changing - the new desired level of behaviour

  3. Refreezing - solidifying the practice as a normal

The Nudge Theory was developed in 2008 by Richard Thaler, Cass Kahneman and Amos Tversky. Its focus is the psychology of setting up small situations, called 'nudges'. Nudges influence and dictate behaviour where they are easy and cheap to implement. A new model that intrigued me enough to buy the book (details later).

The ‘Bridges Transition Model’ was developed in 1991 by William Bridges. It consists of three psychological steps that reflect adjustments as people go through change. It provides insight into the preparation and maintenance of change. The three steps are:

  1. Ends - recognise change is happening.

  2. Neutral - understand the old reality and new one

  3. A new beginning - new energy and acceptance

The 'ADKAR Model' was developed in the 1940s by Jeff Hiatt consisting of five steps. The model is goal-based to support change management. I especially like the way it focuses on the individual level of change and also addresses the need to ensure change sticks. The key steps are:

  1. Awareness of the need to change

  2. Desire to support the change

  3. Knowledge of how to change

  4. Ability to demonstrate skills and behaviours

  5. Reinforcement to make change stick


The book, Change Confusion: Prepare, Support and Maintain, looks at key change tools and techniques to support change management.

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