Wednesday, April 21, 2010

A 3 step model for change?

Those who follow me closely know that I have recently recommended that we forget about all change models for a while and let the client organization design the Change Journey. Today, I came across a nice and very simple 3 step change model: 3 Ways to Overcome Change (you will probably need to be a member of the LinkedIn Lead Change Group to see the original post). I am not sure who the author is but it says: Today's Management Tip was adapted from "Four Ways to Attack the Castle — And Get a Job, Get Ahead, Make Change" by Rosabeth Moss Kanter (which reads quite differently).

This is the short text of the post

People often react to change by resisting it, and smart change agents know that being aggressive only makes people increasingly defensive. Here are three ways to move around the defenses and closer to your goal:

1. Find another way in. If your change is rebuffed, try another tactic. Find out what matters to the people whose support you need and shift the focus of the change to take their preferences and goals into account.
2. Befriend people closest to your resisters. Make friends with administrative assistants, direct reports, or other people who spend time with them. These relationships often yield useful information and help get your ideas heard.
3. Go bottom up. If senior management is resisting your idea, start from the bottom of the organization and build grassroots support. With enough backing, you may be able to convince leaders to reconsider.

While I love simplification, I think we should Einstein's suggestion that everything should be made as simple as possible, but not simpler. In that sense, the three tips on how to overcome change are a bit simplistic for me. And, less because they are only three (I would live to come up with a 3-step formula for change).

A problem I have with these three specific tips is linked to the initial statement "People often react to change by resisting it..." to which the strategies are related (in fact the strategies themselves are not bad as such).

I believe that the main reason why change efforts fail is exactly this attitude of change managers: We have the solution (because we are smart), and the people are the problem. I would like to turn that around: People have the solution because they are smart, and the managers are the problem. Then, the three tips would read like this (finally while writing I have come up with a 3 step model!):

1. Find another way in: Create containers in which people can discuss what matters to them, to their working place, their team, their company, and the industry.

2. Befriend people closest to the champions and supporters and let them drive the change.

3. Go bottom up. In any case, start from the bottom of the organization and build grassroots support. Involve everybody, even senior management.


  1. Thank you for the insights Holger. I especially like the idea of building relationships so that the new way of thinking can gain traction. It's valuable to gradually encourage people to take small actions in the direction of the change. That way the changes aren't as shocking and people can get used to them over time.

  2. This is important of human resource management and change which i am agree with holger that buildind network and good relationshipwith people crate more chances of success in introducing change.

    It is important to create good relationship with these people below;

    1.HR manager - the agents and facilitators of change.

    2.Staffs - the important resources, and the source of success and failure of changes.

    3.The management - The source of power and politics influencing changes.

    These will reduce the level of resistance by getting everyone involve and creat more chances of success in any changes.

    -- NisaC.

  3. The Four Levels of Change

    Level 1 – Cope with change; Victim Mentality:
    A culture is operating at the first level of change when people primarily think in terms of just coping with the situation. They respond to change with a "victim mentality."

    Level 2 – Comply with change: Adjustment mentality

    Cultures operating at the second level of change display more of an "adjustment mentality." Here at level two there's a clear, but not impressive, effort made to comply with the situation. Folks may not like what's going on one bit, yet they spend some energy accommodating the change.

    Level 3 – Capitalize on change: Opportunity mentality

    Cultures operating at the third level of change display an "opportunity mentality." Here the mindset is to capitalize on change. People try to turn it to their advantage.

    Level 4 – Create change: Possibilities mentality

    Cultures at level four are characterized by a "possibilities mentality." Overall, the organization is proactive, not reactive. Instead of waiting for change to happen, people set about to make it happen.