Change is one of the core concepts in the world of business. Organizations and entities that do not keep up with the changes in the status quo cease functioning sooner or later. Therefore, organizations need to evolve consistently to remain visible.
Although we are familiar with the need to change, we somehow can’t manage to change with time. Flexibility with respect to one's plans and planning is essential. Complex procedures can make it difficult for organizations and institutions to incorporate changes or deviations.
To alleviate this problem of change management, Kurt Lewin devised a simple method to enable organizations to transition easily. Though Kurt Lewin's change management model was launched in 1940, it is still the most effective method for implementing organizational changes.
What is Lewin's Change Management Model?
Lewin’s change management model is a three-stage model which can be easily adopted by any business entity. The three stages are unfreeze, change, and refreeze. The model allows organizations to adapt quickly in challenging and rapidly evolving environments.
This change model involves making the organization environment-ready to incorporate one or more changes, implementing the required changes, and then making the organization stable after change implementation. These three stages don't disrupt the business's workflow.
How does Lewin's Change Management Model Work?
Suppose you have a cube of ice and you want to turn it into a conical structure. What will your first step be? You cannot directly transform the cubical piece of ice into a cone, right?
You first need to bring the ice cube into liquid form. You will then use an ice cream cone-shaper to turn the cube into a cone. Finally, you will freeze the liquid to transform it into solid ice.
Kurt Lewin used the same philosophy of ice to explain his change management model. The ice was turned into a liquid form from solidity (unfreeze). The second step is implementing the change which he explained by turning its shape into a conical form (change). And the last step is freezing the liquid again to turn it into ice (refreeze).
Let’s dive into each step to understand Lewin's model.
The first step before making a change is to get the employees change-ready. The employees must be aware of the upcoming change and the need for the change.
Lewin's concept behind the process was that employees become motivated to change if they understand the reason behind incorporating the change. Therefore, employees must be informed about the plan(s).
The second stage involves making the required changes within the organization. It is the most crucial step that give a tangible shape to the change. In this stage, the organization develops new ideas and strategies to implement the changes.
If the organization is not well-prepared for the change, it may create a lot of problems while implementing the change. So strong pre-planning is a must to apply the modifications hassle-free.
The last stage of refreezing is performed to ensure that the system is working according to the new changes. In this stage, the organization is made stable with respect to the new changes. The organization resumes functioning and the business gets back on track.
Advantages of Lewin's Change Management Model
Lewin’s change management theory is easy to understand and implement in a business organization. Unlike other methods, the change management model is easy to implement. It requires only a few steps which can be performed within a short span of time.
The change management theory follows an efficient method which doesn’t impact business continuity. Any on-going business can easily implement this model and make the required changes.
Disadvantages of Lewin's Change Management Model
The major disadvantage of the change management theory is the insecurity among employees. Employees tend to get worried about their performance when they hear about a new change. It creates a doubt in their mind whether they would be able to effectively perform their job or not.
Another major disadvantage is the refreezing stage. It requires a lot of time to freeze and settle down with the new changes. As the changes continue to take place in a challenging environment, the organization may not have the time to get used to the modifications.
How do you use Lewin's change model?
The 3 stages of change under Lewin's change model are:
- Step 1: Unfreeze. Lewin identifies human behavior, with respect to change, as a quasi-stationary equilibrium state.
- Step 2: Change. Once you've “unfrozen” the status quo, you may begin to implement your change.
- Step 3: Refreeze. Ensure that there's stability once the change is in place.
Why use Lewin's change model?
Lewin's change management theory helps account for both the uncertainty and resistance to change that can be experienced at all staff levels within an organization.
What is Lewin's change model?
Kurt Lewin developed a change management model involving three steps: unfreezing, changing, and refreezing. For Lewin, the process of change entails creating the perception that a change is needed, then moving towards the new, desired level of behavior and finally, solidifying that new behavior as the norm.