|Type of paper:||Critical thinking|
Overview of Lewin's Change Management Model
Kurt Lewin has been regarded as the pioneer of change management, with his unfreeze-change-refreeze or 'changing as three steps' (Cummings, Bridgman, & Brown, 2016). The theory has been lauded as one of the most classic approaches to change management. Lewin's idea of change was a modification of forces that keep an organization's behavior stable. He further explained that specific set of behaviors exhibited in a system at any given moment could be explained using two opposing forces; those that strive to maintain status quo and those that are would like to see changes happen. When both of these forces are equal in strength, current behaviors are supported in what Lewin referred to as "quasi-stationary equilibrium" (Cummings & Worley, 2009). Lewin further explained that for a change of state to be achieved, the forces pushing for change could be increased or those maintaining the current state can be reduced. Also, change in the current state can be made through the application of a combination of both.
The rationale for Creating Lewin's Change Model
According to Burnes (2004), 3-change model has been reported as Lewin's vital contribution to organizational change. However, Burnes (2004) explained that it is essential to recognize that during the development of his 3-Step model, Lewin did not have his work focused only on organizational issues. Lewin did not also want his 3-Step model of change not be seen as separate from his previous work on change, especially Field Theory, Group Dynamics and Action Research which comprise his Planned approach to change. Instead, he wanted all the four elements (Field Theory, Group Dynamics, Action Research, and Change Model) as a standard approach used to analyze, understanding and to bring about change at the group, organizational and societal levels.
Three Stages of Lewin's Change Model
According to Hayes (2018), Lewin's Change management model is comprised of three steps aimed at ensuring that successful change takes place in an organization. The three-step process of change includes unfreezing, moving, and freezing. That is, based on this model of change, change management involves helping an individual or an organization unfreeze the current behavior, advance to a new level, and finally refreezing behavior at the newly attained level.
The first step, unfreezing, is meant to destabilize the existing balance of forces that are driving and restraining the work of the organization. Destabilization of these forces is achieved by making the members of the organization aware of the need for change. In this stage, weakening of the straining forces and strengthening of the driving forces is attained through the creation of a vision of a more desirable future state and giving organizational members information that enhances a sense of urgency. The term unfreezing is the same as the concept of "creating readiness for organizational change" (Wang, City, & Ellinger, 2009). It has been posited that organizational members who are more ready for change are at a higher likelihood of accepting new changes (Wang, City, & Ellinger, 2009). The importance of the unfreezing stage is that it motivates the members to quit their current undesirable behaviors and adopt new desirable ones (Hayes, 2018). Some of the activities that can help in ensuring a successful unfreezing stage include motivating the participants by making them prepared for change, the building of trust and recognizing the need for change, and active participation in the identification of problems and brainstorming solutions within a group (Kritsonis, 2005).
The second phase of Lewin's Change Model, moving, involves modification of the balance between driving and restraining forces thus resulting in a shifting of the equilibrium to a new level. This stage is crucial because it enables members of the organization to adjust their attitudes and beliefs, and later the processes, systems, and structures associated with behavioral change (Hayes, 2018). In this stage of change, three actions can aid in movement: persuading members of an organization to agree that the status quo is not helpful to them and encouraging them to examine the problem form a new perspective, work as a team on a quest for novel, relevant information, and link the views of the team to respected, influential leaders that also support the change (Kritsonis, 2005).
Lastly, the last stage of Lewin's Change Model, refreezing, is aimed at ensuring that the new behaviors are reinforced in order sustain the new levels of performance as well as to prevent the members of an organization from going back to their old ways of doing things. The embedment of new practices or behaviors in an organization is achieved through feedback that manifests the efficacy and consistency of new behaviors and incentives that reward the new performance levels (Hayes, 2018). One of the ways through which Lewin's third step can be implemented is by reinforcing patterns and institutionalizing them via formal and informal mechanisms such as policies and procedures (Kritsonis, 2005).
How would you modify/alter his theory to ensure that it remains relevant and applicable within KSA?
One of the critical weaknesses of Lewin's Change Model is that it emphasizes on bureaucratic leadership style. This is characterized by traditional top-down, command-and-control management style aimed at segmenting organizations into small units that can be run by use of systematic rules. Instead of the bureaucratic nature of leadership style advocated by Lewin, Lewin's Change Model should be modified to incorporate internal and external synergies in running the organization. Another change that should be made to Lewin's Change Model is the need for managers to inculcate the spirit of innovation, experimentation and business creation, through the development of strong, relevant organizational cultures.
Discuss any changes to be made to his theory to reflect today's business environment, both globally and within KSA.
Unlike the past organizations in which Lewin's work was aimed at enhancing strict rules and closed supervision in order to promote organizational objectives and meet the goals of an organization, the modern business environment is based on shared values and culture. Consequently, in today's business environment strict rules and closed supervision meant to promote organizational objectives do not work. Instead, corporate goals can be attained through empowering employees using their own initiative (Burnes, 2004). Consequently, in the modern business environment, Lewin's Change Model should not be driven from the top but must be modified to operate bottom-up fashion in day-to-day operations in the organization. Consequently, the foundation of any successful business cannot be achieved through linear and static conception that is found in Lewin's Model of Change but through overlap and interpenetration of different stages in an organization (Burnes, 2004). Lastly, as opposed to domination of key people in the organization proposed Lewin's Model, modern organization should create opportunities for freedom and innovation.
Burnes, B. (2004). Kurt Lewin and the planned approach to change: a re-appraisal. Journal of Management Studies, 41(6), 977-1002.
Cummings, S., Bridgman, T., & Brown, K. G. (2016). Unfreezing change as three steps: Rethinking Kurt Lewin's legacy for change management. Human Relations, 69(1), 33-60.
Cummings, T. G., & Worley, C. G. (2009). Organization development and change. Cengage Learning.
Hayes, J. (2018). The theory and practice of change management. Cengage Learning.
Kritsonis, A. (2005). Comparison of change theories. International Journal of Scholarly Academic Intellectual Diversity, 8(1), 1-7.
Wang, Y.-L., City, T., & Ellinger, A. D. (n.d.). Applying Lewin's Change Model in the Development of a Learning Organization. Retrieved from http://www.anzam.org/wp-content/uploads/pdf-manager/1168_ANZAM2009-484.PDF
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