Lewin’s…on the Rocks


Change is often described as being disruptive… upsetting… and sometimes, even threatening. We are told to be adaptive and accepting of the uncertainty, all the while resenting it as we fail to see why the need to change must happen in the first place.

Lewin’s Three-Step Model is a change management model, which helps us understand that change does not have to be all that bad, if handled correctly.

Changes in business processes, environment, structure, etc. (even people) are not always met with everybody’s approval. And so it is important to apply some method to the frenzy and chaos that follow.

Enter Lewin’s Three-Step Model.

This model is most often visualised by students as a big ice cube, waiting to be transformed. I must admit that whenever I mention this theory, even I cannot help myself from conjuring up this mental image of an ice block, that with the proper strength of heat, can be turned into a beautifully sculpted ice swan.

As the name of the model would suggest, there are three important steps involved.

First, the Unfreeze. The stage where we know that change needs to happen but we have yet to start the process. As mentioned, not everyone will be happy to hear that change is taking place. There will be grumbles and discontentment. We prepare overcoming these mindsets by being open and honest about the reason, the motive, the commitment required to make the change happen and the benefits we will accrue if it is to be successful.

Second, the Change. This is the period when change is implemented. This interval is normally fraught with confusion and chaos as we attempt the different options to do things the right way. This phase of tribulations can easily discourage us. We must persevere. Some efforts may fail but the successful ones will take us to our next stage, the Freeze.

The Freeze is when we find our groove and are now ready to make our triumphs official. We put the process/structure/environment in place and we disperse it to the rest of the operations. There may still be some honing-in to be done but these should be minimal.

Lewin’s change model is one of the easiest to remember and to use in a case study scenario. No matter what the change is, the steps remain universal for the change to become successful and effective. The change needs to be “sold”, needs to “happen” and then needs to be “rolled out”.

For a more detailed look of Lewin’s and other change management models, you could perhaps try Astranti’s E2 exam practice kits. For some case study scenarios that you can test your change management ideas on, why not try some mocks exams here?

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