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Hybrid working: change management
Hybrid working: change management

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9.1 Lewin’s change management model

Lewin’s three-stage model of change, first mentioned in 1947, assumes a linear approach to change and likens it to changing an ice cube into a different shape through unfreezing, changing and refreezing:

  • Unfreezing: a stage within which those involved come to recognise the need for something to change; it involves examining the status quo, increasing the drivers for change and decreasing the resistance to change;
  • Change: a stage during which new ideas are tested and new ways of working emerge; and
  • Refreezing: a stage within which new behaviours, skills and attitudes are stabilised and commitment to change is achieved.
(Senior, Swailes & Carnall, 2020)

Despite criticism for being linear, somewhat simplistic and assuming ‘organizations operate in a stable state; was only suitable for small-scale change projects; ignored organizational power and politics; and was top-down and management-driven’ (Burnes, 2004), this model is still valid, especially when considering incremental changes.

Activity 12 How could you use Lewin’s change management model?

Timing: 15 minutes

To learn more about the model, read the article ‘Lewin’s change management model [Tip: hold Ctrl and click a link to open it in a new tab. (Hide tip)] ’ (Mind Tools Content Team, 2022) and watch the short video taken from the article below.

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Video 7 Lewin's change management model
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Now, think about the practical steps you could take to:

  • unfreeze change
  • ease the change stage
  • embed the change into your organisation or your team’s culture.