An Organizational Change Model

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Kurt Lewin's Action Research Model

Kurt Lewin popularized this paradigm by incorporating it into the realm of organizational change management. Kurt believed that in order to understand and effect change in social events or conditions, the creators or instigators of the change should be included in the process. A neutral party must make one of two differing or opposing conclusions in a fair manner, according to the process. As a result, the neutral party must play the role of facilitator rather than expert. This is necessary in order to encourage participation and openness of both parties. It is the role of the facilitator to create an environment that of the action research is done transparently and the two disputing parties participate in arriving at an amicable solution that will suit them both. Their participation in this exercise is of outmost importance, to ensure that the two parties participate or drive the agreed upon final decisions actively with each side performing its roles as agreed upon.

The Seven Steps of the Action Research Model

The action research model has seven steps that are interactively participated by the consultant and the two conflicting sides. The first step is the entry, it is the initial stage where the facilitators develop a relationship between the players in the problem-solving process. The facilitator or consultants attempts to make sense of the source of the problem by carefully listening to the concerns of both parties. The second stage is the contracting phase, the facilitator tries to secure a binding contract that between the two sides so to try and avoid going through the whole process of action research. The third step, is the data gathering and analysis phase. The phase requires the two sides to gather information for analysis and comparison to support their claim, in an effort to bring out the relevance of their argument. The fourth step is the feedback phase, in this phase consultants provide their summations or feedback after analyzing the data provided by the clients stating what findings have been arrived at. The fifth stage is the planning change, here the consultant along with the clients work together to create a course of action that will address the concerns of the two parties and develop an action plan to provide steps to be followed to execute the plan (Lurey and Griffin, 2013).

The last two steps

The sixth step is the intervention phase where particular sets of the conclusions are applied to the clients’ departments or organizations, agreed upon solutions are put into practice with each of the client applying the necessary action that they are responsible for. The last step is the evaluation, this step involves the assessment of the conclusions agreed upon and evaluates the practicality and suitability of the solutions to the clients’ concerns. In case of any discrepancies, the evaluation stage is when they are brought to light and a reevaluation maybe warranted.

Kurt Lewin’s Three Step Organizational Change Model

Lewin's three-step change model is an important model for any organization trying to transition from one way of doing things into a new more efficient method. The change model is divided into three phases which are the unfreezing, moving or change phase, and the refreezing phase. This model acknowledges that change is a process that needs to be carefully planned and executed to attain success, therefore the change needs to be handled swiftly without complicating anything. The unfreezing phase involves the initial introduction of employees to the change. The phase requires that there is the creation of a feeling of need for change. The main goal here is to create awareness of why the change is necessary and try to dispel the default resistance to change that arises. It is important that the employees know and understand how the status quo is obstructing the organization from growing, so that they can be part of the change. This can be achieved by conducting examinations on the status quo and disseminating the findings and clearly informing why and how the current ways are hurting the development of the business. Communication is important as it prepares the employees for the imminent change, thus helping them to detach from the old ways and acknowledge the new. The second step is the actual change implementation phase, this is where there is a transition to the new order of operation. This is where most employees struggle with the new ways. The management should offer classes to help employees adapt to the new norm and remind them why the change was necessary. Refreezing the final step, this phase helps in solidifying the change and cements it as the new culture of the organization. It establishes the change as the new status quo (Hartzell, 2013).

John Kotter’s Model of Organizational Change

This is an eight-step model that guides managers on how to strategically and successfully implement change in their organizations. The model acknowledges the importance of employee buy-in in driving the change agenda. Step one is the creation of a sense of urgency, this will help in securing the eagerness and inspire teamwork in driving the change. Holding on to the status quo is viewed as a danger to the employee's future as they are not at an advantage over competitors. Secondly, the managers in charge of creating the change need to create a guiding coalition, which means picking able individuals from the employees who will be tasked with guiding the steps of the change to the rest of the employees. The third step involves the development of a change vision and the strategies on how the change will be executed. The fourth step is to communicate the change vision to the employees. This will enable the employees to see and understand why it is necessary to abandon the status quo for a new and different one. The fifth step is empowering the broad-based action, where unattainable distractions to the change are addressed and strategically removed. This phase involves bringing down barriers that are likely to deter the change process to ensure that the change process is moving positively.

The sixth step involves generating short-term wins, this helps in raising the morale of the employees and maintains the momentum of the change program. This will involve acknowledging staff and celebrating their accomplishments on reaching certain milestones in the change initiative. The seventh phase of the model is consolidating gains to produce more change. This can be explained as presenting previous success as facilitators of future success, with short-term wins acknowledged in phases that are dependent on the previous gains enabling future successes. The final step is anchoring changes within the organizational culture. This step involves the evaluation of the progress and the outcome as a result of the change and how well the change is being incorporated into the organization's culture and how it stands out as part of the shared values of the organization (Hartzell, 2013).

Comparing the Models

The scenario where the CEO was faced with the choice of picking an amicable solution to the dilemma triggered by the organization's chief marketing officer and the chief financial officer both having credible arguments. The two heads of departments are at loggerheads, with one asking for more funding while the financers declining the request due to the unavailability of enough funds. The action research model is the most practical method of handling the conundrum. With the CEO acting as the facilitator, both sides can argue out their concerns and together with the CEO be able to come up with an amicable decision that will suit both parties. Kotter's model for organizational change would be appropriate to drive the change in the first scenario, where a company's CEO tried to restructure her company but failed due to resistance from the employees. If the CEO follows Kotter's model, she stands a greater chance of successfully completing the restructuring and saving her company. Lewin's three-step model is the appropriate model in bringing about change in the operations of the small-town newspaper. Since the change involves phasing out the status quo and adopting a new culture, Lewin's model provides necessary steps and guidance to execute this change.

The action research model seems to be the least useful as it cannot fully satisfy the needs of an entity that requires a change. Rather, it seeks a compromise of some privileges, meaning that the change will only bring half the benefits and half the harm (Lurey and Griffin, 2013). Kotter's organizational change model is the best as it is simple, practical, and can be easily adopted without much complications. It also provides a detailed step-by-step direction to attain success (Hartzell, 2013).


Hartzell, S. (2013). Lewin stage model of change: Unfreezing, changing, refreezing Principles of Management. Retrieved from

Hartzell, S. (2013). Explaining Kotter’s 8 step change model. Principles of Management. Retrieved from

Lurey, J. & Griffin, M. (2013). Section 2: Chapter 4: Action Research: The anchor of OD practice. In Vogelsang, J. (Ed.). Handbook for Strategic HR: Best Practices in Organization Development from the OD Network. Saranac Lake, NY, USA: AMACOM Books, pp. 46-52. [eBook Business Collection]

May 24, 2023
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