Introduction: The purpose of this article is to criticize Kurt Lewin’s model of change. I will shows how successful change can be encouraged and facilitated for long-term success. The article compares the characteristics of Lewin’s Three-Step Change Theory. According to me Kurt Lewin’s theory is agoal and plan oriented because it only consider about change not peoples feeling and opinions. His theory makes a complex sense. It is assumed that it takes decades to understand his theory. I will be providing the evidence further in my critical analysis.
This article also include other theories about manage or overcome resistance to change in organization. The theories serve as testimony to the fact the change is a real phenomenon. Definition: Lewin’s Three-Step Change Theory Kurt Lewin (1951) introduced the three-step change model. This social scientist views behaviour as a dynamic balance of forces working in opposing directions. Driving forces facilitate change because they push employees in the desired direction. Restraining forces hinder change because they push employees in the opposite direction.
Therefore, these forces must be analyzed and Lewin’s three-step model can help shift the balance in the direction of the planned change. Different approaches of resistance to change: According to Edgar H. Schein, you cannot understand a system until you try to change. While Morgan remarks, Resistance arises when the forces of an established attractor are more powerful than those of a new or emergent one. But one of the cornerstone models for understanding organizational change was developed by Kurt Lewin back in 1950s. His model is known as unfreeze change-Refreeze refers to the three stages process of change.
Lewin’s a physicist as well as social scientist, explained organizational change using the analogy of changing the shape of a block of ice. Causes of change: Organizations chages over time in a variety of ways. There are a number of ways which they might chage: From small companies to larger companies: E. g they may grow from being sole trader enterprise to partnership and then to companies like private to public companies. By growth process: They can either grow organically by ploughing back profits and owner capital into the business. Alternatively they can borrow external finance or grow by taking over and merging with other companies.
Altering their culture: Changing the typical patterns and behaviour within the organization e. g moving from a top-down organizational to a more democratic from Organizational typically change in response to the external environment, as well as through the development of competitive strengths within the organization. There are some external factors which make the organization to change. Social factors: e. g changes in demography and consumer buying patterns. Legal factors: Legal pressures that force organizations to change to comply with laws e. g by responding to environmental legislation.
Economical factors: Relate to booms and slumps in general economic activity, changes in interest rate, inflation rates etc. Political factors: Relate to wider political changes e. g a government taking a particular line on privatization/the role of the state in society. Technological factors: Relate to new developments in technology. E. g the development of web based selling methods by companies. Change is a common thread that runs through all businesses regardless of size, industry and age. Our world is changing fast and, as such, organizations must change quickly too.
Organizations that handle change well thrive, whilst those that do not may struggle to survive. The concept of “change management” is a familiar one in most businesses today. But, how businesses manage change (and how successful they are at it) varies enormously depending on the nature of the business, the change and the people involved. And a key part of this depends on how far people within it understand the change process. One of the cornerstone models for understanding organizational change was developed by Kurt Lewin back in the 1950s, and still holds true today.
His model is known as Unfreeze – Change – Refreeze, refers to the three-stage process of change he describes. Lewin, a physicist as well as social scientist, explained organizational change using the analogy of changing the shape of a block of ice. Understanding Lewin’s Model If you have a large cube of ice, but realize that what you want is a cone of ice, what do you do? First you must melt the ice to make it amenable to change (unfreeze). Then you must mold the iced water into the shape you want (change). Finally, you must solidify the new shape (refreeze). Unfreeze Change Refreeze
By looking at change as process with distinct stages, you can prepare yourself for what is coming and make a plan to manage the transition – looking before you leap, so to speak. All too often, people go into change blindly, causing much unnecessary turmoil and chaos. To begin any successful change process, you must first start by understanding why the change must take place. As Lewin put it, “Motivation for change must be generated before change can occur. One must be helped to re-examine many cherished assumptions about oneself and one’s relations to others. This is the unfreezing stage from which change begins. Unfreeze This first stage of change involves preparing the organization to accept that change is necessary, which involves break down the existing status quo before you can build up a new way of operating. Key to this is developing a compelling message showing why the existing way of doing things cannot continue. This is easiest to frame when you can point to declining sales figures, poor financial results, worrying customer satisfaction surveys, or suchlike: These show that things have to change in a way that everyone can understand.
To prepare the organization successfully, you need to start at its core – you need to challenge the beliefs, values, attitudes, and behaviors that currently define it. Using the analogy of a building, you must examine and be prepared to change the existing foundations as they might not support add-on storeys; unless this is done, the whole building may risk collapse. This first part of the change process is usually the most difficult and stressful. When you start cutting down the “way things are done”, you put everyone and everything off balance.
You may evoke strong reactions in people, and that’s exactly what needs to done. By forcing the organization to re-examine its core, you effectively create a (controlled) crisis, which in turn can build a strong motivation to seek out a new equilibrium. Without this motivation, you won’t get the buy-in and participation necessary to effect any meaningful change. Change After the uncertainty created in the unfreeze stage, the change stage is where people begin to resolve their uncertainty and look for new ways to do things. People start to believe and act in ways that support the new direction.
The transition from unfreeze to change does not happen overnight: People take time to embrace the new direction and participate proactively in the change. A related change model, the Change Curve, focuses on the specific issue of personal transitions in a changing environment and is useful for understanding this specific aspect in more detail. In order to accept the change and contribute to making the change successful, people need to understand how the changes will benefit them. Not everyone will fall in line just because the change is necessary and will benefit the company. This is a common assumption and pitfall that should be avoided.
Tip: Unfortunately, some people will genuinely be harmed by change, particularly those who benefit strongly from the status quo. Others may take a long time to recognize the benefits that change brings. You need to foresee and manage these situations. Time and communication are the two keys to success for the changes to occur. People need time to understand the changes and they also need to feel highly connected to the organization throughout the transition period. When you are managing change, this can require a great deal of time and effort and hands-on management is usually the best approach.
Refreeze When the changes are taking shape and people have embraced the new ways of working, the organization is ready to refreeze. The outward signs of the refreeze are a stable organization chart, consistent job descriptions, and so on. The refreeze stage also needs to help people and the organization internalize or institutionalize the changes. This means making sure that the changes are used all the time; and that they are incorporated into everyday business. With a new sense of stability, employees feel confident and comfortable with the new ways of working.
The rationale for creating a new sense of stability in our every changing world is often questioned. Even though change is a constant in many organizations, this refreezing stage is still important. Without it, employees get caught in a transition trap where they aren’t sure how things should be done, so nothing ever gets done to full capacity. In the absence of a new frozen state, it is very difficult to tackle the next change initiative effectively. How do you go about convincing people that something needs changing if you haven’t allowed the most recent changes to sink in?
Change will be perceived as change for change’s sake, and the motivation required to implement new changes simply won’t be there. As part of the Refreezing process, make sure that you celebrate the success of the change – this helps people to find closure, thanks them for enduring a painful time, and helps them believe that future change will be successful. Practical Steps for Using the Framework: Unfreeze 1. Determine what needs to change Survey the organization to understand the current state Understand why change has to take place. 2. Ensure there is strong support from upper management
Use Stakeholder Analysis and Stakeholder Management to identify and win the support of key people within the organization Frame the issue as one of organization-wide importance. 3. Create the need for change Create a compelling message as to why change has to occur Use your vision and strategy as supporting evidence Communicate the vision in terms of the change required Emphasize the “why”. 4. Manage and understand the doubts and concerns Remain open to employee concerns and address in terms of the need to change. Change 1. Communicate often Do so throughout the planning and implementation of the changes
Describe the benefits Explain exactly the how the changes will effect everyone Prepare everyone for what is coming. 2. Dispel rumoUrs Answer questions openly and honestly Deal with problems immediately Relate the need for change back to operational necessities. 3. Empower action Provide plenty of options for employee involvement Have line managers provide day–to–day direction. 4. Involve people in the process Generate short-term successes to reinforce the change Negotiate with external stakeholders as necessary (such as employee organizations). Refreeze 1.
Anchor the changes into the culture Identity what supports the change Identify barriers to sustaining change. 2. Develop ways to sustain the change Ensure leadership support Create a reward system Establish feedback systems Adapt the organizational structure as necessary. 3. Provide support and training Keep everyone informed and supported. 4. Celebrate success! Key Points: Lewin’s change model is a simple and easy-to-understand framework for managing change. By recognizing these three distinct stages of change, you can plan to implement the change required.
You start by creating the motivation to change (unfreeze). You move through the change process by promoting effective communications and empowering people to embrace new ways of working (change). And the process ends when you return the organization to a sense of stability (refreeze), which is so necessary for creating the confidence from which to embark on the next, inevitable change. Force Field Analysis Force field analysis is a management technique developed by Kurt Lewin, a pioneer in the field of social sciences, for diagnosing situations.
It will be useful when looking at the variables involved in planning and implementing a change program and will undoubtedly be of use in team building projects,when attempting to overcome resistance to change. Lewin assumes that in any situation there are both driving and restraining forces that influence any change that may occur. Driving Forces Driving forces are those forces affecting a situation that are pushing in a particular direction; they tend to initiate a change and keep it going. In terms of improving productivity in a work group, pressure from a supervisor, incentive earnings, and competition may be examples of driving forces.
Restraining Forces Restraining forces are forces acting to restrain or decrease the driving forces. Apathy, hostility, and poor maintenance of equipment may be examples of restraining forces against increased production. Equilibrium is reached when the sum of the driving forces equals the sum of the restraining forces. In our example, equilibrium represents the present level of productivity, as shown below. Equilibrium This equilibrium, or present level of productivity, can be raised or lowered by changes in the relationship between the driving and the restraining forces.
For illustration, consider the dilemma of the new manager who takes over a work group in which productivity is high but whose predecessor drained the human resources. The former manager had upset the equilibrium by increasing the driving forces (that is, being autocratic and keeping continual pressure on subordinates) and thus achieving increases in output in the short run. By doing this, however, new restraining forces developed, such as increased hostility and antagonism, and at the time of the former anager’s departure the restraining forces were beginning to increase and the results manifested themselves in turnover, absenteeism, and other restraining forces, which lowered productivity shortly after the new manager arrived. Now a new equilibrium at a significantly lower productivity is faced by the new manager. Now just assume that our new manager decides not to increase the driving forces but to reduce the restraining forces. The manager may do this by taking time away from the usual production operation and engaging in problem solving and training and development.
In the short run, output will tend to be lowered still further. However, if commitment to objectives and technical know-how of the group are increased in the long run, they may become new driving forces, and that, along with the elimination of the hostility and the apathy that were restraining forces, will now tend to move the balance to a higher level of output. Managers are often in a position in which they must consider not only output but also intervening variables and not only short-term but also long-term goals.
It can be seen that force field analysis provides framework that is useful in diagnosing these interrelationships. CRITICAL ANALYSIS: In this section of my article. I will criticize the lewin’s three step change theory. Lewin’s theoryl is very rational, goal and plan oriented. The change looks good on paper, as it makes rational sense, but when implemented the lack of considering human feelings and experiences can have negative consequences. There may be occasions when employees get so excited about a new change, that they bypass the feelings, attitudes, past input or experience of other employees.
Consequently, they find themselves facing Kurt Lewin theorized a three-stage model of change that has come to be known as the unfreezing-change-refreeze model that requires prior learning to be rejected and replaced. Edgar Schein provided further detail for a more comprehensive model of change calling this approach “cognitive redefinition. ” Stage 1 – becoming motivated to change (unfreezing) This phase of change is built on the theory that human behavior is established by past observational learning and cultural influences.
Change requires adding new forces for change or removal of some of the existing factors that are at play in perpetuating the behavior. This unfreezing process has three sub-processes that relate to a readiness and motivation to change. • Disconfirmation where present conditions lead to dissatisfaction, such as not meeting personal goals. However, the larger the gap between what is believed and what needs to be believed for change to occur, the more likely the new information will be ignored. • Previous beliefs now being seen as invalid creates “survival anxiety. However, this may not be sufficient to prompt change if learning anxiety is present. • Learning anxiety triggers defensiveness and resistance due to the pain of having to unlearn what had been previously accepted. Three stages occur in response to learning anxiety: denial; scapegoating & passing the buck; and maneuvering & bargaining. It is necessary to move past the possible anxieties for change to progress. This can be accomplished by either having the survival anxiety be greater than the learning anxiety or, preferably, learning anxiety could be reduced. CONCLUSION
In nutshell, we can say that Lewin’s model is very rational, foal and plan oriented. The change looks good on paper as it makes rational sense but when implemented the lack of considering human feelings and experiences can have negative consequences. People are happy in their existing job patterns they do not like changes. But we also cannot force them to change. There should be a proper communication between employees and employer. We have to take the employees opinion before make any changes in organization. The role of the change agent is significant in manage resistance to change in organization.
There is no right or wrong theory to change management. It is not an exact science. However through the ongoing research and studies by the industry’s leading expert a clear picture of what it takes to lead a change effort effectively will continue to emerge? It is important that we must continually review and consider how our changing society and culture will require fresh insight on the appropriate change process. So we can say that Kurt Lewin’s change theory is a dominated theory on employee’s feelings. It is not practical theory in today’s environment. References 1. Gareth morgan=IMAGES OF ORGANIZATION(new edition)(pg 355-375) 2.
Lewin, K. (1922). Der Begriff der Genese in Physik, Biologie und Entwicklungsgeschichte. (Lewin’s Habilitationsschrift) 3. http://www. statemaster. com/encyclopedia/Kurt-Lewin 4. http://www. statemaster. com/encyclopedia/Kurt-Lewin 5. www. largescaleinterventions. com/… /Lewin’s%20theory%20for%20change. doc 6 www. a2zpsychology. com/… /kurt_lewin’s_change_theory_page5. htm 7. www. docstoc. com/docs/4784190/kurt-lewin-change-theory 8. www. academon. com/kurt-lewin-model-change 9. www. nationalforum. com/… /Kritsonis,%20Alicia%20Comparison%20of%20Change%20Theories. pdf 10. ww. essays. se/about/critical+analysis+change+management/ Bibliography Lewin, K. A dynamic theory of personality. New York: McGraw-Hill, 1935. Lewin, K. Principles of topological psychology. New York: McGraw-Hill, 1936 Lewin, K. The conceptual representation and measurement of psychological forces. Contr. psychol. Theor. , 1938, 1(4). Lewin, I. Resolving social conflicts; selected papers on group dynamics. Gertrude W. Lewin (Ed. ). New York: Harper & Row, 1948. Lewin, K. Field theory in social science; selected theoretical papers. D. Cartwright (Ed. ). New York: Harper & Row, 1951