It’s not my intention to give full information or an extensive discussion on every theory. This website is intended to be a starting point and the main difference with other websites is the visual representation of the theory, which I hope will help get to grips with the theory. There are also links it the bottom to get your further research started.

Change Management Model

Kurt Lewin 1947

 

Definition

When you look into Kurt Lewin’s Change Management theory you will realise quickly that this is a theory with a strong foundation and links to the world of business. It was initially conceived to help manage change in business. This doesn’t mean we can’t use it within career management and it makes sense to do so.

 

This is what it looks like:

This looks very straightforward, right?

How will this work in practice?

Kurt Lewin is also the father of social psychology and argues that individual behaviour arises from the behaviour of the group. The individual and the group form the ‘field’. The field is normally in a quasi equilibrium state and resists change.

1. Unfreezing

To enable the first stage of change to happen, the equilibrium the field is in requires agitation, which prompts behaviour that is open to change. The field has to be prepared for change.

  • In a career context, this may involve a sense of ‘unease’ with the present situation in the client to instigate a ‘thawing’ of resistance and the generation of a willingness to change.
  • Another technique that can be used for this purpose is to explore with the client what would happen if they didn’t do anything to manage the change.
  • Or by exploring what the situation would look like after they had planned, managed and implemented a successful change.

2. Implementing change

Once the equilibrium is ‘unfrozen’, change can be planned and implemented. Within companies this change often originates from the management team but in clients, this change needs to come from them, with guidance by the career professional. Part of this stage is planning the changes to be made, looking for solutions and exploring possibilities, but also implementing them.

To make this process flow the professional needs to be honest with the client. The career guidance practitioner must ensure to share information and observations in an open and honest way to facilitate change within the client that is based on awareness, insight and knowledge (as far as possible). This needs to be handled sensitively and without exagerration intended to prompt an early change when the client is not ready. The adviser will also need to be monitoring their own biases and preferences so they don’t influence the process and steer the client in a direction that doesn’t suit them.

During this stage the focus is on the client’s empowerment, motivation and involvement in the process.

3. Refreezing

The new state is accepted as the new equilibrium. Changes are confirmed in a way they can be sustained. The adviser supports the client in finding ways and techniques to sustain the new gains and the new situation, which becomes the new normal for the client. The changes need to be tied into the natural fabric of the client’s social, cultural and habitual environment to be successful. This can for instance be through follow up once the refreezing has happend to offer the client additional encouragement, or it can be a reward system intrinsic to the new opportunity or the changed way of thinking by the client. 

 

Critique

  • Is this theory too simple, judging from the graphic representation of it?
  • How would you impliment this system with clients you’ve worked with? How would that work out and what techniques would you have used in each of the 3 stages?
  • When you look at the scope of this theory; how far does it take you and how much detail can you tease out?
  • What does this theory not tell you?
  • What resources (including time) are required and would you have them available to apply this model?
  • Is it easy to apply with clients?
  • In what circumstances would it be useful and when wouldn’t it?
  • How well ‘does it travel’ in your mind from the world of business to career guidance?

 

Useful links