If you have ever experienced a change in an organization, you most likely had thoughts about how the change was implemented. Simple things can sometimes set off resistance or negative reactions from people. Wouldn’t it be nice if you had countered the impact of the change and were able to continue moving forward versus reacting to people who are shocked, resistant, or disoriented from what you are trying to implement?

In this post we will evaluate different change management models and depending on your change management needs we will discuss different ways of implementing change in your organization. To choose the right change management model you have to consider the perspective of individuals leaving the status quo and moving to the new business processes or environment.

When managing change in an organization, it’s important to think about the different change management models that can help your team adjust and act in the right way. Creating and communicating a strategic vision or any change from the status quo in the organization may require you to leverage the power of a change management model. A change management framework or change management model can help an organization figure out what steps to take to reduce the negative effects of change.

Lewin’s Change Management Model

In the 1940s Kurt Lewin created Lewin’s Change Management Model. In this model, Lewin theorized that change requires a three-stage process: unfreezing, changing, and refreezing. Unfreezing is the process of creating the motivation to change, changing is the implementation of new behaviors or processes, and finally, refreezing is about anchoring new behaviors into organizational culture. A similar model to Lewin’s model is the Bridges Transition model where it starts with the Current state, Neutral Zone, and ends in New Beginnings.

Both Lewin’s Change Management Model and Bridges transition model are simplistic in nature and from my point of view, they do not consider all of the things that need to be prepared ahead of time. Additionally, these simple models do not help you with managing your team through change. To better understand it might help to look at a picture of what we go through when we are moving from the status quo to a new process or environment.

Kübler Ross Change Curve

The Kübler Ross change curve illustrates how people can move through the different stages of the emotional states of change. In any type of change, you may find people who are shocked, in denial, frustrated, or depressed. You want your team to go through these phases of change as quickly as possible so that they can get to the far end of the curve, which ends in experiment, decision, and integration. Throughout each of the phases of change, your method of approach for your team that is going through the change process needs to adapt to where they are in the curve.

Most Popular Change Management Models

In 1995 Kotter introduced Kotter’s 8-Step Change Model for successful organizational change. This model takes into account the Kübler Ross change curve and implements a change management strategy that helps teams move from the current state to the future state. Kotter’s model has eight steps: create urgency, form a powerful coalition, create a vision for change, communicate the vision, empower employees to act on the vision, plan for short-term wins, consolidate improvements and institutionalize changes. The Kotter model requires strong leadership in order to succeed as it focuses on communication and motivation.

Kotter’s model focuses on creating a sense of urgency within the organization as well as identifying possible changes that need to be made. The eight-step process involves setting objectives and strategies, establishing a coalition of people who will lead the change effort, communicating the vision for change throughout the organization, empowering employees with resources they need to make the necessary changes, monitoring progress regularly, reinforcing successful steps taken towards the vision, and finally, creating a new culture of change.

ADKAR change management model is a popular model that focuses on five stages used to create and manage organizational change. The five stages are Awareness of the need for change, Desire to participate in that change, Knowledge of how to make it happen, Ability to implement it with the right skills, and Reinforcement to ensure long-term success. This model helps teams understand their current state as well as what their desired end state should be when managing changes.

Both Kotter’s model and ADKAR provide organizations with an effective framework for managing and implementing successful changes. They help teams identify the potential risks associated with any transition while also providing them with the tools they need to move forward. When considering which change management model to use, it is important to understand the specifics of each one and make sure that they fit your organization’s unique needs.

If you will need to communicate to your team any level of change (i.e. strategic vision, system or management change), you should consider using either Kotter or ADKAR in your organization so that your team can have a successful change management experience. I have been trained on both of these models, and overall, I believe that they both have their advantages. If you want a model that you can read about along with clear, simple steps that can be implemented in your organization, I would choose the Kotter change management framework. If your organization will be undergoing repeated change, the ADKAR model provides a better understanding of the human side of change as well as clear change process steps that can be carried out across the five stages of change to assist your team in transitioning from the status quo to the future state. Implementing the ADKAR change management process does however take adequate training. Most change initiatives fail because they do not focus on the tasks that must be completed early in the planning stage. Additionally, make sure that in the preparation stage, adequate time is spent understanding the perspective of how employees feel that will go through the change. This could also mean that senior management and business leaders need to teach their employees the skills they need to feel safe during the change.


To get started with either the Kotter change management model or the ADKAR change management model I would suggest visiting their websites and picking up a copy of the book that explains the change management process and models (change management frameworks). Implementing change isn’t easy and when done incorrectly your organization may resist or might even revert back to the old way of doing things.


Books (my affiliate links below):

Overall, Kotter’s model and ADKAR are two of the best change management models for businesses to consider when thinking about how their teams will react to any organizational change. By taking into account the advantages and disadvantages of each model, organizations can ensure that they make the right decisions when implementing organizational change in their workplace.