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Lewin  |  Kanter  |  Kotter  |  Senge



Unfreezing old learning requires people who want to learn new ways to think and act.

Moving to new learning requires training, demonstration, and empowerment.

Refreezing the learned behaviour occurs through applying reinforcement and feedback.

Force field analysis (Lewin, 1951) is diagnostic technique that has been applied to ways of looking at the variables involved in determining whether organisational change will occur. It is based on the concept of ‘forces’, a term which refers to the perceptions of people in the organisation about a particular factor and its influence.

Driving forces are those forces affecting a situation and which are attempting to push it in a particular direction. These forces tend to initiate change or keep it going.

Restraining forces are forces acting to restrain or decrease the driving forces.

A state of equilibrium is reached when the sum of the driving forces equals the sum of the restraining forces

Lewin formulated three fundamental assertions about force field change:

  • Increasing the driving forces results in an increase in the resisting forces; the current equilibrium does not change but is maintained under increased tension

  • Reducing resisting forces is preferable because it allows movement towards the desired state, without increasing tension

  • Group norms are an important force in resisting and shaping organisational change

Use Once change priorities have been agreed, a force field analysis can be used to identify actions that would enhance their successful implementation.

Evidence Lewin’s work is widely cited throughout change management literature. Empirical research supports Lewin’s assertions that working to reduce the resisting forces is more effective than efforts to increase the driving ones (Zand, 1995).

Commentary For the force field model to be of use, the forces need to be identified perceptively, rigorously and objectively, and the means identified of addressing the resisting forces need to be creative.

Many practising managers will be able to reflect on occasions in their own experience when they have aimed to increase the driving forces, rather than reduce the resisting ones, and have increased the resistance and the tension as a result.                                                                                                      top


  • Analyse the organisation & its need for change

  • Create a shared vision & common directive

  • Separate from past

  • Create a sense of urgency

  • Support a strong leader role

  • Line up political sponsorship

  • Craft an implementation plan

  • Develop enabling structures

  • Communicate, involve people & be honest

  • Reinforce & institutionalise change



  • Establish a sense of urgency  There are several techniques by which it is possible to establish a sense of urgency early on in the project lifecycle, helping to overcome most sources of complacency.

  • Create the guiding coalition  Put together a team of people with ample power to lead the change. Get the group to work together as a team.

  • Develop a vision and strategy  Create a clear and concise vision that will help direct the change effort, and develop strategies for achieving that vision.

  • Communicate the change vision  Use every vehicle possible to constantly communicate the new vision and strategies. Ensure that the guiding coalition role model the behaviour expected of employees.

  • Empower broad-based action  Get rid of any obstacles which threaten the project. Remove systems or structures that undermine the change vision and encourage risk taking in non-traditional ideas and activities.

  • Generate short term wins  Plan for visible improvements which can be implemented during the course of the project, deliver these 'wins' and publicly recognise / reward those who made them possible.

  • Consolidate gains and produce more change  Use credibility gained from early 'wins' to bring other structures & processes into alignment with the change vision. Get the people who can and will implement these new changes, and re-invigorate the process with new projects and themes.

  • Anchor new approaches in the corporate culture  Create better performance through customer and productivity oriented behavior, better leadership and more effective management. Articulate the links between the new behavior and organizational success. Develop ways to ensure further leadership development and succession.



Challenges of Initiating Change

  • "We don't have time for this stuff!" People who are involved in a pilot group to initiate a change effort need enough control over their schedules to give their work the time that it needs.

  • "We have no help!" Members of a pilot group need enough support, coaching, and resources to be able to learn and to do their work effectively.

  • "This stuff isn't relevant." There need to be people who can make the case for change -- who can connect the development of new skills to the real work of the business.

  • "They're not walking the talk!" A critical test for any change effort: the correlation between espoused values and actual behaviour.

Challenges of Sustaining Momentum

  • "This stuff is . . ." Personal fear and anxiety -- concerns about vulnerability and inadequacy -- lead members of a pilot group to question a change effort.

  • "This stuff isn't working!" Change efforts run into measurement problems: Early results don't meet expectations, or traditional metrics don't calibrate to a pilot group's efforts.

  • "They're acting like a cult!" A pilot group falls prey to arrogance, dividing the company into "believers" and "nonbelievers."

Challenges of System wide Redesign and Rethinking

  • "They . . . never let us do this stuff." The pilot group wants more autonomy; "the powers that be" don't want to lose control.

  • "We keep reinventing the wheel." Instead of building on previous successes, each group finds that it has to start from scratch.

  • "Where are we going?" The larger strategy and purpose of a change effort may be obscured by day-to-day activity. Big question: Can the organization achieve a new definition of success?


Change Mgt

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