Change management models refer to those methods, which guide the process of managing change in different organizations (Cameron & Green, 2009, p. 109). Over the years, the successful application of these methods has led to the adaptation of the models as guidelines for change management. The most common examples include Lewin’s change management model, the 7 s model, and the 5 P’s model among others.
The idea in Lewin’s model revolves around a cube of ice in that if one desires to have a different shape of the ice cube, the best thing to do is to melt it, shape the liquid into the desired shape, and finally refreeze it. Accordingly, if one expects to see change in an organization, the first step towards experiencing change entails breaking down the existing organizational structures and restructuring them into desired structures (Cameron & Green, 2009).
Here, the first step or the unfreezing step brings the people involved into understanding the need for change, and subsequently, prepare themselves to forego the current organizational values, behavior, attitudes, and culture. The second stage or the ‘change’ stage starts immediately after the people have acknowledged the need for change.
Finally, the third stage or the refreeze stage commences when change has been comfortably accepted. On the other hand, the 7 s model proposes adoption of complete change regarding the core systems/values of the organization.
Thus, the change process affects; the share values (the organization’s mission and vision statements), strategy (management, production, sales, and marketing), structure (both physical and value structures), systems (communication), style (production and leadership), staff (employees affected by the change), and skills (changing the entire organizational skill set).
This is the most effective way of managing change considering that the model affects the basic systems of the organization right from core values through training and recruiting new skills (Cameron & Green, 2009, pp. 109-115).
Relative to the 7 s model, the 5 P’s model developed by Dr. Leslie Toombs, Dr. Mildred Pryor, and Chris white, suggests that the first step in change management should entail changing the mission statement. Therefore, change management involves identifying organizational weaknesses, which should form the right candidates for change. Subsequently, the second step should involve identification and description of various organizational processes whose change will result into desirable outcomes.
This step is then followed by reviewing all the 7 s values described in the foregoing discussions. The change process should also include re-organization of the skills and job descriptions of the people involved. Finally, there is the need to evaluate the performance of the change processes in order to single out processes that may require additional change (Cameron & Green, 2009).
Implementing the Lewin’s change management model in an organization
As noted earlier, the Lewin’s model follows three major steps, which include unfreeze, change, and refreeze in that order. Therefore, these distinct stages of change management enable one to adequately plan to manage it. As a result, Lewin’s model suggests that the first step in change management involves preparing the organizational processes and the people for the forthcoming change through breaking down the existing culture, values, attitudes, and behavior.
Here, the most practical steps that an organization needs to take is first to determine the processes that need to change. This can be achieved through understanding the current status of the said processes and the reasons why change is necessary. Secondly, there is the need to seek full support of the top management including key persons in the organization and framing the change process in such a way that reflects its importance across the whole organization.
Thirdly, one should create the need for change by emphasizing why change is necessary and communicating a compelling message, vision, and strategy that capture the need for organizational change. Finally, one should consider understanding and managing the doubts and concerns of the people involved by remaining open and responsive to their questions (Cameron & Green, 2009).
Having addressed the above issues accordingly, the ‘change’ stage entails guiding the people to overcome various uncertainties and to transition from the old ways to the new era. Accordingly, the most practical steps in this stage should include communicating the planning and implementation of the change process, and explaining the benefits and effects of the change to everyone.
Moreover, the change manager should dispel rumors by answering questions regarding the change in an open and honest manner. Additionally, the implementation of change should involve the proactive participation of the people through providing them with the day-to-day directions and short-term successes regarding the change process.
Finally, the refreeze stage, which is also the final stage according to Lewin’s model, is marked by the people embracing the change, existence of a stable organization chart, internalization of the change processes, and availability of consistent job/skill descriptions among other changes (Cameron & Green, 2009).
Therefore, the refreeze stage should be managed by anchoring the new changes into the organizational culture besides addressing the factors supporting the change and the barriers to change sustainability.
Furthermore, change managers should ensure that change is sustained through maintaining leadership support, a reward system, feedback systems, and adaptation of suitable organizational structures. Conversely, the refreeze stage can be maintained through establishing support and training for the people involved and communicating the success stories achieved to reinforce the change process.
The significance of Lewin’s model in an Healthcare Organization
It is no doubt that healthcare organizations are complex in terms of managing change because they incorporate many heterogeneous groups of people coupled with the existence of many organizational areas within the same organization.
Therefore, consider an instance where such an organization intends to implement the use of informatics systems to increase efficiency and time management. Studies note that in most cases, such technological changes are met with not only technical challenges, but also behavioral ones (Lorenzi & Riley, 1999, p. 116).
As a result many are the instances whereby the implementation of the most technically-advanced technologies is met by resistance from all angles of the healthcare organization. Perhaps, the most suitable method to guide the implementation of medical informatics systems in the healthcare organizations should be designed around the Lewin’s model.
The healthcare sector stands to benefit from the implementation of the Lewin’s model when introducing new information technologies because most information system failures have been attributed to people and organizational issues. This implies that during the process of implementing the changes, the contribution of the people involved and the organizational structures is not considered.
Furthermore, there is the notion that human beings will naturally resist change, and many psychologists have gone as far as showing the psychological basis of change resistance. As a result, people tend to perceive change as a threat to their job security or something that will disrupt their comfort zone (Lorenzi & Riley, 1999).
However, through careful consideration and identification of all processes in the healthcare organization that require change in terms of implementing new informatics systems, the people affected by the change can be given the chance to acknowledge the need for change and review their attitudes, culture, values, and behavior.
Having achieved this, the change manager can then move forward and initiate the first stages of change management in terms of encouraging the re-organization of organizational culture, behavior, attitudes, and values. Subsequently, change can be implemented and sustained using the practical steps described in the foregoing discussions. Overall, there is the need to realize that in order to manage change in a healthcare organization; one should have excellent technical, people-oriented, and organizational skills.
Cameron, E., & Green, M. (2009). Making sense of change management: A complete guide to models, tools & techniques of organizational change (2nd ed.). Philadelphia, PA: Kogan Page Limited.
Lorenzi, N.M., & Riley, R.T. (1999). Managing change: An overview. J Am Med Inform Assoc., 7(2), 116-124.