Theories of Change Management

06/01/2022 0 By indiafreenotes

Kotter’s change management theory

Kotter’s change management theory is one of the most popular and adopted ones in the world. This theory has been devised by John P. Kotter, who is a Harvard Business School Professor and author of several books based on change management. This change management theory of his is divided into eight stages where each one of them focuses on a key principle that is associated with the response of people to change.


  • Increase urgency: This step involves creating a sense of urgency among the people so as to motivate them to move forward towards objectives.
  • Build the team: This step of Kotter’s change management theory is associated with getting the right people on the team by selecting a mix of skills, knowledge and commitment.
  • Get the vision correct: This stage is related to creating the correct vision by taking into account, not the just strategy but also creativity, emotional connect and objectives.
  • Communicate: Communication with people regarding change and its need is also an important part of the change management theory by Kotter.
  • Get things moving: In order to get things moving or empower action, one needs to get support, remove the roadblocks and implement feedback in a constructive way.
  • Focus on short term goals: Focusing on short term goals and dividing the ultimate goal into small and achievable parts is a good way to achieve success without too much pressure.
  • Don’t give up: Persistence is the key to success, and it is important not to give up while the process of change management is going on, no matter how tough things may seem.
  • Incorporate change: Besides managing change effectively, it is also important to reinforce it and make it a part of the workplace culture.

Benefits of this model

  • This is a step-by-step model that is easy to follow and incorporate.
  • The main idea behind it is to accept the change and prepare for it rather than changing itself.

Nudge Theory

Nudge Theory or Nudge is a concept that finds use in behavioral science, economics, and political theory but can be applied to change management in organizations and businesses as well. This theory is mainly credited to Cass R. Sunstein and Richard H. Thaler. Nudging someone or encouraging and inspiring them to change is the basic essence of this theory. Nudge theory is not only helpful in exploring and understanding existing influences but also explaining them to either eliminate them or change them to an extent where positives may begin to be derived.

It is important to note that there are many unhelpful ‘nudges’ around which can either be deliberate or may just be accidental. What this theory mainly seeks is to work upon the management as well as the understanding of the many influences on human behavior that lead to the changing people. It focuses on the design of choices which is responsible for directing our preferences and influencing the choices that we make. What this theory says is that choices must be designed in such a way that it can be aligned with the way people think and decide.

As compared to other theories, Nudge Theory is more sophisticated in its approach and is radically different from other ways of transitioning. This theory eliminates traditional change methods like punishment enforcement and direct instructions. One of the main benefits of this theory is that it takes into account the difference in feelings, opinions, and knowledge of people and also considers the reality of the situation as well as the characteristics of human nature and behavior. It thus minimizes resistance from employees of a company and is very well applied in several industries.

Bridges’ Transition Model

Bridges‘ transition model was developed by William Bridges who is a change consultant, and this theory came into the eye of the public after it was published in the book “Managing transitions”. The specialty of this model or theory is that it concentrates and focusses upon transition and not change as such. The difference between transition and change may be subtle, but it is important to understand it. Where transition on one hand is internal, change on the other is something that happens to people, even when they don’t realize it. Transition is something that happens to people when they are going through the change. Change can be instant, transition may take time.

The model focuses on three main stages that are given as follows:

  • The Neutral Zone: This is the stage of uncertainty, impatience, and confusion. This stage can be considered as the bridge between the old and the new when people are still attached to the old but trying to adapt to the new. This stage is associated with low morale and reduced productivity, and one may experience anxiety and skepticism as well when going through this stage. But despite this, the neutral zone may also include innovation, renewal and a burst of creativity.
  • Ending, Losing, and Letting Go: When people are first introduced to change, they may enter this first stage that is marked with resistance and emotional discomfort. Some of the emotions experienced at this stage include fear, resentment, anger, denial, sadness, frustration and most of all-disorientation. One has to realize that he/she is coming near to a certain end so as to accept new beginnings.
  • The New Beginning: When the neutral phase is passed through support and guidance, the stage of acceptance and energy enters the picture. At this level, people begin to embrace the change and understand its importance. They are beginning to build the skills needed to reach the new goals and may start to experience benefits of the change already. It is associated with high levels of energy, new commitment and a zest to learn.

Kübler-Ross Five Stage Model

The Kübler-Ross five stage model was developed by Elisabeth Kübler-Ross after she pursued her research on the dying and death. This model is also thus known as the Grief Model as it talks about the various emotional states and stages a person goes through when he/she discovers that he/she may be nearing their end. The model can also be applied to other life situations such as loss of job, changes in work and other less serious health conditions. The model helps to understand and deal with personal trauma and has been widely accepted worldwide. The following are the various stages that are associated with the Kübler-Ross model:

Anger: When the news actually gets absorbed, then the first reaction is usually that of anger. The denial converts into anger when one realizes that the change will actually affect them and is for real. One starts looking for someone to blame during this stage. For different people, there can be different ways of directing anger.

Denial: Denial is the first stage of the model and is a stage when one is unable to accept the news. It is like a buffer or defense that a person tends to create due to the inability to absorb the news. One may experience shock as well as a sense of numbness during this stage and this happens because every person shows resistance towards change and may not want to believe what is happening.

Bargaining: The next step or stage involves bargaining so as to avail the best possible solution out of the situation or circumstance. Bargaining is a way for people to avoid ending up with the worst-case scenario and is a natural reaction to avoid the extreme change.

Depression: When one realizes that bargaining isn’t working, he/she may end up getting depressed and may lose all faith. This is the phase when one is not bothered by anything and moves into a sad and hopeless state of mind. There are many ways to observe or identify depression and some of them include low energy, non-commitment, low motivation and lack of any kind of excitement or happiness.

Acceptance: When one realizes that there is no point in being depressed or fighting change, he/she may finally accept what is happening and may begin to resign to it. There are different ways in people handle this stage. While some may begin to explore the options left with them to make the most of the situation, others may just feel that no option is left for them and may just resign to destiny.