Models in Change Management and their Role in your Organisation

Change in organisations is inevitable. Most businesses today are in a constant state of flux as they respond to their ever-changing external environments – from the economy through to technological advancements. This leads to change in processes, management structure, systems, strategies, raw materials, products, environment and uses of technology, among others.

For these changes to be successfully dealt with, a strong change management strategy needs to be developed and properly executed. There are various models in change management to guide these change management strategies.

But first, what exactly is change management?


Change management is the process that guides how organisations prepare, equip and support themselves to effectively adopt change within an organisation – be it a change in process, cultural change, structural change or technological change

Decades of research has gone into change management to provide a structured approach for supporting the individuals in an organisation to move towards the change. While all changes are unique and each organisation is different, there are overarching principles that can guide the change process.

Change management terminology

By defining change management, we also need to highlight specific terminology used within this subject and how they interlink.

Change Management Models: Specific models that have been developed to assist to best manage change within an organisation. Most of these models offer supporting change processes that you can apply to your organisation.

Change Management Processes: A sequence of change management steps that take the change from inception through to execution.

Change Management Plans: Typically created during the change management process, to support a project that delivers a change. These plans should highlight potential resistance to the change and how to combat it.

There are three levels of change management: individual change management, organisational change management and enterprise change management.

Individual change management focuses more on the employees as individuals, drawing influence from disciplines like psychology and neuroscience.

Organisational change management provides steps and actions to take at the project level to support the many employees that are impacted by the change.

Enterprise change management on the other hand focuses on the organisational core competency. Meaning how to embed effective change management into an organisation’s roles, structures, processes, projects and leadership competencies.


So, why should you be concerned about change management in your organisation?

Well, because change affects an organisation’s most important assets: its people. Losing employees is a costly process, not just in terms of financial costs but in terms of time lost and organisational knowledge departing with them. Cultural change along with changes in roles, processes and management structures can be triggers for unhappy employees.

Managing change to ensure that all employees are taken into consideration is the key to keeping everyone happy and onboard throughout the change process. Managing the change is usually more involved than implementing the change itself – this is where effective leadership needs to come into play.

The role of leaders, within the change management process, is to understand that change is a development with a direction rather than an end destination. By helping employees better understand change, you create a workplace that is more open-minded and open to change. Successful change in today’s economy is to design an organisation that enables continuous adaptation to an ever-changing environment

Download our FREE GUIDE: “6 Steps to Employing a Change Management Strategy with a Risk-based Approach” and learn more about adopting an effective change management strategy for your organisation.


If a universal change management approach was applied to all changes, it would likely end up stifling the change with over-engineered processes. Various models in change management have been created to describe change and outline various steps to follow in the process. The different models are used for different change implementations, though each can help change managers analyse, plan and execute change.

  1.  Lewin’s change management model

    This is the simplest, and perhaps most powerful, change management model. While it was developed in the 1940s, its simple and effective structure keeps it relevant in today’s climate. The model describes change in three steps: unfreezing, changing and refreezing.

    A team must first ‘unfreeze’ their current processes and perceptions in preparation for the change. Then, with a clean slate, the team needs to implement the changes – clear and concise communication is important both during and after deployment.  Lastly, it’s time to ‘refreeze’ and carry on with the new process. This change management model simply states that in order to fit into a new structure/process, a team needs to completely move away from the old one.

  2.  ADKAR model

    The ADKAR model is an acronym for Awareness, Desire, Knowledge, Ability and Reinforcement. It is a people-focused approach to change management, helping to facilitate change on an individual level. The model helps individuals process change through clearly defined stages that enable them to both understand and accept the changes.

  3. Kotter’s 8-step change model

    Kotter’s model is also more people-focused in its approach. The change management steps outlined in the model turns possible resistant employees into receptive employees through trust, transparency and teamwork. The eight steps include:

    1. Create a sense of urgency.
    2. Build a strong coalition.
    3. Form a strategic vision.
    4. Get everyone’s buy-in.
    5. Enable action by removing barriers.
    6. Generate short-term wins.
    7. Sustain acceleration.
    8. Institute change.

  4. Kubler-Ross change curve

    Widely known as the five stages of grief, the Kubler-Ross change curve shows the various stages that people go through when processing a change in general. Organisations can use this as a change management model to better anticipate how employees will react to the change. The five stages include denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance.


Successful changes within organisations start with knowing exactly what needs to be changed and why it needs to be changed. The change initiators need to present a solid case for the change, making sure to get all stakeholders on board and in agreement that the change is aligned with the business goals and objectives. From there, a change management plan can be created to ensure that the key objectives of the change are included.

The plan to initialize the change should filter down to each hierarchy within the organisation. Middle management needs to be mobilized to drive the change throughout, ensuring that employees grasp their role in implementing the changes. This should be driven through constant and clear communication of the vision and strategy. There can never be too much communication.

It is important to then reinforce the change and monitor results to create accountability while rewarding and celebrating employees that have done well. Anticipate any resistance to change from the beginning and develop a strategy to get all employees onboard. Selecting one of the models in change management can assist with outlining the change management tools and steps for individuals and teams in the organisation to adopt.

Change Management is a topic that is applicable to all ISO standards and, whilst document control is a basic area that receives focus, the new ISO standards look more broadly for planned and controlled change to processes, management structure, raw materials, products, circumstances, environment, etc.

Are you looking for ways to better deal with ever-changing industries and environments? Download our FREE GUIDE: “6 Steps to Employing a Change Management Strategy with a Risk-based Approach”. This will take you through the process of creating a workplace that is more receptive to change, as well as give you tips on effectively adopting a change management strategy for your organisation.

Wynleigh International Certification Services understands the importance of effective change management and offer highly valued certification services based on our experience, knowledge and expertise in the field. The Risk Assurance aspect of our services means improved assurance for your stakeholders.

We understand that quality is at the top of your priorities, which is why our certification scheme delivers a significantly higher value proposition. Contact us on +27 (0) 31 941 4790 or by email on

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