Kurt Lewin, Force Field Analysis and Change Management

The rate of change is not going to slow down anytime soon. If anything, competition in most industries will probably speed up even more in the next few decades”

 – John P. Kotter

In change management, two metaphors are used to describe the type of change that take place in organisation.

The calm waters metaphor characterizes the process of change as being like a ship crossing a calm sea, while the white-water rapids metaphor describes change that takes place in uncertain and dynamic environments.

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Kurt Lewin was German psychologist who has contributed a lot to field of organisational development. In area of change management, he came up with two concepts which are widely used today.

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First is the change process model, which is a good example of calm water metaphor. According to Lewin change comes in three processes- Unfreeze (reduce forces of status quo), Move (develop new attitudes) and Refreeze (reinforce new attitude)

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His second concept was that of Force field analysis. During change there are forces which support change and there are forces which oppose change, it only when pro change forces are stronger than forces opposing change that change process starts i.e. unfreeze state starts.

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Lewin also made significant contribution in areas like leadership, action research and group dynamics.

 

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