Models of Change Leadership: Part 2

Posted by: Nigel Girling Post Date: 18th October 2017

This is the second part of our blog series on models of change leadership. In part one we looked at Kotter’s 8 Steps, the ADKAR model and Kubler-Ross’ Change Curve. Now we take a look at the three remaining areas theories: Kurt Lewin’s change model, Deming’s 14 Points and Roger’s Diffusion of Innovation.

Kurt Lewin’s change model

The oldest of the change models, Lewin’s simple but profound 3 stages can be seen to relate closely to ADKAR and Kotter’s original 8 steps.

Indeed, both of those model’s creators began by looking at earlier work, such as this model, and exploring contemporary challenges that necessitated further development of thinking.

The basis of Lewin’s model is as follows:

Before you can make a change, you need to loosen the bindings that hold the current paradigm in place.

Lewin focused on the status quo and what would have to change beforehand to enable a significant, sustainable shift to take place. It was here that Lewin defined his ‘Force-Field Analysis’ idea, whereby a leader can identify and quantify the forces acting either in favour of or against a planned change. Using this tool enables quick identification of issues that may need to be addressed before the change is possible. It also enables ‘what if?’ testing of possible actions and solutions to assess the chances of success before committing time and resources. Once conditions are suitable, the change should be easier to implement.

The final ‘refreeze’ stage surrounds the need to hold changes in place to allow them to stick and become a habitual part of business as usual.

It’s a simple model, but very worthy of a leader’s time and consideration.

Deming’s 14 Points

Developed by W Edwards Deming for a wider purpose than other models, his 14 points were the foundation of his roadmap for change. Developed by W Edwards Deming for a wider purpose than other models, his 14 points were the foundation of his roadmap for change.

Bill Deming was a founding father of the Total Quality Management movement in the 1980s and a major influence on the huge economic resurgence of Japan after WWII. His philosophy was that the reliance of industry on ‘quality control’ was tolerant of failure and encouraged the de-skilling and disengagement of operators, with expensive, damaging and far-reaching consequences. His 14 points are a set of quasi-commandments, demanding that leaders take responsibility for the performance and quality of work delivered by their people, give them back pride in their work and recognise their leadership role as inspirers, developers and supporters of their people. It’s important to recognise just how radical these suggestions were at the time and just how many of them have been adopted as basic principles in organisations since.

Deming’s 14 Points:

  1. Create constancy of purpose for improving products and services.
  2. Adopt the new philosophy.
  3. Cease dependence on inspection to achieve quality.
  4. End the practice of awarding business on price alone; instead, minimize total cost by working with a single supplier.
  5. Improve constantly and forever the processes of planning, production and service.
  6. Institute training on the job.
  7. Adopt and institute leadership.
  8. Drive out fear.
  9. Break down barriers between staff areas.
  10. Eliminate slogans, exhortations and targets for the workforce.
  11. Eliminate numerical quotas for the workforce and numerical goals for management.
  12. Remove barriers that rob people of pride of workmanship, and eliminate the annual rating or merit system.
  13. Institute a vigorous program of education and self-improvement for everyone.
  14. Put everybody in the company to work accomplishing the transformation.

As part of this thinking, Deming identified his ‘Plan/Do/Check/Act’ cycle of continuous improvement, used by thousands of organisations as a fundamental approach to identifying the need for change and monitoring both the effectiveness and the impact of actions.

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Rogers’ Diffusion of Innovations

As with Deming’s 14 points and the Kubler-Ross Curve, this model was not developed specifically for managing change but has been found useful by thousands of leaders in change programmes since. Everett Rogers coined the phrase and model in the 1962 book that bore the model’s name. This book has been updated to a 5th edition in 2003.

Diffusion of innovation theory

While not strictly a change model, the understanding that Rogers highlighted is very helpful when seeking to collate the ‘army of volunteers’ identified in Kotter’s revised 8 steps. The grouping of a population according to their propensity to adopt new ideas is a fundamental concept for marketers. It also shows a leader how to identify those most likely to be supportive of a change and those who will not be, in the early stages.

The names he gave to his classifications have become commonly used terms in new product development and marketing: Early Adopters, Late Majority and Laggards are all terms you will often see being applied to the adoption and acceptance of ‘innovations’. As an example, consider the people you know. Who were the first ones to get a 4k UHD TV? Who has a streaming service for films or the latest iPhone? Who is still using technology that is many years behind the latest developments? Who is first to try out a new restaurant or shop and who stoically continues to shop where they always did?

By their behaviour, people will indicate the Rogers group to which they mainly belong.

For the purposes of change, you need innovators and early adopters to support the change and help you to get some ‘quick wins’…. And then later the early majority to throw their weight behind the initiative to maintain momentum. It is wise, if planning a pilot or forming a think-tank, to choose your vanguard force from the ranks of known innovators and early adopters – especially those you (or others) consider to be ‘opinion formers’, who others may look to for an example.

Concluding thoughts

Change is all around, all-pervading and all there is. Building your resilience in general and to uncertainty is a wise move for any leader. If you haven’t ever completed a behavioural profile or assessment of emotional/social intelligence, this would be a good starting point. The effective change leader needs to be calm under pressure, mildly optimistic, comfortable with ambiguity and a good and engaging communicator. If you have all or even most of these, you’re well placed. If not, seek some mentoring and guidance. The stronger your (legitimate) self-confidence, the greater your resilience will typically be.

Darwin identified long ago that the key to the global dominance of homo sapiens as a species was not genius or divine providence, but adaptability. Develop your ability to adapt in the face of challenges and you’re heading in the right direction. As Maslow said, ‘when you only have a hammer, everything tends to look like a nail’ to indicate that you need a variety of tools and approaches. These are the bedrock of the ability to adapt. Build your toolkit and keep it up to date.

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