Managing the Migration to the Internet Protocol of the Future
Kurt Lewin was a social-psychologist who came up with his Change Management Model in the 1950s. (Mind Tools, 2009; Syque, 2009). Lewin recognized three stages of change, which are still widely used today: unfreeze, transition, and freezing (often misquoted as “refreezing” (Syque, 2009; Lewin, 1947a). The majority of people and organizations tend to stay within certain safe zones and is hesitant of change. These people tend to become comfortable in this unchanging environment and become uncomfortable when any change occurs, even if it is a minor one. In order to overcome this frozen state, the elements within the organization that are leading the change must initiate the “unfreezing” period, which is done through motivation and bypassing defense mechanisms. The transition period is when the change is occurring, less like taking a step and more like traveling on a journey. The transition period takes time because people traditionally do not like change. Another reason why this transition period (a.k.a. change period) can take a lengthy amount of time is the process that is being changed. This is relevant to the IT industry, when major technological advances are deployed into the operating network; it can take time to adapt to the new technologies. This is when leadership is critical for the change process to work. Another important part of this stage is the reassurance that this is good for the organization as well as the personnel. At the end of the transitional voyage, comes the next stage: freeze. This stage is often referred to as “refreezing” though that is a misquote of Lewin. During this stage, the mindset gets crystallized and the comfort level that was upset by the change is being returned to a normal and comfortable level. This is the stage where the company once again becomes stable (Syque, 2009; Lewin 1947a; Lewin 1947b).
As with pretty much anything in this world, there are disadvantages and benefits of Lewin's Change Management Model. Benefits include: that this is a simple and easily understood model for change; the model is done through steps; this is an efficient model that is used today (Mind Tools, 2009; Syque, 2009).
The main disadvantage of this model is that it is timely, but it must be considered that it is timely for any change to take place. Another disadvantage is that at the freezing period, there is worry that another change is coming, so there can be cases of change shock (Syque, 2009). This change shock causes employees to not be as efficient or effective in their jobs (Lewin, 1947a).
Another implementation strategy is Kotter's Eight Step Change Model. As the name implies, there are eight steps in this model.
Step One: Increase urgency for change
Step Two: Build a team for the change
Step Three: Construct the vision
Step Four: Communicate
Step Five: Empower
Step Six: Create short term goals
Step Seven: Be persistent
Step Eight: Make the change permanent (Kotter, 1996)
The first step is to create urgency for change. This means that convincing the employees that this change is necessary for the company to survive. This also means that it must be communicated that the change is achievable without any detrimental effects on jobs. The next step is to build a team for the change, which has to be of some respected members within the organization. The third step is to construct the vision, which will show clear direction to how the change will better the future of the company and their jobs. The fourth step is to communicate this vision. In order for the vision to work it must be fully understand by the employees, which means that it is necessary for the leaders of the change group to follow this vision. The fifth step is to empower the employees to execute the change. It is still important that the management follow the same guidelines as the employees. Short term goals aid the employees to accept the change by showing them progress. Positive reinforcement and rewarding employees is essential in this step. The seventh step is about persistence because change should continue even after the short term goals are met or the original plan for change will cease and die. The final step is to make the change permanent by fitting it into the company's culture and practices, such as promotion. (Kotter, 1996)
As with Lewin’s change model, Kotter's Eight Step Change Model has disadvantages and advantages. One advantage is that this is a step by step model, which is easy to follow. Another is that it does not focus on the change itself, but rather the acceptance and preparedness for this change, which makes it an easier transition. One disadvantage is that steps cannot be skipped or the change process will completely fail. Also, change initiated and deployed under this model will take a lengthy amount of time. (Kotter, 1996)
Those are just two approaches to change management; obviously it should fall to the persons in charge of managing the change migration to find a solution that would suit their particular organization best.
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Status: 13. November 2013