Leading Change Isn’t About the Model

/Leading Change Isn’t About the Model

Leading Change Isn’t About the Model

There is no shortage of change models being pushed by authors and consultants. Each claims their supporters and detractors. I have one as well. It is the latest iteration of a model I developed and began using and presenting in 1989.


Twice in the past two weeks perspective clients have asked if I used a well-known change model that they preferred. The message in both cases was that anyone who was serious about change leadership should be using the approach that they had adopted. And, both seemed a little miffed when I explained that I had been using and presenting my model five to seven years before their preferred model was published.

So what was this magic methodology?

It doesn’t exist. Each of these organizations had bought into a different well-known model as the only effective way to lead a change.

The elements contained in one model are contained in the other. Both have all the elements contained in my model. And, all can be linked back to the writing of Kurt Lewin in the 1950’s. In fact, Lewin’s writing on Field Theory even influenced the philosophical teachings of Yoda in “Star Wars.”

Despite all of the hoopla over change models, the fact remains that over 70 percent of change efforts fail to deliver their desired result. There is no definitive research that suggests the superiority of one model over another. The obvious deduction is that the success of any change effort has much less to do with the model and much more to do with the care leaders take in using it to influence change.

If you like my model, please use it (with credit of course). If another model appeals to you, use that one. Or, you can make up your own – just make sure that you acknowledge the work of Kurt Lewin.

Most important, remember that at the end of the day your change is most likely to succeed if leaders actively and consistently:

  • Build a sense of urgency and support
  • Provide the time, tools, and skills to make sure the change is done right
  • Create ownership and buy-in from others
  • Communicate and pay attention to the results that they want
  • Make the future come alive for others

It’s not complex. It is the hard work of leading change.