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Change management strategies

In the world of social enterprise, change is often the only constant.

Social entrepreneurs must therefore equip themselves to manage and lead through periods of transition and transformation, whether these are caused by changes in the economic or political climate, or by necessities internal to the organisation.

There are several prominent models of change management that you can use to guide this process. You can read about each of them in greater detail in the linked resources at the end of the article.

Lewin’s Three-Stage Model

Social psychologist Kurt Lewin’s model of change management identifies three key stages in this process:

  1. Unfreeze: Overcoming the inertia of the status quo to critically examine present ways of working
  2. Change: Transitioning to new structures, methods, and behaviors
  3. Freeze: Re-establishing and stabilizing normal patterns of work with new processes in place

The Deming Cycle

The Deming Cycle, named for W. Edwards Deming and also sometimes referred to as PDSA or PDCA, is a continuous process that should repeat many times in the life of an organisation:

  1. Plan: Think ahead about the necessary or desired changes; set clear objectives and measures of success; try to predict outcomes, both positive and negative
  2. Do: Implement the plan; take small, controlled steps and monitor the outcomes
  3. Study (or Check): Analyse the outcomes of the actions taken; identify successes and areas for improvement
  4. Act: Institute the changes, including any modification in goals or processes developed in the previous steps

Kotter’s Eight-Step Process

Refining the stages discussed above, Harvard Business School Professor Emeritus John Kotter, who now runs Kotter International, has outlined the following eight steps for leading successful change:

  1. Create a sense of urgency
  2. Build the guiding coalition
  3. Form a strategic vision and initiatives
  4. Enlist a volunteer army
  5. Enable action by removing barriers
  6. Generate short-term wins
  7. Sustain acceleration
  8. Institute change

CIPD Guidance

The Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD), working with the University of Bath, have researched and proposed principles of change management falling under three themes:

  1. Designing the transformation: analysing the context to design strategies that work with the organisation’s culture and overcome likely roadblocks; promotion of radical change through discussion and debate at top levels

  2. Techniques for building understanding: creating purposeful instability and ambiguity to arouse critical engagement; using narratives, conversations, metaphors and physical representations to transform rhetoric into action

  3. Managing the transformation: Using relational leadership to build trust, dialogue, and positive momentum; taking criticism as constructive feedback

Your Turn

Look back at the Social Enterprise Diagnosis activity we completed in Week 1, and reflect on some of the weaknesses you identified. Select one of your weaknesses and think about how you might apply one of the change models discussed in this article to improve in that area. Please share your results with other learners in the comments below.

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This article is from the free online course:

Social Enterprise: Growing a Sustainable Business

Middlesex University Business School