December 19,2018 Change Management

History of Change Management

History of Change Management

Early Change

The roots of change management stretch back to World War II and the mass mobilization of soldiers. As a result, this led to the study of management and later the effects that change makes. In 1948 Lester Coach and John French studied the motivational issues centered around change initiatives identifying behavioral resistance. Their work also defined the three types of change: planned, continuous, and transitional.


In the 1950s Kurt Lewin developed one of the first change models. The model consisted of three stages: unfreeze, change, and refreeze. In 1969 Elizabeth Kubler-Ross published her five stages of grief and pointed to the correlation that was mirrored with employees during the change management process. The 1990s brought on the advancement of globalization and General Electric was able to leverage successful change approaches taking advantage of a slower transitioning market. Their approach was so successful that they were able to turn it into a new consulting business.

Mechanical Change

With eighty years of practice, organizations continue to struggle with implementing change. Change theorist, John Kotter, projects that 70% of all change efforts fail. Because their failed efforts created environments of decreased morale, missed opportunities, and wasted resources. In retrospect, studies found that the model of reengineering the organization boom of the 1980s ignored people. The model actually made things worse. As practice and models have adjusted leaders know the change tools and theory, but are failing to apply the tools or involve employees in the change process. This practice has led to poor communication channels, not rewarding quick wins or change wins, and making it harder to change ingrained behaviors.

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