Change is a psychological obstacle for many companies. People think change is negative because it involves giving up your current best method. Consequently, strategies for creating change is very important. Kurt Lewin’s model of change describes a three point process (Lewin, 1947):
Unfreeze –> Change –> Freeze
Step one ‘Unfreezing’ is about accepting the idea that the necessity for the change is strong enough to move away form our current comfortable positions. The second step ‘Move’ is actually starting the process of implementing change, and finally the last step; ‘Freeze”, is where the new change is continued and becomes the new norm. Richard Branson adopted this model in the 1970’s.
Virgin was once a successful Record Mail-order business, however in January 1971 they came up against an unexpected obstacle – the post office workers went on strike. Virgin realised that they needed to ‘unfreeze’ since their “mail-order business was set to go bust: people couldn’t send us cheques; we couldn’t send out records. We had to do something” (Branson, 2007). The ‘change’ Branson implemented was to open a record shop, where they could continue their business without being dependant on the mail. The ‘freezing’ of the business was showed when the business had regained effectiveness and continued to open a further 100 megastores throughout the 1980’s, and 1990’s (‘Virgin Megastores’, 2015).
I can admittedly be reluctant to change. This week we had 6 people dropped into our hockey squad and consequently 6 players dropped out because our coach believed the influx of better players would help us win games. We immediately opposed this decision because we had to reshuffle positions on the pitch, subsequently changing the team dynamics. We consequently won our first game, proving that this was a positive change. This showed me that it can take time to continue the ‘freeze’ before the everyone accepts the new change.