Change & Transitions — Overview

Craft Building Series #25 — How To Lead, Process and Understand Shifts

Author: Sean Moffitt, Grey Swan Guild Founder

Turn and face the strange
Don’t tell them to grow up and out of it
Turn and face the strange
Where’s your shame?
You’ve left us up to our necks in it
Time may change me
But you can’t trace time — David B

Let’s talk about change. After all there are three certainties in life — death, taxes and change.

No matter what you might call it: change management, business transformation, business process reengineering, leadership renewal & development, culture shift, performance management, strategic planning, turnaround management, personal growth … in modern professional and personal life, we need to transform or get stuck.

Read the full post or watch our Craft-bulding LinkedIn Live Edition #25 discussion between myself and Grey Swan Guild member and change guru Louise Mowbray at the bottom of this post below.

Change & Transition Context

The Backdrop — A Global Pandemic

Each decade has its own defining huge change:

  • 1910s — WW I , the Spanish Flu and The Assembly Line
  • 1920 — The Roaring 20s, the Wall Street Crash and The Radio Decade
  • 1930 —Political Extremism & European Unrest, The Depression & The New Deal and Flight
  • 1940s — WWII, the Baby Boom and The Atomic Age
  • 1950s — The Cold War, the TV Era and The Consumer Age (Mass Consumption/Production)
  • 1960s — Vietnam, Civil Rights & The Space Age
  • 1970s — The Energy Crisis, Home Appliances & Electronics Age
  • 1980s — Berlin Wall Coming Down/The Fall of the Iron Curtain, Rise of Conservatism & The Computer
  • 1990s — Silicon Valley/The Internet, Drug Use and Y2K & the Boom & Bust
  • 2000s -9/11, The War on Terror, Banking Crisis and the Mobile Decade
  • 2010s — Polarization, Climate Urgency and the Social Media Decade

We’ve now had this decade’s big change, perhaps a generation-defining one.

  • 2020s — the Global Coronavirus Pandemic, ?? and ?? (consult our 21 Grey Swans as future candidates)


The Subtle Difference Between Change & Transition

The Duality of Change

We want it, we just don’t want it to affect us:


Change in Organizations

The Role of Culture & Social Influences is Integral

Some burning five questions on change and transition

  • what allows change to actually stick?
  • has the pandemic made us more ready for constant change?
  • are we leaving people behind with our change?
  • will we attribute our change 10 years from now back to these pandemic years?
  • can we educate young and old alike on being adaptive and resilient to change or does this change readiness rest inside you?

The Complexity of Change — An Interconnected Jigsaw:

Change is a complex thing inside organizations with vision, skills, incentives, resources and action plans all part of the five legged easel. Changing one without changing the others leads to confusion, anxiety, resistance, frustration and false starts (courtesy Lippitt-Knoster Model of Managing Change).

Change in the Organization:

Top 10 Reasons Why Organizations Change:

  • Reaction to Crisis
  • Addressing Performance Gaps
  • Impact of New Technology
  • Identifying Potential, Opportunity & Avenues for Growth
  • Reaction to Internal & External Pressures & Influences
  • Mergers, Acquisitions & Changes to Company Direction, Ownership and/or Leadership
  • Change for the Sake of Change — showing busy-ness, windows for optimism and hope, occasional smoke screens
  • Something Sounds Good — momentum, bandwagon effects, headline-stealing news and internal biases (see 225 of them listed here)
  • Competitive Moves/Counter-Moves — industry & cross-industry dynamics
  • Planned Abandonment — reconciling that there is no going back on moves, burning bridges behind them and transitioning from what was (e.g. old business model, old technology, old product line, old org. structures)

Change in the Individual:

Top Eleven Reasons Why People Change:

  • Change in Routines (and default procedures/processes)
  • Reactions — social reinforcements/expectations and interpersonal dynamics
  • Roles & Identity Shifts (e.g. demographic stage, economic, status, move)
  • Relationships & Crowd Instincts — direct change with close relationships, indirect change with crowd movements
  • Reflections and Reappraisal — time, space and opportunity for reconsidering existing state
  • One Behavior At a Time/Immediacy — breaking change down into smaller step and time components, putting multiple small steps in combination
  • Making it Sticky — making change measurable & monitorable, providing positive reinforcement loop. seeing change manifest itself concretely
  • Subtracting, not just adding — providing clarity and focus
  • Carrot Rewards and Stick Disincentives — extrinsic, intrinsic and explicit motivator and limiters
  • Guidance & Time — role models, coaching, tools, resources and prolonged period of work

Satisfaction with Change:

Technology, Resources, Methodology and Leadership

Who is Holding Change Back in Companies?

Fifteen+ (15+) Different Approaches to Change

Each of these approaches have different emphasis on cultural, structural, procedural and individual aspects of change. All of these models (to a greater or lesser extent) acknowledge the change success factors of:

a) Define measurable stakeholder aims, b) Integration of efforts, c) Creating business cases, d) Navigation and steps/process involved, e) Monitor assumptions, risks& dependencies, f) Human and People Components, g) Costs, return on investment and dis-benefits h) Cultural issues, i) Creating Welcoming Environments, j) Effective communication k) Supportive
education, training and/or skills, l) Executive stewardship and sponsorship, m) Assumed counter resistance from the employees of companies, n) need for eventual alignment, o) Rewards for success> penalties for failure, p) Counselling & intervention required, q) Monitoring implementation and fine-tuning, r) Positivity and finding the bright spots, s) Flexibility, choice and providing good options and t) Celebration of change outcomes.

— —

I. ADKAR — step-by-step sequential and bottom-up approach to establishing a plan and vision organization wide

  • Invented: Jeff Hiatt in 1996, Prosci
  • Pros: practical, out of the box, field-tested, determines change readiness, individual/small team focus, assessment & corrections, gives people confidence in changes ahead
  • Cons: prescriptive, not for all business change particularly large scale efforts, are all change issue sequential in nature? the role of leadership is left out

II. McKinsey 7S Model — performance-based change model of seven key internal factors addressing larger company change that need to align elements and departments

  • Invented: late 1970s by Tom Peters and Robert Waterman (McKinsey)
  • Pros: complete and adaptable for a wide variety of change, great for multi-department change, strategic top-down direction of change facilitated, includes hard apsects (Strategy, Structure, System) and soft aspects (Shared Values, Staff, Style, Skills) of change, no blindspots, facilitates tracking, balance — each variable given equal weight, and interactions between elements is heavily explored
  • Cons: only focused on internal factors, static (not dynamic), and doesn’t address overall organization effectiveness and performance, does not provide roadmap steps

III. Lewin’s Change Model — change path-driven, three-step model, founded on behavior psychological principles for implementing change

  • Invented: Psychologist Kurt Lewin in 1936
  • Pros: simple and understandable, focus on “big boulders” to clear, common sense, good in diagnosing old patterns or overlooked problems that hold people and companies back, rooted in common human behaviors, includes force-field analysis, and spreads out change over time to provide adequate support & training
  • Cons: Not detailed, too rigid, combative> nurturing, more focused on explaining than harnessing change in forces to combat resistance, can be slow, and requires full senior management adoption

IV. Kotter Eight Step Change Model — evidenced -based, 8-step model that provides ability for initiating, managing, and sustaining change with people in mind

  • Invented: John Kotter, Harvard Business School in 1995
  • Pros: Creates urgency for change and small wins, focuses on getting employees on board and forming coalitions, tips for effective communication/morale building, preparing employees for changes, creates path and vision, and high importance on values of trust, transparency, and teamwork
  • Cons: Top-down and spends comparative little time on feedback, lacks some level of executional detail and all change issues may not follow the same eight step sequence

V. Kubler-Ross Change Curve — applies how people process change in general to the organizational setting, adopted/modified from the five stages of grief, values preparation for expected reactions to change

  • Invented: Psychiatrist Elisabeth Kubler-Ross in 1969
  • Pros: Focus on employee resistance, helps ease bad feelings and emotional impact, process leads to buy-in and productivity, applicable to many situations and changes, industry-agnostic, easy to understand, clear steps, and provides empathy to stakeholders of change
  • Cons: Individual-focused, not one-size-fits-all, tough to lead, all people don’t spend the same amount of time or sequence as a reaction to change, explains reactions not always applicable, connections between stages is loose, and used to supplement other models — not be the controlling change architecture

VI. Six Seconds Change MAP — an EQ structure for organizational, team, and individual transformation integrating the latest research on change and putting people (rational and emotional) at the center of change

  • Invented: Joshua Freedman (Six Seconds), 2010
  • Pros: Emotional intelligence component, outer ring cycle of engagement and inner ring cycle of resistance are novel components, sequential and iterative in nature, and syncing of resistance with prescription
  • Cons: Better dealing with specific situations than overall business, broadly applicable and therefore may lack depth of insight on each component, and more of a coaching than strategy/guidance tool

VII. Nadler-Tushman Congruence Model— views organizations as interacting components (people, work, culture, structure) that require harmony and fit with one another, and link inputs to outputs

  • Invented: Early 1980s by organizational theorists David A. Nadler and Michael L. Tushman
  • Pros: deals with friction between personal and organizational values, provides context for team/department activities with big picture in mind, rigorous but flexible framework, classifies observations, helps organizations understand impact of change management on organizational performance, and bridges the interactions between social & personal with technology & operations
  • Cons: the more complex an organization, the longer and more expensive the process, absence of a structure may lead to grasping for solutions for the lack of fit & problems raised, sometimes tension is good and fit isn’t required, struggles with the importance of big fit challenges vs. small fit red herrings, too complex for smaller startups and scaleups, and some claim too internally focused

VIII. Moore’s Chasm Jumping Model —a model that understands the context of time, communication channels, and its impact on totally different but affected participants, power in establishing different change adopter groups (Innovators, Early Adopters, Early Majority, Late Majority and Laggards)

  • Invented: In 1991 by organizational theorists Geoffrey Moore, building on earlier works of Everett Rodgers.
  • Pros: placing people at the core of change thinking, all individuals are not alike -with different appetites for change, identification of first groups to introduce changes to is key, evidence-based — model is translatable across industries, groups and cultures, and embraces aspect and importance of time to have change snake through different populations
  • Cons: not great for quick changes that need to be imposed, may stereotype people into different categories, discounts the value of major intervention to accelerate people to the left of the curve, may be perceived as choosing favourites in change implementation, and resistance by late majority and laggards may entrench if coalesced as a final group

IX. Bridges Transition Model — people-centered change model that is focused more on the process than the result, with key objective being how employees adopt, buy-in and let go of the old and accept the new

  • Invented: In 1991, by change consultant William Bridges.
  • Pros: Focuses on transition not change or circumstances, acknowledges a neutral zone (productivity dip) that people need to get through before success happens, higher change acceptance when taking into account employee feelings, and value of coming to terms with the past
  • Cons: More of a guide than a cheeklist or detailed framework or roadmap, emotions and people are complex and different — not all teams and people act the same, and narrow scope — only dealing with the human aspects of change

X. OCEAN — Big Five Personality Traits — reducing 4,000 personality traits down to five core drivers — Openness “Is open to trying new experiences”, Conscientiousness “Is always thinking about others”, Extroversion “Is the centre of attention at a party”, Agreeableness “Is trusting of others” and Neuroticism “Is anxious about the future all the time”

  • Invented: Originally developed in 1949 by psychology professor D. W. Fiske and later expanded upon by other researchers including Norman (1967), Smith (1967), Goldberg (1981), and McCrae & Costa (1987).
  • Pros: Psychological underpinnings of change, use as a test to recruit, promote and appoint employees, strength is in application, can be used at a company, team and individual level, important leadership orientation, and can be further broken down (as seen by model visualized below)
  • Cons: Not a framework (but can be used in association with one), may omit important traits (e.g. moral character), fails to make causal explanations to human behavior, descriptive not predictive, self-reporting, and five factors have found to be not completely independent

XI. Johari Window — 2x2 change model based on trust & self-disclosure and soliciting feedback and uncovering what was previously “hidden” truths with feedback on the x-axis and exploration on the y-axis, goal is to maximize open areas among a team

  • Invented: Created by psychologists Joseph Luft and Harry Ingham in 1955
  • Pros: encourages giving and accepting constructive feedback, done well — establishes better, more trusting relationships, improves working relationships between teams, simple layout, reflects increasing emphasis on soft skills and communication in business, and can be foundational with flexibility to include other change models
  • Cons: practical concerns in how the model is used, not great for low trust or threatening environments, need strong facilitation, appropriate levels of disclosure differ by organization, cultural, gender and age-related sensitivities, useless if it does not lead to behavior change, and tough to establish company-wide

XII. Leavitt’s Diamond Model — interconnected and interdependent diamond shaped organizational change model with considerations for four core components — structure, task, technology and people

  • Invented: Developed in the early 1970s by the American professor and organisational psychologist Harold Leavitt.
  • Pros: integration and codependency of elements, helps to develop communications and training programs to bridge gaps, appropriate for organizational restructures and interrelated roles and tasks, considers work flow and supportive technology, comparison of current vs. desired future state, and popular with IT environments
  • Cons: does not take into account external environment or factors, skewed to in tech-dependent organizations, and does not provide pathways - more diagnosis-driven

XIII. Agile Change Management — an applied change management model that acts as direct response to the complex, cumbersome and slow traditional change approaches, endorses flexibility, iteration, rapid deployment of changes and emphasizes speed

  • Invented: Author and web developer Jason Little in 2014 but built on principles of Deming/bell labs of 1930s and continuous improvement/ Kaizen schools of 1970s and 1980s.
  • Pros: as its name implies -focused on impacting users quickly, addresses difference between successful installation & implementation, a staple of digital transformation, great for disruptive environments, scales across organziations, cross-functional motivations, people’s capacity and limits are addressed, responding to new information, having more conversation earlier, and letting go of “perfect”
  • Cons: can lead to planning chaos given wide range and iteration of experiments and unclear final destinations, requires decentralization of control and leadership, demands and needs full buy-in by all, requires full and transparent data from across company, and lacks strategic and planning orientation

XIV. Lean Change Management — applying lean startup/minimum viable product methodologies to change management with two cycles of design (insights, options and experiments) and implementation (prepare, introduce and review)

  • Invented: Consultants Jeff Anderson and Alexis Hui in 2010.
  • Pros: Popular with service and software business, define hypotheses, dynamic —validation and iteration of change, specificity, data & measurement focus, stakeholder-focused, highly visual/canvas based approach, adaptive > corrective change, align leadership goals with employee motivations, people affected by change co-create the change
  • Cons: leadership is asked to buy into a process vs. a plan, all or nothing endorsement — given philosophical difference tough to test drive lean change in a function/small division, discounts leader/user passion and commitment vs. feedback loop, and not always possible to build a testable prototype when it comes to a minimum viable “change management” concept

XV. Satir Change Management Model— replicated trends in how families experience change and how they also apply to business changes

  • Invented: Author and psychotherapist Virginia Satir in the 1970s and 1980s.
  • Pros: Tracks emotional progression through stages, predictive and helpful in preparation and response of change, assumes a level of chaos through change and pushing through it, addressed change abandonment due to resistance, confusion, and lack of communication, change plotted and graphed over time, and great for deadline-driven environments
  • Cons: not great at planning and executing change — does not help determine what changes need to be made, and does not provide lens to sustained change


Nudge Theory — more tips than an approach, but nudges and offering choice > telling someone, importance of touchpoints

PDCA Model (or Deming Change Model/Wheel) — short for “plan, do, check, act” — cyclical and iterative change management process focused on continuous improvement and the philosophical basis for many other change models

LaMarsh Change Management Model —five step, organized process of risk mitigation in adoption and the acceptance of new processes by those who will be affected by it most

Mauer Three Levels of Resistance Model — centers on what causes changes to fail and three critical levels of resistance -I don’t get it (information), I don’t like it (emotion), I don’t like you (confidence/trust)

Seven Dimensions of Culture (Trompenaars Cultural Dimensions ) — differentiating cultures based on their preferences in the following sven dimensions (Universalism vs. particularism, Individualism vs. communitarianism, Specific vs. diffuse, Neutral vs. affective, Achievement vs. ascription, Sequential time vs. synchronous time, Internal direction vs. external direction)

Kaizen — calls for change to be a continuous process rather than a one-time transition, focuses on waste, redundancy and incremental change

Burke-Litwin Model of Organizational Change — organizational change management diagnosis model, establishing cause-and-effect relationships, including 12 organizational elements including changes in the external environment and personal factors

Tuckman’s Forming-Storming-Norming-Performing model —a leadership-driven model that explains that as the team develops maturity and ability, relationships establish, and the leader changes leadership style (directing style, coaching, participation, delegation) enabling groups to fulfil their full potential

DICE Framework — BCG-built and endorsed change model that predict the future or success of change initiative; DICE stands for four critical change factors — Duration, Integrity, Commitment and Effort and help leadership to make the execution of their initiative in the right direction.

Iceberg Change Model — using well-harnessed analogy of iceberg to explain process and dynamics that go beyond quality, time and cost and focuses on barriers of change and how these barriers can be managed to ensure change to take place without causing any problem (the 90% that floats below the surface)

Culture Hacking — integrates Systems Thinking adaptation, and makes small interventions at the cultural operating systems of companies, seeing problems as opportunities to be solved

EASIER change model — checklist-based model of strong change management practice (envision, activate, support, implement, ensure, recognize)

Change Management Resources:

The Books:

The Websites:

Craft Building Series — Linkedin Live

Discussion between Sean Moffitt and Louise Mowbray.

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