zenrunner

Lippitt’s phases of change theory

In Project management on September 24, 2008 at 9:20 pm

I have just finished a project that had a significant organisational change management component. In short, things did not go so well.

I have started learning more about change management and over the coming posts will summarise, very briefly, learning that I feel is suitable for projects that have a significant organisational change management component. To start with here is my take on Lippitt’s phases of change theory

Lippitt, Watson, and Westley (1958) propose a seven-step theory that focuses on the role of the change agent throughout the evolution of the change. The seven steps are:

  1. Diagnose the problem
  2. Assess the motivation and capacity for change
  3. Assess the resources and motivation of the change agent. This includes the change agent’s commitment to change, power, and stamina.
  4. Define progressive stages of change
  5. Ensure the roles and responsibilities of changes agents are clear and understood. Examples of roles include the motivator, facilitator, and subject matter expert
  6. Maintain the change through communication, feedback, and group coordination.
  7. Gradually remove the change agents from relationship, as the change becomes part of the organisational culture.

I like this theory from a project perspective because it gives you a larger and more effective voice within the organisation; that is, you have key players within the organisation driving and supporting the change as opposed to those ‘project people’ trying to get us to do things differently when we are happy with the way we do things now. This is also an empowering process for the change agents.

To be successful you must be confident that organisation has the motivation and capacity for change and you must have the ‘right’ change agents.

We often assume the motivation and capacity for change and strangely, senior management often make this assumption when they can be most change resistant.

You will often know who the ‘right’ change agents are. Securing them for your project can be a completely new ball game. At a minimum, you must obtain buy-in from the change agent, formal approval from their manager, and a plan to manage project versus operational time including integration back into the organisation at the completion of the project.

I am interested to hear if anyone has successfully used Lippitt’s phases of change theory in a project.

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