Change Management Models:

choosing the right guide for your organizational transformation


From sustainability ambitions and technological advancements (hello AI), to new ways of working. It’s been quite a turbulent couple of years for companies.

In fact, I bet you won’t be able to find a Top 100 organization that hasn’t been through at least one big transformation in the past decade.

As companies are getting familiar with change management, they are increasingly hiring (fixed or interim) change managers to guide this process. But what ables them to support the organization and all the stakeholders through the transformation? How do they do this? With change management models!

Yes, almost 70% of change managers make use of formal change management methodologies. Why? While organizations are different, people – and the ways in which people respond to change – are actually quite predictable.

So why reinvent the wheel, when there are a handful of proven change management models that tell you exactly which steps to take in order to be successful? Especially when the stakes are high and the risks of skipping a step are ever-present.

This page serves as an introduction into the 6 change management models every change expert should know. But first, let’s start with the basics!

What are Change Management Models?

In order to define Change Management Models, we have to go back to the mid-20th century. The time when scholars and practitioners began to recognize the importance of managing change in a structured manner.

In the 1940s, Kurt Lewin introduced the “unfreeze-change-refreeze” model (which we will discuss at more length). Lewin’s model received positive responses from scholars and practitioners at the time, as it provided a structured approach to managing change.

It highlighted the need to create a sense of urgency and overcome resistance to change by addressing the existing status quo.

Since then, various change management models have emerged, each offering its own unique perspective and approach. At their core, change management models aim to facilitate successful change by providing a roadmap of sequential steps or phases.

But, which one should you choose?

6 Change Management Models you should consider

All of the change management models below aim to facilitate successful change initiatives by addressing resistance, aligning stakeholders, and supporting individuals through the process.  

But each model has its unique focus and methodology. And will have different outcomes depending on the organization and the specific transformation that needs to take place.

So, if you are new to change management models or not sure which one to choose, you’ve come to the right place! At SPRING TODAY, we have over 20 years of experience, working with different organizations and matching them to passionate change experts.

These are what we consider the 6 must-have change management models that every change expert should have in their toolbox:

Lewin’s Change Management Model 

The ADKAR Change Management Model


Kübler-Ross Change Curve

McKinsey 7-S

The Six Batteries of Change

Below, we will give you a clear and concise introduction on each of these AND a recommendation as to which change management model to choose depending on your situation.

Choosing the right Change Model
depends on your organization and the change initiative

Lewin’s Change Management Model: unfreeze, change, refreeze 

Sorry to disappoint you, but we are not talking about ice cream in the summer. 

Instead, Lewin’s model emphasizes the importance of unfreezing existing behaviors, implementing desired changes, and then refreezing the new behaviors.

Read more about Lewin’s Change Management Model.

Kotter’s 8-Step Change Model: from creating urgency to celebrating wins 

Kotter’s model provides a step-by-step approach for successful change implementation.  These steps include everything from creating a sense of urgency to anchoring the changes in the culture of the organization. 

Read more about Kotter’s 8-Step Change Model. 

ADKAR Model: individualizing change management


ADKAR stands for Awareness, Desire, Knowledge, Ability, and Reinforcement and focuses on individual change. So, by using this model, you address the barriers individuals face during the change process: 

Read more about the ADKAR Model.

The Kübler-Ross Change Curve: tapping into emotions

The Kübler-Ross Change Curve – also known as the Change Curve or the Transition Curve – describes the emotional stages individuals typically experience during a major change or transition. 

Read more about the Kübler-Ross Change Curve.

McKinsey 7-S Model: using the company’s internal design as a framework 

The McKinsey 7-S Model is a framework that helps organizations assess and align seven interdependent elements to improve overall performance. It highlights the importance of considering multiple dimensions of an organization when planning and managing change.

The model emphasizes that all these elements should be interconnected and aligned to achieve organizational effectiveness. For example, a change in strategy may require a corresponding change in structure, systems, ánd skills! 

Read more about McKinsey 7-S Model.

The Six Batteries of Change: fuel up your organization 

The Six Batteries of Change (De Prins, Letens & Verweire) is a change management model that focuses on the key drivers of successful change within organizations. 

This model identifies six “batteries” that need to be fully charged and addressed to enable change and transformation in organizations.

Read more about The Six Batteries of Change.

How do you know if the Change Management Model was successful?

Congratulations! You have chosen and implemented a change management model. But how do you know if it was successful? Determining the success of a change management model depends on several factors as well as the type of transformation.

Here are three common ways you can estimate the success of a change initiative:

Do not be afraid to gather stakeholder feedback

Collecting feedback from key stakeholders, including employees, managers, and customers, is crucial. Surveys, interviews, focus groups, or informal discussions can provide insights into their perceptions of the change and its impact. Positive feedback, increased satisfaction levels, and supportive sentiments are indications of successful change implementation.

Measure the adoption and sustained use

The successful adoption and sustained use of new processes, systems, or behaviors by employees are strong indicators of success. Monitoring whether employees have embraced and integrated the changes into their daily routines and work practices, can help determine the effectiveness of the implemented model.

Calculate the financial impact of the transformation

Organizations can evaluate the financial impact of the change by analyzing relevant indicators. This may include cost savings, increased revenue, improved profitability, or other financial metrics tied to the change objectives. In the end, your board will always be looking for a positive ROI.

Beyond Change Management Models

Of course, change management is much more than just picking the right model and executing on it. In the end, these are just the tools in your toolbox. Yes, change models can provide direction, but you’ll still be steering the ship. 

This also includes leveraging the sensitivities of your organization and your personal skills  to successfully manage a change initiative. As well as working with models to enhance the organizational, team and individual development of your people. 

Using an integrated approach is a necessity for successful change. 

Not sure yet which model to choose for your change initiative? SPRING TODAY is here to help. Let’s connect and make your organization fit for the future!