Organisational Change Management Volume 1

Framework 59 Virginia Satir Change Process

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Change is a process, not an event. There is a need to understand the process and its sequence to improve our handling of implementing change.

We protect our status quo from perceived unnecessary change. At the same time we embrace change we control and resist change forced upon us.

Over time there are changes in our status of competency or productivity, ie competency starts out level, drops to near zero, then climbs the familiar s-curve.

This framework emphasises

i) change takes time

ii) move from competence to incompetence then back to competence

iii) start slowly picking up new competencies and as time passes this speeds up

iv) status quo is a temporary condition/paradigm

Sequence (see below diagram)

organisational development change management

Status quo (1)

This represents the sum total of all our past investments. The decision to move on from the status quo position depends on the level of dissatisfaction with the status quo. The status quo can be a motivator or obstacle to changing.

Foreign Element and Threat Analysis (2)

This is the event that triggers the change but is not necessarily the event that threatens the status quo. It can be an internal or external event.

(NB the definition for change and creativity are similar, ie doing things differently

People don't resist change; they resist being changed without their consent and/or when they have no control over the process)

Empowerment is a way to give as much control as possible to those who are undergoing the change. Empowered people are more willing to undertake the change journey, even wrenching change. Also empowerment is a way to internalize the change.

Part of empowerment is access to information, especially about the Foreign Element and its relationship to the Status Quo.

"...People resist change in order to protect their status quo from unnecessary change..."

Peter de Jager, 2010

We evaluate if the perceived Foreign Element is a threat or opportunity. Will it create a future that is acceptable or not, ie if we ignore the foreign element, what will the future be like? If it is unacceptable, then we accept that the change is necessary

Then we examine (by study, research and analysis) the range of responses to the Foreign Element

Doing a threat analysis creates ownership of a change, ie determining the need for a change and selecting how to do it.

Resistance (3)

Resistance, denial and rejection are linked as obstacles to change

Around 90% of any change problems are due to lack of information regarding the necessity for the change. Generally, once people have adequate information, they will support the change. Thus the need to spend time with those against the change

People's concerns about the change need to be handled

Denial (4)

Definition, ie refusing to accept that a change has occurred or using effective and efficient behaviours no longer suitable to the task.

Chaos (5)

Foreign element changes the competencies, ie new competencies are needed to handle the new situation

People fear being labeled as incompetent or perceived as incompetent. Yet with exponential change it is unreasonable to expect to be always competent.

Incompetency can be changed by training. It is a natural and temporary state when we face something new. It allows us to play, experiment and to make mistakes

Integration (6)

While feeling that you have finally achieved competence, you realise that you still have a way to go, ie finally feel that you have achieved the desired goal but overreact to some insignificant upset.

New Status Quo (7)

Reach a new level of competence

The ability to learn is one of our strongest talents and this helps in the change process.

Need to perceive that the act of learning is seen as an opportunity and not a threat. This is based on experience and mindset, ie how you see things

Implementing Change


Need to answer the following simple, personal, self-preserving questions, ie

"...How will it affect me? Will it destroy a way of life or just disrupt a sense of comfort? Will it threaten jobs or will it just be perceived as threatening jobs? Does it matter if it is a perception rather than reality..."

Peter de Jager, 2010

There are no guaranteed money-back solutions in implementing change

Your change strategy will depend upon the present situation, your past history, the desirable future and degree of difficulty in the journey.

It is important that the target audience gains some degree of control over the process while implementing the change


1. Understanding the Change

Need to be able to answer the following questions to understand the change

Why is the change necessary? (need to understand all the reasons for the change)

What/who is the foreign element? (This will disrupt the status quo and needs to be identified correctly, ie what is the real agenda?)

What happens if we don't change? (What are the consequences of doing nothing? How certain are we of the consequences? Once people understand the real necessity to change, they are more accepting of the change.

Who is affected by the change? (Identifying precisely who the change will impact on is crucial to any change project, ie who will the change affect? Why should they change? What are the specific issues relevant to different stakeholders affected by the change? Are they convinced that the change will have an impact on them? Some people live under a belief that the change will not impact on them personally)

When will the change take place? (implementation of change needs a deadline, priority, budget, etc; the more imminent, the more people can relate and respond to it)

Why now? (What forces the change to need to happen now rather than later on? Why is it important to act now? Why didn't we act earlier? The answers to these questions provide justification, or not, for the change.)

2. Establish rapport

Need to sell the change. Thus people like to buy from people they like, trust, etc. It is an exercise in diplomacy!!!!!

Don't have all the answers (change agents should not dictate the solutions but encourage ownership by users, ie change owned by the users has a better chance of success than one forced on users)

Support empowerment (empowerment gives the target audience the option to make decisions; the greater the decision-making is in hands of the target audience, the greater the sense of ownership; change agents have the responsibility to create this empowerment environment, ie supply information, facilitate conversations, etc)

Don't ask for 'buy-in' (change agents don't give solutions as this will work against empowerment)

Seek out their vision (target audience needs to have ownership of where they are heading; change is resisted if we feel powerless)

Identify influence leaders, early adopters & resistors (need to get influencers on side as other look to them for guidance; focus on them and less on other groups like innovators, resistors)

Change thinking: Change agent .vs. inflictor of change (as a change agent, we need to appreciate people's concern about leaving the status quo behind; this will reduce people's reluctance to leave the status quo

3. Understand status quo

To create something new, ie change, involves an act of destruction, ie replacing the status quo; but need to respect the existing status quo.

How long did it take to establish? (the older the status quo, the more difficult to remove, ie more inertia has accumulated with more emotional investment)

What investment/sacrifice did people make to achieve it? (the more people have invested in the past, eg time, money, etc, the harder to change, ie to invest in the future)

How many people subscribe to it? (how widely is it shared? Is it part of the corporate culture, or just confined to the local/department/region?)

What values does it encompass? (is it part of the personal values/belief? Culture can be difficult to identify until you examine the relationships; it is most visible when you try to change it.

What mythologies support it? (stories re-enforce culture; need to address the stories)

Who are the heroes & heroines? (who are the people over the years who have stories about them ingrained in the culture? Need to connect with these stories)

4. Create desire to change

The status quo can lull us into a false sense of security and we need to be awakened from out of our slumber, ie

"...a body at rest will remain at rest until acted upon by an outside force..."

Peter de Jager, 2010

What problems exist in the status quo? (every status quo has imperfections, like annoyances, dissatisfactions, etc that create points of leverage for change, ie what are the causes of this dissatisfaction? Most target audiences know the answers to these questions)

What are the alternatives? (as there is more than one way to do things, look for alternatives; why did we chose this current status quo or did it just happen; what other options are suitable?)

What are the personal benefits to changing? (WIIFM; ask people to name personal benefits of the current status quo and new situation)

What problems would the change solve? (will the proposed change solve existing problems? How? If not, why not? List benefits of change)

What core values would change reinforce? (what will the change reinforce? ie stay the same; include trivial things; this is very powerful as people like stability)

What opportunities would change create? (change is more than escaping the status quo, it is about creating new opportunities; need to inform, etc the target audience of these opportunities; communicate what is going on and why)

How much should you communicate? (the task of communicating never ends, ie

"...It's difficult to communicate 'enough' during change. It's impossible to communicate 'too much..."

Peter de Jager, 2010

5. Reinforce new behaviours

When doing something new it takes a while to get it right, ie you are learning what does not work

Reward all successes (every little success need to be rewarded; initially we make many errors with limited progress.; importance of visible, public and sincere congratulations to encourage and motivate others to learn new competencies)

Reward all attempts & failures (reward all attempts at progress, ie to learn new ways)

Rewards all questions (asking questions is a sign of involvement by seeking more information; find time to answer questions)

Acknowledge those who resist (not all questions are subversive. "Why is this change necessary" Is an indicator of protecting status quo)

Don't ignore those in denial (it takes time for people to change old habits; don't punish them for the old ways)

6. Create closure

As developing a new status quo is a long and difficult journey, need to celebrate, ie good-bye to the past and hello to the future.

Celebrate achievements (as change is a continuous process with organisations undergoing a storm of changes, it is important to recognize when a particular change is completed; celebrating

"...requires an attitude and understanding that people work better when their efforts are appreciated..."

Peter de Jager, 2010

Hold a good-bye party for the passing of a status quo (people value rituals by ending the old ways in a meaningful ceremony like burning the old manuals, holding a wake, etc; this also demonstrates respect for the old ways

Funerals respect the dead and allow the living to move ahead (encourage open and respectful talking of the past)

"...our dilemma is that we hate change and love it at the same time; what we really want is for things to remain the same but get better..."

Sydney Harris as quoted by Peter de Jager, 2010

(source: Peter de Jager, 2010)


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