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Lewin's 3 Stage Model

K. Lewin, Field Theory in Social Science, Harper and Row, 1951. This diagram has been recreated by LMC.

LMC explains Lewin's 3 Stage Model

This model states that organisational change involves a move from one static state via a progressional shift, to another static state. The model, also known as Unfreeze-Change-Refreeze, comprises a three-stage process of 1) unfreezing, 2) changing and 3) re-freezing.

Stage 1: Unfreeze

This stage involves creating the right conditions for change to occur. By resisting change, people often attach a sense of identity to their environment. In this state, alternatives, even beneficial ones, will initially cause discomfort. The challenge is to move people from this 'frozen' state to a 'change ready' or 'unfrozen' state.

Stage 2: Transition

The transitional 'journey' is central to Lewin's model and at the psychological level it is typically a period of confusion. People are aware that the old ways are being challenged, but there is no clear understanding of the new ways which will replace them. As roles change, a reduced state of efficiency is created, where goals are significantly lowered. Good leadership is important, and coaching, counseling or psychological support may be needed. The end goal of this stage is to get people to the 'unfrozen' state and keep them there.

Stage 3: Refreeze

The end goal of the model is to achieve a 'refreeze', re-establishing a new place of stability and elevate comfort levels by reconnecting people back into their safe, familiar environment. Refreezing takes people from a period of low productivity in the transitional state to a stable and productive state.

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