Comparing Change Theories


Two widely known theories of change include the three-step Lewin’s theory of change and the eight-step Kotter’s theory of change. The Lewin’s theory of change entails an initial stage of unfreezing where an awareness of the proposed change is created among the prospective stakeholders. Taking the potential consumers of the change through unfreezing aids in diluting the status quo, emphasizing on the need for a change of the ways of doing things (Shonkoff & Fisher, 2013). The unfreezing stage is followed by the changing stage which drives the stakeholders through the implementation process of the proposed change. It is doing this stage that the consumers will be expected to learn the new way of handling the elderly (in the current project for instance) by applying evidence-based practice to reduce the incidence of medication-related falls. The more the people get to understand the nature of the proposed change, the more motivated they become towards adapting to the new ways of doing things. In the third stage of this theory, the adapting change consumers and the implementers work on reinforcing, stabilizing and solidifying the new status of change (Shonkoff & Fisher, 2013). This change theory is, however, known to be more theoretical than practical when compared to the step by step change theory developed by Kotter. 

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Kotter’s theory consists of eight stages as opposed to only three stages on the Lewin’s theory and is based more on lobbying for support of the proposed change by team leaders (Schaffer, Sandau & Diedrick, 2013). In the first stage of this change theory, the implementer is expected to establish a sense of urgency to motivate the subjects towards a timely change followed by a stage of creating the guiding coalition once the individuals realize the need for the change just like in Lewin’s theory. The theory also suggests the need to draw a vision to motivate the consumers throughout their transition from the status quo although proper communication is required from the implementers. As opposed to the Lewin’s theory, the Kotters theory describes the need for a broad-based action to remove all barriers towards the success of the change, making it more practical (Shonkoff & Fisher, 2013). The final three stages of Kotter’s theory revolve around generating short-term wins, consolidating gains to produce more change and anchoring the proposed changes within the organizational culture. Evidently, the Kotter’s change theory made more practical sense and was selected to guide the implementation of the current EBP project. My mentor also used this theory and realized huge adoption by the change consumers. 

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  1. Schaffer, M. A., Sandau, K. E., & Diedrick, L. (2013). Evidencebased practice models for organizational change: overview and practical applications. Journal of Advanced Nursing, 69(5), 1197-1209.
  2. Shonkoff, J. P., & Fisher, P. A. (2013). Rethinking evidence-based practice and two-generation programs to create the future of early childhood policy. Development and Psychopathology, 25(4pt2), 1635-1653.
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