Cycle of Change

The Cycle of Change, conceptualized by American author and change consultant Rick Maurer, provides a framework for understanding and planning changes. This model, detailed in his book „Beyond the Wall of Resistance,“ outlines six phases and four segments, making change comprehensible. It helps to view change as a natural process often following a structured order.

Why this model is beneficial for leaders and change participants:

  • It clearly outlines the sequential stages of change.
  • It aids in understanding, describing, and planning various phases.
  • It provides guidance for implementing change across different stages.

The six phases of the cycle of change

Phase 1: In the Dark

Change begins “in the dark,” where there is no awareness of the upcoming change. There might be occasional hints, but no clear recognition of an impending shift.

Actions to transition from In the Dark to Seeing the Challenge:

  • Clarify the specific challenge.
  • Explain the background and purpose of the change.
  • Create a sense of urgency and address people’s emotions.

Phase 2: See the Challenge

After the initial darkness comes the realization that change is happening, presenting a new challenge.

Actions to transition from See the Challenge to Get Started:

  • Ensure people not only recognize but also feel the challenge to motivate action.
  • Facilitate a shift from a passive to an active mindset, observable through initial actions.
  • Help individuals identify tasks, participate, and overcome obstacles.

Phase 3: Get Started

Getting Started involves seeking solutions. Alternatives are evaluated, decisions are made, and preparations are undertaken.

Actions to transition from Get Started to Rollout:

  • Engage people in concrete work, supporting and involving them.
  • Collect and discuss ideas, make team-based or leadership decisions.
  • Prepare for the specific change, maintaining focus on the vision.

Phase 4: Rollout

Rollout marks the transition from preparation to implementation. New roles are assumed, software is utilized, or new offices are occupied.

Actions to transition from Rollout to Results:

  • Implement the change, possibly starting with test phases before full-scale deployment.
  • Acknowledge the public nature of change, providing support and coaching.
  • Highlight early successes and optimize the process through collective learning.

Phase 5: Results

Changes now manifest in measurable outcomes, and the change is no longer new.

Actions for the Post-Results phase:

  • Ensure new behaviors are not just understood but ingrained.
  • Be prepared for occasional setbacks.
  • Celebrate overall success and recognize team achievements.

Phase 6: Time to Move on

The change is now complete, and new behaviors have become habits.

Actions for when it is Time to Move on:

  • Recognize that stability post-change often serves as a foundation for future changes.
  • Stay vigilant and monitor internal and external market changes and the immediate environment.

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