The Change Process as “Unfreezing, Changing and Refreezing”
The process of change has been characterized as having three basic stages: unfreezing, changing, and re-freezing. This view draws heavily on Kurt Lewin’s adoption of the systems concept of homeostasis or dynamic stability.
What is useful about this framework is that it gives rise to thinking about a staged approach to changing things. Looking before you leap is usually sound practice.
What is not useful about this framework is that it does not allow for change efforts that begin with the organization in extremis (i.e., already “unfrozen”), nor does it allow for organizations faced with the prospect of having to “hang loose” for extended periods of time (i.e., staying “unfrozen”).
In other words, the beginning and ending point of the unfreeze-change-refreeze model is stability — which, for some people and some organizations, is a luxury. For others, internal stability spells disaster. A tortoise on the move can overtake even the fastest hare if that hare stands still.