Assignment: Leading Planned Evidence-Based Change
- Think about a problem in a specific unit or area of your organization or one with which you are familiar. What are the indications that there is a problem? What change may be needed? (Note: This problem should be different from the one you are addressing in the Week 2 Assignment.). A clinical problem works well; an example is that you note an increasing number of patients with deep vein thrombosis following orthopedic surgery.
- Consider how you could locate evidence to examine the needed change. What literature would you review? Which professional organization standards or recommendations may be relevant? With whom would you communicate/network to ascertain community standards? Bear in mind that you may also look at evidence from fields other than nursing.
- Review the information in the Learning Resources. Using your knowledge of contemporary theories of chaos and complexity, consider how you could adapt Lewin’s classic model for change and apply this to your selected problem.
By Day 3
Post a description of the problem, including relevant indicator(s). Provide a synopsis of how you would proceed in locating evidence, including research literature you would consult, which professional organization standards may be relevant, and with whom you would communicate or network to ascertain community standards. Then, identify how you would adapt Lewin’s classic model of change based on chaos and complexity theory to address this evidence–based change.
Chapter 02 The Nature of Planned Change
PART 1 Overview of Organization Development
for change, decrease those forces maintaining the current state, or apply some combination
of both. For example, the level of performance of a work group might be stable because
group norms maintaining that level are equivalent to the supervisor’s pressures for change
to higher levels. This level can be increased either by changing the group norms to support
higher levels of performance or by increasing supervisor pressures to produce at higher
levels. Lewin suggested that decreasing those forces maintaining the status quo produces
less tension and resistance than increasing forces for change and consequently is a more
effective change strategy.Assignment: Leading Planned Evidence-Based Change
Lewin viewed this change process as consisting of the following three steps, which
are shown in Figure 2.1(A):
Unfreezing. This step usually involves reducing those forces maintaining the
organization’s behavior at its present level. Unfreezing is sometimes accomplished
through a process of “psychological disconfirmation.” By introducing information
that shows discrepancies between behaviors desired by organization members
and those behaviors currently exhibited, members can be motivated to engage in
Moving. This step shifts the behavior of the organization, department, or individ-
ual to a new level. It involves intervening in the system to develop new behaviors,
values, and attitudes through changes in organizational structures and processes.
Refreezing. This step stabilizes the organization at a new state of equilibrium. It
is frequently accomplished through the use of supporting mechanisms that rein-
force the new organizational state, such as organizational culture, rewards, and
Lewin’s model provides a general framework for understanding organizational
change. Because the three steps of change are relatively broad, considerable effort has
gone into elaborating them. For example, the planning model developed by Lippitt,
Watson, and Westley arranges Lewin’s model into seven steps: scouting, entry, diagno-
sis (unfreezing), planning, action (moving), stabilization and evaluation, and termina-
Similarly, Kotter’s eightwstage process can be mapped onto Lewin’s
phases: establishing a sense of urgency, creating the guiding coalition, developing a
vision and strategy, and communicating the change vision (unfreezing); empowering
broad-based action, generating short-term wins (moving); and consolidating gains and
producing more change, and anchoring new approaches in the culture (refreezing).
Lewin’s model remains closely identified with the field of OD, however, and is used
to illustrate how other types of change can be implemented. For example, Lewin’s
three-step model has been used to explain how information technologies can be imple-
mented more effectively.
Action Research Model
The classic action research model focuses on planned change as a cyclical process in
which initial research about the organization provides information to guide subsequent
action. Then the results of the action are assessed to provide further information to
guide further action, and so on. This iterative cycle of research and action involves con-
siderable collaboration among organization members and OD practitioners. It places
heavy emphasis on data gathering and diagnosis prior to action planning and imple-
mentation, as well as careful evaluation of results after action is taken.
Action research is traditionally aimed both at helping specific organizations imple-
ment planned change and at developing more general knowledge that can be applied
to other settings.Assignment: Leading Planned Evidence-Based Change
Although action research was originally developed to have this
dual focus on change and knowledge generation, it has been adapted to OD efforts
in which the major emphasis is on planned change.
Figure 2.1(B) shows the cyclical
25CHAPTER 2 The Nature of Planned Change
phases of planned change as defined by the original action research model. There are
eight main steps.
Problem Identification. This stage usually begins when an executive in the orga-
nization or someone with power and influence senses that the organization has
one or more problems that might be solved with the help of an OD practitioner.
Consultation with a Behavioral Science Expert. During the initial contact, the
OD practitioner and the client carefully assess each other. The practitioner has his
or her own normative, developmental theory or frame of reference and must be
Comparison of Planned Change Models
[Figure 2.1][Figure 2.1]
Behavioral Science Expert
Feedback to Key
Client or Group
Initiate the Inquiry
Design and Deliver
Ways to Create
Data Gathering and
26 PART 1 Overview of Organization Development
conscious of those assumptions and values.Assignment: Leading Planned Evidence-Based Change
Sharing them with the client from the
beginning establishes an open and collaborative atmosphere.
Data Gathering and Preliminary Diagnosis. This step is usually completed by
the OD practitioner, often in conjunction with organization members. It involves
gathering appropriate information and analyzing it to determine the underlying
causes of organizational problems. The four basic methods of gathering data are
interviews, process observation, questionnaires, and organizational performance
data (unfortunately, often overlooked). One approach to diagnosis begins with
observation, proceeds to a semistructured interview, and concludes with a ques-
tionnaire to measure precisely the problems identified by the earlier steps.
gathering diagnostic information, OD practitioners may influence members from
whom they are collecting data. In OD, any action by the OD practitioner can be
viewed as an intervention that will have some effect on the organization.
Feedback to a Key Client or Group. Because action research is a collaborative
activity, the diagnostic data are fed back to the client, usually in a group or work-
team meeting. The feedback step, in which members are given the information gath-
ered by the OD practitioner, helps them determine the strengths and weaknesses
of the organization or unit under study. The consultant provides the client with all
relevant and useful data. Obviously, the practitioner will protect confidential sources
of information and, at times, may even withhold data. Defining what is relevant
and useful involves consideration of privacy and ethics as well as judgment about
whether the group is ready for the information or if the information would make
the client overly defensive.
Joint Diagnosis of the Problem. At this point, members discuss the feedback
and explore with the OD practitioner whether they want to work on identified
problems. A close interrelationship exists among data gathering, feedback, and
diagnosis because the consultant summarizes the basic data from the client mem-
bers and presents the data to them for validation and further diagnosis. An impor-
tant point to remember, as Schein suggests, is that the action research process is
very different from the doctor–patient model, in which the consultant comes in,
makes a diagnosis, and prescribes a solution. Schein notes that the failure to estab-
lish a common frame of reference in the client–consultant relationship may lead
to a faulty diagnosis or to a communication gap whereby the client is sometimes
“unwilling to believe the diagnosis or accept the prescription.” He believes that
“most companies have drawers full of reports by consultants, each loaded with
diagnoses and recommendations which are either not understood or not accepted
by the ‘patient.’ ”
Joint Action Planning. Next, the OD practitioner and the client members
jointly agree on further actions to be taken. This is the beginning of the moving
process (described in Lewin’s change model), as the organization decides how
best to reach a different quasi-stationary equilibrium. At this stage, the specific
action to be taken depends on the culture, technology, and environment of the
organization; the diagnosis of the problem; and the time and expense of the
Action. This stage involves the actual change from one organizational state to
another. It may include installing new methods and procedures, reorganizing
structures and work designs, and reinforcing new behaviors. Such actions typically
cannot be implemented immediately but require a transition period as the organi-
zation moves from the present to a desired future state. Assignment: Leading Planned Evidence-Based Change
Data Gathering After Action. Because action research is a cyclical process, data
must also be gathered after the action has been taken to measure and determine
the effects of the action and to feed the results back to the organization. This, in
turn, may lead to rediagnosis and new action.
27CHAPTER 2 The Nature of Planned Change
The action research model underlies most current approaches to planned change and
is often considered synonymous with OD. Recently, it has been refined and extended
to new settings and applications, and consequently, researchers and practitioners have
made requisite adaptations of its basic framework.
Trends in the application of action research include movement from smaller subunits
of organizations to total systems and communities.
In these larger contexts, action
research is more complex and political than in smaller settings. Therefore, the action
research cycle is coordinated across multiple change processes and includes a diversity
of stakeholders who have an interest in the organization. (We describe these applica-
tions more thoroughly in Chapters 20, 21, and 22.) Action research also is applied