Tuesday, December 11, 2012

First McKinsey Change Management Model

McKinsey consultants Peters & Waterman were the most popular in the 80s and 90s because they co-authored the book In Search of Excellence.  A lesser known McKinsey consultant working alongside Peters & Waterman was a guy named Julien Phillips.  He published a model he called "change management" in a scholarly journal in 1982.

Lewin's model was originally text-only:

It was almost always in narrative form followed by the force-field diagram.  I'm not going to cite this because I don't want to be perceived as criticizing the authors.  I'll just say it was from the same time period as Phillips ... early 1980s.

Lippitt advances Lewin's model
In 1958, Ron Lippitt, with his colleagues Jeanne Watson and Bruce Westley, wrote a book called The Dynamics of Planned Change.  In this book, they took Lewin's 3-step model (intended for individuals and groups) and made the leap to the organizational level.  They wrote, "our study of the work done by various change agents seems to suggest that this conception of the three phases can be somewhat expanded."  
7-phases of Planned Change

1.  Development of a need for change (unfreezing),
2.  Establishment of a change relationship,
3.  Working toward change (moving),
3.  Diagnose the problem,
4.  Examine alternate routes; establish goals and intention of action
5.  Transformation of intention into action,
6.  Generalization and stabilization of change (freezing), and
7.  Achieving a terminal relationship. 

After Lippitt, a few other consultants (Havelock - Ed Psyc; Reddin - MBO) riffed of of Lewin's work, but nothing that stuck.  Lippitt shifted his efforts toward vision, marked by his partnership with Ed Lindamen of NASA.  If anything, the list seems more like a consulting skills list out of a Schein or Block book.

Steppingstone from Lewin to Kotter
Phillips also published an attempt to revise Lewin.  His phases of change are as follows:
1.  Creating a sense of concern,
2.  Developing a specific commitment to change,
3.  Pushing for major change, and
4.  Reinforcing and consolidating the new course.

I can see where the Phillips model served as a predecessor for Kotter's work.  Phillips was an associate in the San Francisco office and worked with Peters and Waterman before their meteoric rise.  Waterman thought of himself as a business social scientist and was instrumental in creating templates for their trademark "studies."  The McKinsey study blueprint Waterman created has 3 sections:

1.  Diagnostic,
2.  Problem-solving ('crack the case'), and
3.  Implementation

The power of McKinsey was that they practiced social science according to professional discipline rather than an academic discipline.  Consulting firm priorities are:
1. Self-interest
2. Client's interest
3. Methodological rigor

Academic researcher priorities are:
1. Methodological rigor (self-interest)
2. Organization's interest

Unfortunately, the client's interest is #2 in both disciplines. 

Related Posts:
The Lewin Change Model Debate
Top-down Change Management: Lewin Perspective
Why 70% Failure Rate is SUCCESS for some

Kiechel III, W. (2010). The Lords of Strategy: The Secret Intellectual History of the New Corporate World. New York: Harvard Business School Press.
Lippitt, R., Watson, J., and Westley, B. (1958). The dynamics of planned change: A comparative study of principles and techniques. New York: Harcourt, Brace & World, Inc.
Phillips, J. R. (1983). Enhancing the Effectiveness of Organizational Change Management. Human Resource Management, 22(1/2), 183-199.
Rasiel, E. (1999). The McKinsey way. New York, NY:  McGraw-Hill


  1. Fascinating Ron. I am loving your site. Thanks for sharing this!


Template developed by Confluent Forms LLC; more resources at BlogXpertise