Ultimate change management model: the change house

Change seems to be a constant in our lives. Whether we realise it or not, we are always in some stage of a change cycle, whether big or small. Yet, research shows that 75% of transformation efforts don’t deliver the hoped for results. Maybe it’s time to look at the way we deal with change within organisations. A good place to start is by learning about how we respond to change, with a change management model.

Personal growth is an ongoing process, a continuing journey of development, which means that change, renewal, and reinvention are with us all the time.

One of the better change management models to explain this is The change house.

First developed in the 1970s by Claes Janssen, The change house is a metaphor that brings the concept of change to life by using the idea of a house with several rooms. Each of the four main rooms represents a different state of change we may find ourselves in.

Here is what it looks like:


Let’s take a trip through the four rooms.

1. Room of Contentment

When life is good, we stay in the room of contentment. It’s the mindset that represents when we’re content with what we have and how our life is progressing. This can be in respect to our ‘big picture’ view or specific areas of our life like work, relationships, or life situations.

Sometimes, we’re so content, that we move out onto the ‘Sun lounge’ of contentment. This indicates an even more relaxed mindset as we bask in the sunshine of our perceived perfect world.

This is when change happens.

Something happens to disrupt this contentment and moves us into the…

2. Room of Denial

This room is when the change first occurs, and we initially believe that it won’t affect us or doesn’t apply to us. Time for your change management model to be in place. We fail to see the potential threat to our current way of life and instead continue to believe that everything is okay or that the change will eventually ‘blow over’.

This denial is chiefly focused on the impact it will have upon us specifically, rather than a denial that the change is happening at all.

At the extreme end of this scale is the ‘Dungeon of denial’. Sometimes, we can get stuck in denial and we end up in this lower room by burying our heads in the sand and ignoring what’s happening around us.

3. Room of Confusion

Eventually, we wake up to the situation around us. We finally realise that something is different, but we still don’t know how to respond appropriately to it.

Emotions tend to run high with anxiety or fear as we assess the situation we are in and we experience a myriad of feelings associated with that. This is one of ‘states’ where we may be in most need of a change management model- no one wants to feel stressed or anxious, but recognising that it is part of change can help us mitigate it.

Most of us will find ourselves doing a great deal of analysis in this room, around the correct direction we should take, but at last, we have finally recognised that change is needed and must be embraced.

However, like the Room of denial, the Room of confusion also has a dungeon; aptly named the ‘Pit of Paralysis’.

We go to this room when there is simply too much to consider; we become overwhelmed with the numerous ways to respond to change and end up doing nothing. We are paralysed by our own uncertainty and confusion about the best way to move forward.

Wrong Direction Door

Alternatively, we can also end up going through the ‘Wrong direction door’ out of the Room of confusion. This is when we believe we have found the correct response to the change and move forwards, only to choose the wrong direction. Hopefully, with a change management model in place, you can avoid going through the ‘Wrong direction door’.

For example, Blockbusters were in the Room of confusion; the world was changing, people were starting to go online for their films, and streaming services were becoming steadily more popular. They believed that staying on the high street was the correct way to go, and that the idea of online services would not catch on.

This may be a good example of going through the Wrong direction door.

What they should have done is to see where the world was heading and make their decision based on these facts. 

Instead, they decided to continue in the way that was familiar to them and their business ended up failing.

In the end, no matter how much time we spend in the Room of confusion or its side rooms, we need to eventually end up in the…

4. Room of Renewal

This is where we have ultimately made up our minds; we form a plan and a new way forward, and we feel empowered or invigorated to move on.

We create energy for the new way forward, putting a greater emphasis on creativity and support, helping others who are going through the same change to adapt and find their own new normal.

This sharing of feelings, thoughts and experiences encourages conscious engagement in the change, so it can be seen as increasingly positive rather than negative.

Final Thoughts

This is a never-ending cycle. Once we have settled again, we will find ourselves back in the Room of Contentment and thus the cycle will start all over again once the next change arrives.

We must always be prepared for the changes ahead of us, so that we may continue to move forward, and change management models help us to understand where we are, what the challenges are and how to deal with them in order to move forward onto the next stage of our journey.

What changes are you going through right now? Can you now identify which room of the change house you are in?

If you would like some help with adapting to change, check out our workshop here – Managing change.

More of our latest news