The change curve

blue and red rippled curved plastic

With the continued change to the new norm that we are seeing worldwide at the moment, one of the most applicable models to explain it, is the Change Curve.

Derived from the work of Elisabeth Kubler-Ross, the Change Curve identifies 7 typical stages that people go through when faced with change.

This can be change on a big or small scale, the curve is the same.

The curve maps across the typical points that people go through as they are presented with, made to react to and then ultimately, absorb and adapt to the impacts of disruptive change.

Here is the curve.


Let’s go through it.

Stage 1: Shock

This is the moment we can all identify with; the change is coming. This can create a feeling of shock in us.

Step 2: Denial

We hold onto the belief that the change isn’t relevant to us or what we do, in business or life.

Step 3: Frustration

We respond with anger or frustration, for example thinking, “We will not allow this change to happen!”

Step 4: Depression

This is the moment where change can get on top of us, where everything we are currently doing feels unnecessary and our confidence suffers for it.

Stage 5: Experiment

We start to consider if the change might actually work for us, and begin to try things out, consider new scenarios and ways of thinking. This is the point where we accept that we cannot prevent this and the change is going to happen regardless.

Stage 6: Decisions

At last, we are coming to terms with the change and starting to feel more positive about our future. We start to make decisions about what works and what doesn’t, in the new way of thinking.

Stage 7: Integration

What was new and uncomfortable is now just the way things are done. The change has become the new norm.

So what does this tell us?

As we follow the curve left to right, we can see how people go through these steps of ultimate acceptance in regard to change.

We start in shock and ultimately try to carry on as if the change isn’t going to happen.

Then we become annoyed and try to fight the change. Then, we begin to suffer under the weight of change, unable to see what the ‘point’ is of carrying on with our work if everything is going to change soon anyway.

Then as time goes on, however, we begin to simply accept that the change is happening and stop resisting, choosing to move with it, rather than against it. We start to let go of the old way and embrace what is happening.

This allows us to make the conscious decision to embrace change, reorganise our ways of working and then start to integrate the change, so that we can fully move forward.

While there are lots of different variations of the Change Curve, with each one using different labels for the various points along the curve, ultimately, each Change Curve follows the same journey, even if the wording is slightly different.

So, there you have it. Where on the Change Curve are you? Can the Change Curve help you in these times of massive disruption to our daily lives?

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