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Lewin’s and Lippitt’s Change Theories


With the advancement of technology, the healthcare sector is forced to adopt new practices. Adopting new practices will require healthcare providers to adopt effective change management approaches (Burke, 2013). The importance of learning change theories helps in understanding how a successful change process can encourage and facilitate lasting success.

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Lewin’s Three-Step Change Theory

As far as Lewin’s view of the change process is concerned, it is first important to unfreeze the status quo. There are three ways through which unfreezing can be achieved (Burke, 2013). Unfreezing approaches include increasing motivating forces that distract the prevailing state of affairs, decreasing straining forces that affect movement from the existing equilibrium, and a blend of the two approaches. Building trusts and recognition are important approaches in the unfreezing process. Other approaches are motivating organizational members by making them ready for the change process and taking part in recognizing issues and creating their solution within the group (Burke, 2013). Lewin’s second step is movement. Moving the system be achieved through, persuasion of employees to aggress that the current system is not efficient, working together towards a new approach, and connecting individual’s views. According to Lewin’s theory of change, the last step of the change model is refreezing.

Lippitt’s Phases of Change Theory

Lippitt’s phases of change theory involve seven steps to success in the change process. This theory puts an emphasis on responsibility and role for a change. In the seven processes, communication is vital (Grol, Wensing & Eccles, 2005). The seven steps include:

  • diagnosing the problem,
  • accessing the capacity and motivation for change,
  • accessing the capacity and motivation for change agents,
  • choosing the change objects,
  • understanding and selecting parties,
  • maintaining the change, and
  • terminating the helping relationship, respectively.

As argued by Burke (2013), the stability of a change process will depend on how close these processes have been integrated into the affected subparts of the system.

Application and Recommendation

Lewin’s model of change can be used in a medical setting to facilitate change. With the rise of ethical issues in the provision of healthcare, medication safety is important. In the contemporary healthcare environment, computer-assisted devices, and technological advancements have become a major challenge to nurses (Grol, Wensing & Eccles, 2005). Implementing change in healthcare environments can result in fear of anxiety in nurses thus resistance to change. Since Lewin’s theory of change management establishes how human behaviors relate to the patterns of change resistance, it can be used to help nurses to adopt the use of bar codes on medication. First, clinic management will have to freeze the status quo by teaching nurses the importance of using bar codes. Secondly, moving the system can be achieved by introducing incentives to nurses who effectively use the new technology. Lastly, the new technology should refreeze its practices and make the change be part of its culture.

Limitations of the Lewin’s Theory of Change

In the course of refreezing phase, organizational members may be in shock since another change could be on its way. Such shocks may make employees ineffective in their respective jobs. The refreezing phase is characterized by criticism, change within the organization may take time to be effective thus making employees uncomfortable.


It is important to note that the theories of change have both similarities and differences. Lewin’s theory of change does not only plan and goal-centered, but it is also coherent. Because of its rationality, Lewin’s model of change does not take into account the effects of change (Burke, 2013). Lippitt’s change theory is an extension of Lewin’s model of change and centers on the agents of change. Lewin’s theory of change makes rational sense since it attempts to provide an analysis of the restraining and driving forces that influence the change process.

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As established in this paper, Lewin’s model of change is not only rational but also plan and goal-centered. Although change is important and makes rational sense on paper, it should be handled in a manner that considers human experiences and feelings to avoid negative results (Grol, Wensing & Eccles, 2005). Employees’ excitement towards the change process may greatly affect the expectations and feelings of other members of the organization. Conversely, with respect to future research, professionals will have to create effective change leadership.


Theories of change highlighted in this paper are a testimony that change is real and can be studied and analyzed. Besides, the concept of change has investigated how successful change can be achieved. Driving forces enable change since it helps in pushing organizational members towards the desired direction. On the other hand, limiting forces deter change since they push organizational members in the wrong direction. Lewin’s three-step model since will assist in shifting the balance towards the desired direction while minimizing resistance.


Burke, W. (2002). Organization change. Thousand Oaks, Calif.: Sage Publications.

Grol, R., Wensing, M., & Eccles, M. (2005). Improving patient care. Edinburgh: Elsevier Butterworth Heinemann.

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