The “change curve” was originally developed by Elisabeth Kübler-Ross. Initially used to help people with the grieving process, it has proved valuable in understanding and helping people who are experiencing change and the associated phases and behaviors. The natural progression of how we respond to change is illustrated below.
To learn more about managing the change process, read this presentation.
While there are many change curves, the common trait among them is resistance and a dip, which is commonly referred to as the “Valley of Despair”. A change curve essentially goes through the following phases:
1. Denial: We are introduced to a big change with excitement and overly positive expectations.
2. Frustration: Reality sets in when we realize what the change actually means to us.
3. Depression: Everyone goes through a panic-filled “valley of despair” as we consider worst case scenarios.
4. Experiment: Change agents help those who are impacted to “get it“, “get over it” and “get on with it” as the change is eventually adopted.
5. Acceptance: Once we have accepted the inevitable change, we become more productive, the organization reaps the benefits and everyone is better off for the experience.