Change Theories

Change theories inform people and organizations on how to break habits, addictions, patterns, and provide steps on how to elevate life, work, and play.  Some theories provide frameworks to follow, others provide probing questions to reflect on dimensions of a typical day, week, process, procedure, and some theories illustrate how change may not be a viable option at the present time.

Regardless of which theory is used a few baseline realities of change include: change is a process, change involves the individual and others related to the individual, change is personal, change involves developmental and behavioral growth, change is best understood in operational terms through anecdotal and evaluative measures, and successful change needs to be celebrated.

Taking Charge

One model used for implementing an innovation is the Concerns-Based Adoption Model (C-BAM) typically used in education and organizational settings.  This theory blends in 3 elements of a change: 1.)the innovation, 2.)people's attitudes and behaviors towards the innovation, and 3.)the level of use of the innovation.  Often change is quickly implemented without forethought of who it affects, the attitudes that may be surrounding the change, and how it will be evaluated over time - this model takes into account all of the variables up front and plans with the end in mind. 

Uncovering Gremlins

Personal or professional change involves others and it involves gremlins - those internal creatures who self-sabotage.  No matter where change is wanted; at work, home, or socially, gremlins will attend and reap havoc sometimes derailing any forward progress or worse stopping the change in its' tracks.  In Rick Carson's book "Taming Your Gremlin," the person or organization who wants to change begins the journey by simply breathing and noticing.  Noticing habits, assumptions, blocks, behaviors, and the gremlins associated to those areas.  The journey continues into becoming open and playing with options, visualizing, and strategies to meet the gremlins along the way. Carson ends the story suggesting the final steps are to be constantly in process (as all change is) to sustain change: breathe, take notice, play with options, while becoming adept in delivering a personal mantra which keeps your gremlin at rest.

Stepping Out or Not

 The Transtheoretical Model of Change , also known as Stages of Change provides a methodology that supports and understands the spiral process of intentional behavior change. The researchers (James Prochaska, John Norcross, Carlo DiClemente) who created the theory of change broke away from change as linear to change as an evolving spiral process.  The spiral did not always go in one direction, as the process could go backwards and then forwards or possibly backwards and stall.  The six (6) stages that make up the model include 1.) Pre-Contemplation, 2.) Contemplation, 3.) Preparation, 4.)Action, 5.) Maintenance, 6.) Termination.  The most noticeable first stage of pre-contemplation is where denial and no intention to change are evident.  If one gets to stage 2 of contemplation then an acknowledgment of the need for change has been stated but not necessarily any movement to prepare for change as in Stage 3.  People who have addictive behaviors, suffer from chronic illnesses, or who are not decision makers may go between stages 1 and 2 for a period of time until something triggers a desire to move forward.  Once preparation and action occur and change is perceived as helpful and successful the stages continue into the critical Stage of maintenance.  It is in this stage that a relapse can occur and a jumpstart of stages 3-5 must be revisited.  

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