A lot of change management approaches are based on viewing change as negative and how to manage this negative experience. The super popular Kubler-Ross model was used to explain the grieving process and later became adopted as a change model. Kubler-Ross developed this model after observing the emotional transition of terminally ill patients, from shock, denial, anger, depression, acceptance and integration. Since then the change curve has been used to cater to all types of change.
John Kotter’s 8-step model of leading change also begins with a potentially negative context of creating a sense of urgency. The context is … if the organization does not do ‘A’ then ‘B’ will happen. The thinking is that providing this context of what negative things will come if we don’t act, we can get traction on building the impetus for change. Step 5 is about enabling action by removing barriers and friction – anticipating and working on these obstacles will enable change success.
Moreover, the language we use in change management tends to be about managing negative incidents. A key focus we have is about anticipating and managing employee and stakeholder resistance. Another focus is on ensuring that senior managers are reinforcing and driving down the message. The idea is that without the hierarchical charge and push change will not be adopted by employees.