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Is the Change Curve Model Real?

Is the Change Curve Model Real?

Is the Change Curve Model Real?

The Change Curve model is real, but it is usually taken out of context and applied to situations for which it is not designed to operate.

The Change Curve is based on a model originally developed in the 1960s by Elisabeth Kubler-Ross as a psychological-medical way to explain the grieving process.

It was not designed nor intended to be a model to describe organisational change.

The Kubler-Ross Change Curve

This Change Curve describes the process that people go through when they are informed of bad news, such as the contraction of a terminal illness.

The five stages of the Kubler-Ross Change (grieving) process are:

Denial: which is the initial refusal to accept the news as true.

Anger: which is the negative emotional response when people finally accept the bad news is true.

Bargaining: which is when people try to negotiate a way out of the bad news by creating "if / then" hypothetical questions:

  • "If I were to stop smoking, then would that fix it?"
  • "If I were to go on a detox diet, then would that fix it?"

Depression: which is when the truth is recognised as inevitable and there is no escape.

Acceptance: which is when people come to terms with the reality of the situation and they decide to live with knowledge of the bad news.

Is the Kubler-Ross Change Curve model suitable for use as an Organisational Change model?

No, not really.

Whenever a concept is taken out of context, then it is not an effective tool to understand the reality of the situation and therefore how to respond to it.

It may be true that the Kubler-Ross model may be taken as a metaphor to understand the emotional stages that SOME people MIGHT experience, when they are told that changes are being imposed upon them. However, to use a model designed to explain the grieving process as a tool to understand organisational change is, at best, only a guide, and at worst, a misconception.

There are better models to understand how to manage organisational change.

Organisational Change Training

Our Change Management training course is recommended for anyone wanting to know more about organisational change and learn how to use change to their advantage.

About the Author: Chris Farmer


Chris Farmer is the founder of the Corporate Coach Group and has many years’ experience in training leaders and managers, in both the public and private sectors, to achieve their organisational goals, especially during tough economic times. He is also well aware of the disciplines and problems associated with running a business.

Over the years, Chris has designed and delivered thousands of training programmes and has coached and motivated many management teams, groups and individuals. His training programmes are both structured and clear, designed to help delegates organise their thinking and, wherever necessary, to improve their techniques and skills.

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Further Reading in Change Management

  • Why Won't People Accept Change?
    Why won't people accept change, even when they can see that what they are doing does not bring them what they want?
    Read Article >
  • Change Should be an Evolution, Not a Revolution
    People find it hard to accept change. But for organisations and ourselves to adapt and improve, change is necessary. Change doesn't have to be revolutionary, it can in fact evolutionary. Well organised and well paced.
    Read Article >
  • What is Change Management?
    Learn the definition of change management, the theory and methods behind it, and how to deliver change management training to your team.
    Read Article >
  • Effectively manage change
    Effectively Manage Change Change management training is important because there have been enormous changes in the way that we shop, how we entertain ourselves, how we spend our leisure time and how we do business. But for many, this change means a feeling of uncertainty. Most people don't like uncertainty: they...
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  • Management training: Continuous improvement cycle
    Management training: Continuous improvement cycle The role of a manager is to induce the best performance from the team. If the manager is not inducing a better performance from the team, than what the team would have achieved if the manager was not there, then the manager is superfluous to need...
    Read Article >

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