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Thursday, May 2, 2019

What is Kubler-Ross Change Curve?


Managing change and navigating through it is a challenging task for both managers and leaders. A recent training organized in the company on change management focussed on a framework - ADKAR model of change management. Before looking into ADKAR framework, let's first discuss about Kubler-Ross Change Curve.

What is Kubler-Ross Change Curve?

Elisabeth Kubler-Ross was a Psychiatrist by profession who is well known for her work on treatment of dying patients from a psychological perspective.. She outlined the five stages that terminally ill patients experience in her book On Death and Dying. This five stages of grief model widely got accepted outside medical field and became part of most of of the changement management literature; most importantly as a tool to educate on the importance of how to adapt during changes.

The Five Stages of Grief aka Kubler-Ross Change Curve

Often the announcement of any change, especially that affects one's day-to-day routine is received with a shock followed by denial. A denial is considered to give us time to absorb the intensity of the news and keep ourselves away from accepting a change is coming. This is the first stage in the Kubler-Ross Change Curve -- Denial.


This is often followed by self-inflicting questions like why is it happening to only me raised concerns and anger in oneself. Slowly we accept the fact that a change is coming towards us which we were not expecting originally. This usually result in anger; angry towards ourselves resulting in self-blame, or anger towards other putting blame on others. This is the second stage in the curve -- Anger.

The third stage in Kubler-Ross Change Curve -- Bargain once we start to think of alternatives or falsely pretend if the change slows down. For example, pray to God; put more efforts into work to prove our self etc.

This may finally result in the next negative affect of being in Depression. This is the fourth stage in the five stages of grief. At this stage, we start to loose hope; tend to accept things as is. Often this results in demotivation and churn.

The last stage in the curve is Acceptance where we slowly start to accept things and looks for opportunities to prove, improve based on the new reality. This is when one tend to accept the new regulations, policies or projects and move on to what they are equipped with. It is not still in a happy space; but acts as a pivot point to move on.

For a manager, the key thing to understand from this curve is that, the stages of grief are not linear and an associate may move between stages. Also it is key to understand that the acceptance phase is just another beginning and we need to work on to make the associate navigate through it to a new normal that the organization wants to be in.

While this model looks simple, it is often a wonderful framework to associate with the emotions one may be going through post a change - be it professional or personal. Being able to understand the same helps in coping up faster with the change.

In a following blog post, we will look into ADKAR model.