OCM Methodologies, Which is Best?

George Box, noted statistician, states “essentially, all models are wrong, but some are useful.” The same can be said of OCM methodologies. The OCM practice is full of models and methodologies including Kotter, Bridge, Roger’s, Kubler-Ross, Prosci. While these methodologies serve a purpose and help to define a systematic, repeatable process for supporting change, each is not without blind spots and can cause challenges if not used correctly. Here are considerations you need to keep in mind for each of the top five methodologies: 

1.    Kotter’s 8 Steps of Change

John Kotter may be considered the father of modern Change Management, and his 8 steps are a clearly defined process that those early in the change practice can follow. While some may argue Kotter defined the standard by which all current OCM work is executed, his 20+ year old method is deeply rooted in a top-down, less collaborative approach. It may not align well with  the current organizational culture-shaping efforts common in business today, and it assumes that the change process is linear. 

2.    Bridge’s Transition Model

Bridge articulated the transitions between old and new in a way that helps to clearly define the individual psychology of change. This approach is useful in describing the experience of those facing the change, but it lacks a clear model for implementation. 

3.    Roger’s Technology Adoption Curve

Perhaps the most data-driven statistical model of change, this approach is effective in articulating the initial response individuals will have to change. It fails to consider how an individual’s response may evolve over time, or how to intervene to increase those that fall into the Innovator, Early Adopter and Early Majority distributions. 

4.    Kubler-Ross

Existing since the 1960’s, this model is tied to the stages of grief and acceptance of negative life events. This is an effective way to articulate a change journey for individuals, and knowing these stages is effective when determining a communication plan. That said, Kubler-Ross assumes that all changes are bad. Furthermore, it may be too narrowly focused to be effective when implementing changes to groups, as individuals will move from Denial to Acceptance at their own pace. 

5.    Prosci

Prosci has made change management accessible to the masses by providing a clearly defined process and series of tools and templates that can be used to implement change. This approach is certainly useful, but organizations often assume that sending a few people through a certification program makes them change experts. They may come out of these certification programs with great skills at using a series of tools.What they will often miss is the “art” side of change and an understanding of what actions are necessary based upon the data the tools provide. 

Change practitioners who understanding these approaches and how they can be used interchangeably will focus on outcomes and take a flexible approach that best serves the organization’s particular change initiative. This is much better than following steps that do not add value just because they are part of a methodology.


Mark Deans

As the Vice President & Practice Lead of Change 4 Growth's organizational development practice Mark is responsible for overseeing the team of full-time and contract consultants while also serving as Executive Advisor and Program Leader for many of Change 4 Growth's key clients.

Mark has over 20 years of experience in instructional design, organizational change management, and program management. Prior to joining Change 4 Growth, Mark held positions in the consulting industry focused on training/OCM support for Large ERP projects. 

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