Managing change in nursing practice is a challenging task. Bringing about change in the nursing practice faces stiff resistance. In essence, implementing changes produces fear and anxiety that are associated with resistance. Due to rapid technological advancements, the nursing practice has no option but to create an adaptable working environment. To realize this objective, it is necessary to have a clear understanding of change theory frameworks. Having an objective approach to these theoretical frameworks will put in place measures that bring about transformation in the nursing practice.
Comparing Lewin and Lippitt’s theories of change
These two theories are necessary for the process of managing change. For instance, Lewin’s theory seeks to identify key players and assign them roles in the change process. Likewise, Lippitt’s theory establishes the role of the change agent in the process of implementing change.
Collaboration among the stakeholders within the organization is critical towards realizing the objectives of change (Roussel, 2011). Lewin’s theory highly relies on the collaboration that exists between the manager and the staff. Similarly, Lippitt’s theory depends on the organization’s ability to work as a team.
Both Lewin and Lippitt’s theory of management relies on a democratic style of leadership. Since both of them rely on teamwork, the contributions of each member of the team are highly regarded. As a result, every member assumes a specific role in managing change.
Despite the above similarities, Burnes (2004b) argues that Lewin’s theory cannot be effective when implementing change in large organizations. He further contends that Lewin’s theory is the best fit for small or minor changes within an organization. Conversely, Burnes (2004b) argues that Lippitt’s theory is both practical and sustainable when implementing change in large organizations.
Lewin’s theory does not have many details when compared to Lippitt’s theory of change. Due to this, Lippitt’s theory is preferred in broader settings when implementing change. The depth in Lippitt’s theory offers guidance and direction when implementing change patterns.
Lewin’s theory of change
Lewin’s theory of change is a three-tier approach to managing organizational transformation. To implement organizational change, the management team should embrace a three-stage approach (Ziegler, 2005). The initial step known as the unfreezing stage focuses on creating awareness about impending changes. The stage probes into issues facing the organization, the general feelings about change, and decreasing forces that seek to maintain the status quo (Finkelman, 2006). The moving stage is the second stage that involves clarifying goals, objectives, and strategies towards managing change. Its objective is to promote new values, attitudes, and behaviors towards change. The refreezing stage is the last phase of this theory that focuses on integrating new systems in the organization and bringing to a halt the old ways.
The rationale behind Lewin’s Change theory
Kurt Lewin’s force field analysis theory has been effective in several health institutions (Bozak, 2003). It offers clear direction when bringing change to health institutions. Participation, as defined in this theory reduces resistance and promotes change patterns.
Application of Lewin’s Theory in Improving Data Management within a Public Health Facility
During the first stage, which is unfreezing, the change agent took time to communicate with data handlers, hospital managers, and frontline nurses. Keeping the communication lines open was important because it would build trust between the change agent and other stakeholders (Bozak 2003).
The moving stage was the second stage. During this stage, the actual planning of implementing the new data system took place. Due to the nature of the changes, it was necessary to create a planning team with clear roles comprising all the stakeholders. Some of the considerations included educational needs, organizational culture, and leadership.
The refreezing stage was the final stage of this process. To reduce resistance and embrace change, frontline nurses and data managers were given time to learn how to manage the new system until they were completely capable of running the technology.
Summary of Lewin’s Theory
The theory is practical and applicable in a variety of settings. When you identify the areas that need intervention, Lewin’s theoretical framework creates a platform to provide objective solutions. Creating room for consultation generates mutual trust and ownership of the entire process. Secondly, bringing onboard people from different backgrounds enhances the change process. Through collaboration, stakeholders can understand what is happening. Thirdly, the theoretical framework is clear and easy to implement.
The main drawback of this theory is in assuming that all organizations are static. Some of the assumptions include internal organizational politics and wrangles. Such assumptions can be a major drawback towards the successful implementation of change within any organization.
To handle the challenges associated with Lewin’s theory, it is important to focus on the weaknesses illustrated. In this case, the change agent or the manager should first find out whether there are existing internal issues that are in existence. Secondly, it is important to emphasize the importance of the collective approach in addressing prevailing challenges.
Planning was critical towards implementing change. In essence, creating time for the stakeholders to understand the underpinnings of the change was critical. This helped to identify various sources of resistance, thus enabling the framework to work. Though the process was successful, it took a long period trying to explain and convince all the stakeholders involved. In the future, it would work well when proper systems of disseminating information to affected stakeholders are done in advance as this would prevent delay caused by inadequate information.
Bozak, M. (2003). Using Lewin’s force field analysis in implementing a nursing information system. Computers, Informatics, Nursing, 21 (2), 80-85.
Burnes, B. (2004b). Kurt Lewin and the planned approach to change: A re-appraisal. Journal of Management Studies, 6 (41), 977-1002.
Finkelman, A. (2006). Leadership and Management in Nursing (2nd ed.). New Jersey: Pearson Prentice Hall.
Roussel, L. (2011). Management and Leadership for Nurse Administrators. New Jersey: Jones & Bartlett Publishers.
Ziegler, S. M. (2005). Theory-Directed Nursing Practice (2nd ed.). California: Springer Publishing Company.