Kritsonis, A. (2005). Comparison of Change Theories. International Journal of Scholarly
Academic Intellectual Diversity, 8 (1), 1-7

Lippitt’s Phases of Change Theory

Human Behavior:
Lippitt, Watson and Westley’s (1958) theory is an extended take on Lewin’s Theory about change. It is a seven-step theory that “focuses more on the role and responsibility of the change agent than on the evolution of the change itself.” The seven steps include:
  1. Diagnose the problem
  2. Assess the motivation and capacity for change
  3. Assess the resources and motivation of the change agent. This includes the change agent’s commitment to change, power and stamina.
  4. Choose progressive change objects. In this step, action plans are developed and strategies are established.
  5. The role of the change agents should be selected and clearly understood by all parties so that expectations are clear. Examples of roles are: cheerleader, facilitator and expert.
  6. Maintain the change. Communication, feedback and group coordination are essential elements in this step of the change process.
  7. Gradually terminate from the helping relationship. The change agent should gradually withdraw from their role over time. This will occur when the change becomes part of the organizational culture (Lippitt, Watson, Westley 58-59).

Instigate Change in Higher Education:
In higher education, Lippitt’s theory can prompt change by having management understand that change is better when it has been rooted within the organization. Management needs to make sure that the change spreads to other affecting parts of the organization. For example, different university departments espouse the same innovation. This model will focus more on the role and responsibility of the thing causing the change, rather than focusing on the change. If higher education management understands that employees react to change better, if it affects other departments and not just their own, the change will be more unwavering. “The more widespread imitation becomes, the more the behavior is regarded as normal” (Lippitt, Watson and Westley, 58-59, as cited by Kritonis, 2004-2005).