Leadership Solutions from Read Solutions Group: Four Rooms of Change

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Four Rooms of Change

I had the opportunity to listen to Kenny Moore, the Monk from "The CEO and the Monk" speak. He introduced the "Four Rooms of Change Theory" developed by Claes Janssen. While similar to other change models, this one offers some imagery that may be useful in conversations with managers. As with all models, it has some limitations.

The premise is that all systems - individuals, teams, communities, organizations - live in a within a space of four rooms; often referred to as a 4 room apartment. The rooms within this apartment are Contentment, Denial, Confusion and Renewal. According to Moore, people move from one room to the next when 1) they are ready, 2) life invites them, and 3) reality kicks them.

When we look at this model in the context of organizational change, its very simplicity enables its use with management teams. It is easy to relate each room to life experiences, as Janssen and his collaborators have done.

What makes the model interesting for these discussions is the premise that people move of their own accord. As leaders, we can not push, pull, threaten or entice people from one room to the next. We can, however, work to "keep the doors open".

As we look more deeply at this model, we begin to notice the following questions:
1. How do people behave in each room?
2. What are the most effective leadership tools aligned with the behaviors each room?
3. If every room is a necessary part of the change, what is the value of each room?
4. Is there a way to "decorate" or light each room that makes it a safe place?
5. How do we keep the doors open? Are there different strategies for different rooms?
6. What organizational systems and structures keep doors open? Which ones shut doors?
7. Is it true that the best thing that leaders can do is keep the doors open, and not push, pull, threaten or entice?

If you've used this model, I invite your comments and thoughts. I'll use future blog posts to delve into my questions.

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