Beckhard and Harris Change Management Process

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The Beckhard and Harris Change Management Process is a structured approach to facilitating organizational change. Developed by Richard Beckhard and Reuben T. Harris in the 1980s, this model underscores the importance of assessing the current and desired states of an organization, and the costs associated with not making the change. By focusing on the equation DxVxF>RDxVxF>R, where D is dissatisfaction with the current state, V is a clear vision of the future, F represents first steps towards the change, and R is the resistance to change, the model emphasizes that for change to be successful, the product of D, V, and F must be greater than R.

Describing the Product: Beckhard and Harris Change Management Process

The Beckhard and Harris Change Management Process is a prominent change model that provides organisations with a structured method to manage and implement change. Grounded in the pioneering work of theorists Richard Beckhard and Reuben T. Harris, this model offers a practical guide to creating and executing a successful change initiative.

The Beckhard and Harris Change Formula

One of the core elements of this process is the beckhard and harris change formula. This change equation, often referred to as the formula for change, is given by: DxVxF>RDxVxF>R Where:

  • D represents the level of dissatisfaction with the current system.
  • V signifies the vision of what things will look like after the change.
  • F stands for the first steps that must be taken towards implementing the change.
  • R denotes resistance to change and dissatisfaction with the status quo.

The equation is intentionally designed as a multiplication. If any individual factor on the left side is equal to zero, the left side of the equation becomes zero, making it impossible for change to occur.

Practical Application of the Model

  • Step 1: Analyse the Current Situation Begin by performing a gap analysis that analyses the current organisational landscape. Recognise the level of dissatisfaction with the current system, and the need for change.
  • Step 2: Establish a Clear Vision The vision of the desired change must be clear and easy to grasp. This vision not only represents the desirability of the new system but also sets the direction for the change initiative.
  • Step 3: Identify First Steps Plan how the plan for change is implemented. The first steps must be practical and actionable, bridging the present and future states.
  • Step 4: Analyse Resistance to Change Understanding and overcoming resistance is pivotal. One must first determine who is affected by the changes and the potential reasons they might resist. The benefits of the change must outweigh the perceived costs to drive the change.

 The Importance of the Formula

The beckhard-harris change model’s success hinges on ensuring that the product of dissatisfaction, vision, and first steps (factors on the left side of the equation) is sufficiently large to overcome the resistance. This balance is crucial for managing complex change and ensuring the potential success of a change initiative.

Comparative Analysis

While the Beckhard and Harris model is influential, there are other change management models like Bridges’ and Kotter’s which offer different perspectives. However, the beckhard and david (consultant David Gleicher was an early contributor before Beckhard and Harris refined it) model stands out because of its clear emphasis on the multiplication factor and its insistence that each part of the change formula must be attractive and compelling to ensure the change is necessary and successful.

For a change initiative to have high chances of success, it’s essential to recognise that managing the transition isn’t just about the proposed change. It’s about understanding the current situation, acknowledging the level of dissatisfaction, and crafting a compelling case for change. With the Beckhard and Harris change model, organisations have a clear guide to ensure that their change over time is both effective and sustainable.


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