Do Change Theories Really Need To Change!?

Rick Maurer and I (Leif Sørensen - Actee Founder & CEO) are having a conversation on the topic of change and his new work on the subject, at the live podcast event, on the 27th of June at 15:00 - 15:30 CEST. 

Imagine that you are in the middle of a task, focused and fully engaged in getting the model across. Suddenly someone comes up to you and says "The theory you are using has been updated".

How does that make you feel? 

Perhaps you would feel a bit taken aback, surprised, or even confused. If you are in control of the initial chock of change, you might wonder what exactly has been updated and how it might affect the task for the group you are working with. You might feel like you need to pause and recalibrate your understanding of the theory, and if you are smart you thought of a question to pose back, related to the impact of the changed theory alterations.   

I´m sure you also feel curious and excited about the updated theory. You're probably eager to learn more and see how it can improve your work or make it more efficient. You might feel a sense of satisfaction that you are now staying up to date with the latest thinking in your field.  


As you know change is a constant in our lives, and it is essential for personal and organizational growth. However, as we navigate through change and tell others about changes, we need to be aware of the theories and frameworks that guide us.  

This might not be a surprise to you but at Actee we often get pesky comments about changes to applied theories or comments about how the way we have described the theory is outdated.

Change management theories are constantly evolving and over the years, some consultants seem to get annoyed about changes that need to happen to keep track and follow the context they operate in. 

My advice will be to stick to the theory version you think fits the need ad hand! Do not get caught by the rush of being in front of the curve. What matters is the learning outcome, which is covered by knowing the context of the work being done.

See my old blog about The CLICK Model.


Kotter Has Changed

The most recent article by Kotter on this topic is "Accelerate!" published in November 2012 (10 years OLD and still the most used change theory in our games).  

In this article, Kotter introduced a new framework called "The Dual Operating System" that complements the original 8-Step Model from 1996. 

Here are the steps to illustrate the new Dual Operating System framework that impacted the original theory work: 

1. Build a guiding coalition: This step is similar to step 2 in the original model and involves creating a team of people with the skills and influence to lead the change effort.

2. Form a change vision and strategic initiatives: This step combines steps 3 and 4 in the original model and involves developing a clear and compelling vision for change, as well as specific initiatives to achieve the vision. 

3. Enlist a volunteer army: This step involves mobilizing a large group of people across the organization to support the change effort and drive progress. 

4. Enable action by removing barriers: This step is similar to step 5 in the original model and involves removing obstacles that may prevent people from taking action on the change initiatives. 

5. Generate short-term wins: This step is similar to step 6 in the original model and involves creating small successes that build momentum and demonstrate progress. 

6. Sustain acceleration: This step is focused on continuing to drive change and build on the early successes. 

7. Institute change: This step involves anchoring the new approaches and behaviours into the organization's culture and making them part of the standard way of doing things. 

8. Anchor new approaches in the organization's culture: This step is similar to step 8 in the original model and involves embedding new behaviours and practices into the organization's culture to ensure long-term sustainability. 


The Resistance To Change The Theory! 

Rick Maurer is a great friend but more importantly a prominent change management expert.

He created the most used resistance framework I know of, to guide leaders to understand how we react to change in organizations. Rick's resistance work has now been updated and he has developed the “Energy Bar” approach building on this resistance work.       

Maurer's resistance levels and his Energy Bar work are related in that they both seek to help change leaders understand and address resistance to change. However, they approach the issue from slightly different perspectives. 

Maurer's resistance levels provide a framework for understanding the different types of resistance that individuals may experience when facing a change. By identifying the level of resistance, change leaders can develop strategies to address the specific concerns and objections of individuals. This approach emphasizes the importance of understanding the root causes of resistance and addressing them in order to build support for change. 

On the other hand, the Energy Bar approach is a visual tool that helps change leaders understand the overall level of energy and engagement among stakeholders in a change effort. By visualizing the levels of energy and engagement, change leaders can identify which stakeholders are fully engaged and supportive, which are neutral or uncertain, and which are resistant or actively opposed to the change. The Energy Bar approach emphasizes the importance of engaging stakeholders and addressing their concerns to build support for change. 

I find both approaches valuable, and they can be used in conjunction with one another to develop a comprehensive strategy for managing change.  

  1. Resistance approach - to understand the different types of resistance and the overall level of engagement. Change leaders can develop targeted strategies to address resistance and build support for change.  
  2. The Energy Bar approach - can help change leaders identify potential barriers to change and develop strategies to overcome them. 

Why Rick has further developed his change approach is the subject of my conversation with Rick on the 27. June 2023, 15:00-15:30 CEST.

Sign up here.


Do You Want To Keep Yourself Updated?  

Despite these updated change theories, some consultants get annoyed about changes that need to happen in designs and materials in order to keep track of and follow the context they operate in. However, change is inevitable, and it is essential to stay up-to-date with new theories and frameworks that can guide us through change.  

Keeping track of updated theories is like IT people wanting to know the new technologies they can use in their work with designs of cool user-friendly technologies. Theories are meant to allow you as a consultant to be able to choose the best match of theory or model approach to a specific problem you are solving.  

In conclusion, all theories have evolved over time, and it is essential to stay up-to-date with new approaches that can guide us. While some consultants may resist change, it is important to embrace new ideas and frameworks that can help us navigate through the ever-changing landscape of organizational development.  

I accepted this rationale back in 2014 and started the process of opening Actee as a gaming platform to be influenced by our users who are consultants. You might want to have a slightly different theoretic approach in the game you want to use - then you simply click on the editing option on any game. 

Join Rick and my discussion on his new work here.

The event is part of my Podcast series called “The Learning Edge - Gamification and L&D” Where I talk to people who are influencing the world of games and learning. Rick has been a great part of our games for years and I like to stay updated on what he is working on. If you like to stay updated, join us at this free live podcast - 30 min event.


Kotter, J. P. (1996). Leading change. Harvard Business Press. 

Kotter, J. P. (2012). Accelerate! Harvard Business Review, 90(11), 44-58. 

Harvard Business Review article by John Kotter that introduced the Dual Operating System framework: 

Maurer, R. (2010). Beyond the wall of resistance: Why 70% of all changes still fail--and what you can do about it. Bard Press. 

Energy Lab | The EnergyBar ( 

Maurer, R. (2022). Exploring Rick Maurer's New Approach to Change Management. LinkedIn. Retrieved from 

Sign up for the free event with Rick Maurer