“The Kübler-Ross model describes, in five discrete stages, the process by which people deal with grief and tragedy. Terminally ill patients are said to experience these stages. The model was introduced by Elisabeth Kübler-Ross in her 1969 book "On Death and Dying". The stages have become well-known as the "Five Stages of Grief.
The stages are:
- Denial: The initial stage: ‘It can't be happening.’
- Anger: ‘Why ME? It's not fair!’ (either referring to God, oneself, or anybody perceived, rightly or wrongly, as "responsible")
- Bargaining: ‘Just let me live to see my child(ren) graduate.’
- Depression: ‘I'm so sad, why bother with anything?’
- Acceptance: ‘It's going to be OK.’
Kübler-Ross originally applied these stages to any form of catastrophic personal loss (job, income, freedom). This also includes the death of a loved one and divorce. Kübler-Ross also claimed these steps do not necessarily come in order, nor are they all experienced by all patients, though she stated a person will always experience at least two.” (Wikipedia)
The fives stages of grief have been applied by others to organizational change. For example, Deone Zell in the article, "Organizational Change as a Process of Death, Dying, and Rebirth" (The Journal of Applied Behavioral Science, Vol. 39, No.1, 73-96, 2003) makes the case that the change process closely resembled that of death and dying idenified by Kubler-Ross.
Further, the Army’s Enterprise Solution Competency Center (
What we see is that the human response to change is closely aligned to how people respond when something bad happens—i.e. people associate change with something bad happening to them. Therefore, to manage change, we need to understand the human responses as developed by Kubler-Ross, as well as the suggested ways to overcome those, such as presented by the Army ESCC.
User-centric EA is a planning and governance endeavor which by definition involves change and the management of change. Thus, EA practitioners need to understand human response to change and how to effectively deal with it.
Some important examples from Army ESCC of how to respond:
- Denial: “emphasize that change will happen.” and “allow time for change to sink in.”
- Anger: “distinguish between feelings and inappropriate behavior” and “redirect the blame from the change agent to the real reason necessitating the change (goals of the organization/business case)”
- Bargaining: “focus on how the individual or their area will benefit from the change.”
- Depression: “provide a series of specific next steps and follow-up frequently” and “reinforce positive actions the individual takes.”
- Acceptance: “use the individual as a coach or mentor for others” and “provide recognition for their efforts.”