Lewin stated that we need to understand the situation and system as a whole as well as the component parts that make up the system. Before change can occur, an unfreezing process must happen within that system. Unfreezing focuses on the need to dislodge the beliefs and assumptions of those who need to engage in systemic alterations to the status quo. The unfreezing process might occur because of some crisis. For example, new competitive products that are attacking the major profit centers of a private enterprise might be a sufficient shock to the organization to “unfreeze” patterns. In this example, the balance in the system must be disrupted or broken in order to permit conditions for change to develop. Some top managers even talk about “creating a crisis” in order to develop the sense of urgency around the need for change.
When this unfreezing occurs, the people who are embedded in the systems become susceptible to change. Systems and structures, beliefs, and habits become fluid and thus can shift more easily. Once the change has been completed, these systems, structures, beliefs, and habits can refreeze in their new form.
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