Change Management: Sarah model

Change Management: Sarah model

By Venanzio Figliolino

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Change Management: Sarah model

Free proactive choice, the ability to break away from habits that are no longer functional to a new changed environment taking new roads and responsible, has four fundamental assumptions:

  1. Awareness: recognizing that a behavior, habit or situation are not functional than the current context
  2. independent will: to want to change, choose, anticipate; This involves effort, efforts, including fatigue (fatigue that would take us to resist)
  3. imagination: the capacity to think of alternatives or the resourcefulness to get help identify different actions
  4. consciousness: an agreement with their own personal values, with the important things in themselves in for their lives 

Wave model


Change is like a wave that comes and gives us the choice to handle it or not. The face of change we can have different attitudes and behaviors.For example, we can have attitudes and ...

behaviors Against: we are the opponents compared to the change. On the contrary we can have attitudes and behaviors favorable: we ourselves Promoters of Change. We can have favorable attitudes but do not transform in behavior: we are Promoters Potential. Finally we can have consistent behavior towards of change, but our attitude is negative: Hidden opponents

Which position are you?

In what position you are now your employees?

How can you help?


Sarah Model


Though change has become a central phenomenon in most businesses today, it can be complicated to enforce, regardless of the size of the business. Having a model to draw on can help to understand and ease the process of change for affected stakeholders.

Negative consequences may be manifested if the process of change is not carefully managed. Change agents need to put well-defined measures in place to ensure that the positive impact of the proposed change outweighs the negative. The SARAH model of change defines the stages majority of people go through as they adapt to change. SARAH is an abbreviation for:

  • Shock
  • Anger
  • Resistance
  • Acceptance, and
  • Healing/Hope

By understanding the change model, change agents, who are also business analysts in some organizations, can assist stakeholders by providing the support they need from the inception of the project till implementation. Depending on the personality of the stakeholder and their circumstances, they may experience all or some of these emotions as they cope with change:


People react with shock or denial when they are newly introduced to change. This stage requires that stakeholders are provided with the historical and background information they need to comprehend the reasons for the change and the intended outcome. Communication is key here.

BEHAVIOUR VIEWABLE: The person does not understand, is dominated by the problem, can not do anything and take actions (fear is an emotion that often paralyzes or brakes)
HELP THE PERSON: Stay close, giving a lifeline, be present. Also keep in physical proximity
MANAGEMENT ASSISTANT: Provide direct assistance "can I help you with this?" Assign simple tasks, clear, individual (no processes but small task)


Shock can manifest into anger or anxiety once people realise the implications of change. Change agents should keep in mind the objections or fears stakeholders may have and work on addressing them before they get out of hand.

This stage requires that change agents take action to mitigate the impact of the change on staff morale.

BEHAVIOUR VIEWABLE: the person gets angry, opposes covertly or overtly spreading discontent.
HELP THE PERSON: Active listening, act as a sounding board: listening, I repeat, I try to understand the point and I realize that I understand
MANAGEMENT ASSISTANT: cautious feedback on actions (eg. To consider that these behaviors do not change the new status quo) "Minimal additional task": distracted with small additional task (also related to the change)


A period of resistance may be experienced. Sometimes, business stakeholders do resist change. Change agents should be prepared to address such situations by seeking management support or intervention, where necessary.

BEHAVIOUR VIEWABLE: It behaves as if nothing had happened. Deny the change (eg. Caters to the old manager, acts as if it were not for the new procedure). It challenges all for anything, apathy, cynicism, self-pity, feeling of loss and injustice, feeling that the world has control over them, vulnerabilities, stand by.
HELP THE PERSON: Active listening but without collusion, trying to bring out the reasons, to give voice to the pain. Reorient / reframe the future: to restore a vision that there will be a later, offer a vision of the opportunities that exist
MANAGEMENT ASSISTANT: cautious feedback on actions (eg. To indicate correct interlocutors)
SMALL WINS: give positive feedback on every little good thing, encourage the person.


This stage occurs when stakeholders have come to terms with the change and are ready to accept or live with it. When stakeholders embrace change, benefits can be realised. Once stakeholders are at this point, the affirmative effects of change become obvious.  

BEHAVIOUR VIEWABLE: test with greater focus. You are venturing
seriously. But here too can make mistakes and deal with the crisis.
HELP THE PERSON: Supporting self-esteem, encourage.
MANAGEMENT ASSISTANT: Keeping alive the vision (see previous step)
Encourage the taking of some risks. Give positive feedback and some cautious corrective feedback where the person can accept it


At this point, new behaviour is manifested. Stakeholders must realise that change does not happen at once and that falling back to old habits can be a normal occurrence. They should however, be encouraged to keep trying whenever they fall back into old behaviour.

BEHAVIOUR VIEWABLE: The future is now the present
HELP THE PERSON: you do not need a specific action.
MANAGEMENT ASSISTANT: Helping to balance learning, help develop additional skills, always uphold the vision.

Individuals may act in different ways. The challenge to businesses therefore lies in deciding what it is precisely that they hope to change and how they plan to achieve it, taking all the potential feelings that stakeholders may express into consideration.

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Venanzio Figliolino

Process Excellence Lead & Founder of Lean Six Sigma Community

Management engineer with 15+ years of experiences in multinational companies, employed in different roles but with common goals: Continuos Improvement, processes standardization & optimization.

I'm trainer and consultant about Lean & Six Sigma methodologies, I love to help organizations to improve their performances in terms of times/costs/defects/spaces reductions.

I founded Lean Six Sigma University & Community, two synergic projects developed for creating a common place where learn and divulgate knowledges about Lean and Six Sigma methodologies applied to different ambits.

The application of Lean & Six Sigma methods are not simply methods learned and applied, it is a cultural change.