Léon de Caluwé and Hans Vermaak are social scientists who together published their research on organizational change. They both have practical experience of practicing change at different organizations. Also they provide consultancy services to different business entities who are adopting change. 

They present a unique model that explains change management in five colours. These colours represent attitude towards change. Every colour represents different thinking pattern, views about change, how it works, how people react to change and how change will be managed. 

The five colours of change are as follows:

  1. Yellow-print thinking = politics and power
  2. Blue-print thinking = planning, implementation and monitoring 
  3. Red-print thinking = motivation and managing people
  4. Green-print thinking = development and learning
  5. White-print thinking = natural and organic

Yellow-Print Thinking 

Yellow symbolizes the sun and fire so it is the colour of the power. Yellow-print thinking reflects power play, interest, conflict and politics with in organization. And these are the powerful determinants of organizational change. As per this thinking, power groups and strong coalitions driven by personal interests are required to lead and execute change. For this to happen, direct communication, cooperation, negotiation and conflict resolution are among the best approaches to form coalitions and power blocks which support change. 

Blue-Print Thinking 

Blue-print thinking is about planning, implementation and monitoring. It is based on the assumption that change will be implemented successfully if clear work plans are made with timelines and setting milestones. Then, implementation is started on the basis of agreed planning. To keep the progress checked, it is necessary to monitor the actions and results. And key of this entire process is to have a clear implementation and monitoring plans. Any change leader who thinks about change in blue print thinking, must be be highly organized and pays full attention to even minor details. 

Red-Print Thinking 

Red-print thinking revolves around human resource management. It is about motivating employees to adopt to change through giving them rewards and benefits. Therefore, Organization should also focus on developing skills and knowledge base of employees who will execute change. The focus of organization should not only to improve skills and knowledge of employees but it should also engage employees in a way that their attitude and acceptance towards change is built which will give stability to change. The change leader of red print thinking should be excellent at managing and motivating people. 

Green-Print Thinking 

Green-print thinking focus on learning and development. Since, it is about getting ideas to work and letting people do what they learn so this is reason behind green colour. In the process of change, employees are given opportunities to learn new things and apply their learning to achieve desired outcomes. This process strengthens capacities of employees and also producing new skills and expertise at organizational level. For this to happen, organizations need to provide with learning opportunities for everyone through coaching, mentoring, leadership, formal training and feedback mechanism. The change leader in green print thinking should be an excellent facilitator, motivators and supportive to his/her team. 

White-print thinking

The white colour reflects all colours. It represents openness and it encompasses all in one. Change is an evolutionary process and it happens when new structures are formed, new values are installed in organizational culture and desired behaviours are practiced. The change leaders which believe in white print thinking are real influencers of change and they are gifted with problem solving abilities.

Why to use 5 colours model of change management 

  • Communicating about change through five colours model is always fun. As there are many people involved in change process and they have their own understanding and perceptions about change. Therefore, any bad communication can negatively affect the outcome. Using this model makes everyone easy to understand others’ perspective and allows change leaders to categories people on the basis of colours used in this model. 
  • This model also helps to identify what are beliefs of different groups in an organizations and what are possible methods and ways to engage them to achieve change. In a way this is a diagnostic tool which inform patterns, obstacles and solution to implement change. 
  • This model presents a roadmap and strategies to execute change. Knowing the capacities of employees, values system at organization, and external opportunities, it also offers the best approach to follow to achieve the desired destination.
  • Change leaders can largely benefit form this model. By applying this model, they are in position to know each employee about his assumptions, competencies, abilities, motivation and limitations. They can identify areas for improvement which are essential for entire change process. 

Take Home Points:

  • This is an interesting and unique model which focus on how people think about change and how change will happen in an organization. 
  • It explains change management by 5 colours -Yellow, Blue, Red, Green and White. 
  • Yellow colour refers to politics and power within organization. 
  • Blue colour refers to planning, implementation and monitoring. 
  • Red colour refers to motivation and managing people.
  • Green colour refers to development and learning.
  • White colour refers to natural evolution process of change at organization.