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James Smith

Kirklees Metropolitan Council

Training Officer

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Fisher Change Curve Questionnaire


Hi folks,

Doing some work around the placing people on the Fisher Change Curve. Is anyone aware of a standard questionnaire (preferably) or methodology for plotting where people are on the curve?

Thanks in advance


8 Responses

  1. not so far as I know…..

    …probably because it is generally accepted that some people may go through certain phases very quickly so capturing where they are at any one time may be a) almost impossible and b) potentially of little value.


    In my experience some folk actually go round parts of it repeatedly making it more of a cycle, before they are able to move on.  This seems particularly prevelant when they share the story of the change with others; eg ‘I had just about accepted it all and was ready to move until I discussed it with my wife/father/brother/boss/union rep but at that discussion I realised…….and went back to square one.’


    Sorry if that isn’t very helpful!


  2. Change

    People go through three phases of change.  I believe Curt Lewin said:

    1.  Unfreeze (or thaw the desire to do things the old way) showing people why change is necessary

    2.  Introduce change (slowly, with the benefits and reasons for it and consequences if it isn’t adopted)

    3.  Refreeze (committing to the new way)

    You could call this a curve, but it is more of a progression.  And the only way to know where someone is in the three steps is to engage the person and observe behavior / committment to the change.

       John B. Stevens

  3. Placing people on the change curve

    Hello James

    I’m not aware of any questionnaire to help people identify where they are on the change curve, but in my experience people don’t need to complete a questionnaire to work this out. I run lots of training to help people to understand and deal with change, and usually do the following, which works really well:

    First, introduce the model and explain the curve and its different stages. Then ask people to suggest what emotions and what behaviours are likely to be experienced at each stage and flipchart these. Then put people into pairs and ask them to talk to their partner about what emotions they are experiencing and what behaviours they are displaying in relation to whatever change they are currently going through. Through this discussion with their partner they should be able to identify what stage on the curve they are at.

    While they are doing this, I set out a large thick rope on the floor in the shape of the curve, and add a set of labels for the different stages. Then I get people to come up and all stand on the section of the curve which they have identified they are on. By getting everyone up to do this together, people can see where they all are in relation to each other, making it very visual. This helps people to really see and understand that different people may be at different stages, and helps them to understand and support each other better through the process. We usually have some very interesting and enlightening discussions at this stage, and depending on the group and their situation, may focus on issues such as helping people to see when they have got "stuck" and looking at why this is and what they could do to help themselves and each other etc.

    I hope this is useful.

    Best wishes

    Nicki Davey, Saltbox Training & Events

  4. Change curves in many ways


    The Fisher change curve helps makes some useful points but, like similar models (eg Kubler-Ross), it comes at individuals’ responses to change from a particular perspective. I think it is valid to ask not just where people are on the curve, but also where they are not. In other words, they may be going through a very different curvacious process. Some people are pioneers and risk takers whilst others are more cautious by choice or personality. Some change is universally welcomed from the outset. Sometimes change is managed well (sadly, all too infrequently) and sometimes not. In short, peoples’ reactions are as much a commentary on: a) their disposition to change; b) the nature of the change; and c) how that changed is managed (or perceived to be managed). I don’t believe there is a single response process – or change curve – that applies to all people all the time.

    With that in mind I’d suggest you show the change curve as an illustrative example of a set of reactions someone might go through. Then, ask people to think of a change they have been through recently and to draw their own curve and add their own descriptive words that captured what they felt at the time. Now here is the interesting bit. Ask them to think of a current or imminent change and to draw the curve so far. Now get them to finish the curve as they would like it to be and to write in what they can do to maximise the chances of this happening. They may not be able to affect the change itself, but they may be able to better manage their reactions to that change so that it is more productive (or less damaging) for both themselves and their organisation.

    I think this is likely to be more dynamic, more real and more useful to them than just plotting a position on a theoretical map that they may not be able to relate to. Hope that helps even though it doesn’t answer your question.


    Graham O’Connell

  5. As I thought…

    Thank you all – if I could I would tick all your answers as best replys.

    I daren’t tell you about this particular piece of work for fear of the opprobium that would be heaped on me by the learned folk here! But just to say what you have said completely fits in with my thoughts about conveniently plotting someone on a curve. Let’s hope I can get in there and get this particular project to change tack.

    All power to TrainingZone – just wish others listened!!

  6. Questionnaire for the Fisher change curve

    Hi James and the rest of you guys who answered.

    With the exception of the comment on Lewin, I agree with the rest of the answers, and interestingly I’ve just been asked the same question recently. 

    I haven’t designed any questions to elicit which stage someone is at and agree with Nicki on how she uses the model (and have used rope/string/cable myself in the past).  It is about personal perception and control.  So I ask the individual to identify where they feel they are on the curve (after all George Kelly referred to "person the scientist" and he believed we all interact with our world in a dynamic, experimental way).

    I developed the model out of experience and observation and still find them an effective method to let the individual decide where they are on the curve.

    I’ve always thought of Lewin as an organisational change model rather than a personal change model and don’t disagree with the summary just don’t think it is easily applied to people per se.  I also think it is similar to William Bridge’s transitions model in that it describes the top level structure you have to do rather than "what" you have to do as it is very vague and hides a lot of detail in the superficial "freeze", "change", "re-freeze" headlines.

    1. Thanks for this clarification
      Thanks for this clarification John. It does get confusing when there are so many similar models. Your model is great for opening up awareness. It gives people better consciousness about themselves and therefore choices about how to respond next time a change occurs. It is a great dialogue starter and therefore acts as a catalyst for much self learning.

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