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Conner's Change Model

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Charting Change with Conner

In the vast ocean of organizational change, Conner's Change Model emerges as a guiding compass. Daryl Conner, an expert in the realm of change management, developed this model to assist organizations in understanding and navigating the complexities of change. As the world grapples with rapid technological upheavals, demographic dynamism, and societal transformations, Conner's model remains pivotal in deciphering the human and organizational responses to change.

The essence of Conner's Change Model is its keen focus on the human side of change. It delves deep into the emotional and psychological journey that individuals undergo as they face change:

  1. Uninformed Optimism: Initial excitement and positivity about the change without fully grasping its implications.

  2. Informed Pessimism: As realities set in, doubt and resistance emerge.

  3. Hopeful Realism: A turning point where the focus shifts to problem-solving and looking for ways to make the change work.

  4. Informed Optimism: Having navigated the challenges, optimism returns, but it's now rooted in a realistic understanding of the change.

  5. Completion: The change is fully integrated, and there's a return to productivity and normalcy.

Embark on a journey with Conner's Change Model, and unearth the intricacies of human reactions to change.


Conner's Change Model brings forth numerous advantages:

  • Human-centric Approach: It offers insights into the emotional and psychological responses to change.

  • Predictive Analysis: Anticipate potential resistance and challenges during change initiatives.

  • Tailored Interventions: Design interventions based on where individuals or teams are in the change curve.

  • Enhanced Communication: Craft targeted communication strategies aligning with different stages of the change journey.

  • Increased Buy-in: By understanding and addressing concerns, secure greater buy-in from stakeholders.

When to use

Conner's model shines brightly:

  1. Change Initiatives: During any organizational change, from mergers to digital transformations.

  2. Resistance Management: To identify and address pockets of resistance during change initiatives.

  3. Team Building: To foster understanding and empathy among team members during change.

  4. Leadership Training: Equip leaders with the tools to guide their teams through change effectively.

  5. Stakeholder Engagement: To craft targeted engagement strategies based on where stakeholders are in the change journey.

OD Application

Conner's Change Model: Sculpting Pathways to Well-being and Prosperity in Organizations

In the rich tapestry of change management methodologies, Conner's Change Model emerges as a beacon, providing organizations with a roadmap to navigate the turbulent waters of transformation. Developed by Daryl Conner, this model advocates for a deep understanding of the human side of change, focusing on the emotional and psychological transitions that individuals undergo during organizational shifts. As we delve into this insightful model, we will shed light on its profound potential to foster organizational "Well-being" and "Prosperity."

Fostering Organizational Well-being with Conner's Change Model

Crafting a Culture of Empathy and Understanding:Central to Conner's Change Model is the acknowledgment of the emotional and psychological journeys that individuals embark upon during change. By recognizing and validating these experiences, organizations cultivate a culture steeped in empathy, understanding, and mutual respect.

Social Psychology and Emotional Resilience:Conner's model emphasizes the myriad emotions that individuals grapple with during change—from denial and resistance to exploration and commitment. By addressing these emotions head-on, organizations bolster emotional resilience, ensuring that members are equipped to cope with and adapt to change in a healthy manner.

Empowerment Through Personal Transition:By focusing on the personal transitions that accompany organizational change, Conner's model ensures that individuals are not mere spectators but active participants in the change journey. This fosters a sense of empowerment, ownership, and alignment with organizational objectives.

Charting the Course to Organizational Prosperity with Conner's Change Model

Strategic Alignment through Emotional Engagement:Conner's model underscores the importance of engaging with individuals at an emotional level, ensuring that they are not only cognitively but also emotionally aligned with the change vision. This fosters a deeper connection with the organizational strategy, paving the way for its successful realization.

Operational Excellence through Individual Commitment:By addressing resistance and fostering exploration and commitment, Conner's Change Model ensures that individuals are fully onboard with the operational shifts. This ensures smoother transitions, reduced disruptions, and heightened operational efficiency.

Sustained Growth through Emotional Resilience:Conner's model, with its emphasis on emotional resilience, ensures that organizations are equipped to handle not just the current change but are also primed for future shifts. This resilience translates to sustained growth, adaptability, and long-term success.

Discerning the Alignment: Is Conner's Change Model the Navigational Beacon?

While Conner's Change Model offers a deep dive into the emotional and psychological facets of change, its alignment with an organization's unique context and challenges warrants discernment. Here's where Conner's model shines:

  • Human-centric Changes: For changes that have profound implications on the human element of organizations—be it restructuring, cultural shifts, or role transitions—Conner's model provides invaluable insights.

  • Stakeholder Engagement: In scenarios where individual buy-in and commitment are pivotal for the success of change initiatives, the emotional focus of Conner's model resonates powerfully.

  • Long-term Transformations: For organizations looking at long-term transformations that require sustained individual commitment, Conner's Change Model proves indispensable.

However, for changes that are predominantly technical, or where the human element is not the primary focus, the deep emotional emphasis of Conner's model might need to be complemented with more task-oriented change management approaches.

Tailoring and Navigating Conner's Change Model

To truly harness the transformative essence of Conner's Change Model, it must be tailored to resonate with the organization's unique context. A roadmap for OD consultants:

  • Engaging Introduction: Begin by elucidating the tenets of Conner's Change Model, emphasizing the emotional and psychological journeys individuals undertake during change.

  • Facilitate Emotional Workshops: Organize sessions where individuals can openly discuss, validate, and address their emotions related to the change, ensuring a deep-rooted understanding and alignment with Conner's principles.

  • Continuous Support and Counseling: Offer relentless emotional support, providing platforms for individuals to address their fears, anxieties, and uncertainties related to the change.

  • Feedback Mechanisms: Establish channels for feedback, enabling members to share their emotional journeys, insights, and suggestions related to their change experience.

Sensing the Transformation: Conner's Change Model in Action

The transformative essence of Conner's Change Model, when deeply embedded in change strategies, can be palpably sensed across various levels:

  • Individual Level: Enhanced emotional well-being, a deep sense of understanding and validation, and empowerment through active participation in the change journey.

  • Team Level: Cohesive change adoption, mutual emotional support, and a collective sense of direction and commitment.

  • Organizational Level: Strategic alignment anchored in emotional commitment, operational excellence rooted in individual buy-in, and a culture championing empathy, resilience, and sustained growth.

Conner's Change Model, with its deep dive into the emotional and psychological realms of change, offers organizations a beacon to navigate the intricate terrains of transformation. It champions the cause of empathy, emotional resilience, and individual empowerment. For organizations poised at the crossroads of well-being and prosperity, Conner's Change Model stands as a guiding light, illuminating the pathways to a compassionate, resilient, and thriving future.


Healthcare: Digital Health Records

A healthcare institution transitioning to digital health records employed Conner's model. Recognizing the initial uninformed optimism, they provided detailed training sessions. As staff moved to informed pessimism, additional support and troubleshooting were provided. Through hopeful realism and informed optimism, the institution successfully integrated digital records.

Outcome: Smooth transition with minimal disruptions, leading to enhanced patient care.

Technology: Agile Transformation

A software company transitioning to agile methodologies used Conner's model. Recognizing the uninformed optimism, they engaged experts for hands-on training. As teams hit informed pessimism, mentorship programs were introduced. Through iterative processes and continuous feedback, the company successfully adopted agile methodologies.

Outcome: Increased productivity, faster product releases, and enhanced team collaboration.

Non-Profit: Organizational Restructuring

A non-profit organization, facing restructuring, turned to Conner's model. They began with transparent communications, addressing the uninformed optimism. As teams faced informed pessimism, leadership held open forums to address concerns. By involving employees in decision-making, they navigated to informed optimism and successful restructuring.

Outcome: A restructured organization better aligned with its mission and goals.

Facilitator Notes

How to Introduce Conner's Change Model

Begin by acknowledging the human side of change, emphasizing the emotional and psychological journey individuals undergo. Introduce Conner's model as a guide to this journey, elucidating each phase with real-world examples.

Sample Introduction Script

"Change, while inevitable, brings forth a whirlwind of emotions and reactions. Enter Conner's Change Model, a compass to navigate these turbulent waters. Developed by change expert Daryl Conner, this model delves into our very human responses to change. From the initial excitement to doubts and eventual acceptance, join me as we chart this fascinating journey."

Helpful Facilitator Questions

  1. Can you recall a change where you experienced the phases of Conner's model?

  2. How can organizations support their employees during the informed pessimism phase?

  3. What strategies can be employed to shift from informed pessimism to hopeful realism?

  4. How does leadership play a role in guiding teams through the change curve?

  5. How can Conner's model be integrated with other change management tools?

Conquering Change Challenges with Conner

Diving into Conner's model might evoke diverse emotions and reactions. Some might find it too structured, while others might resonate deeply. Address these nuances by sharing stories and anecdotes, allowing individuals to see themselves in the model. Encourage open dialogue, fostering a safe space for individuals to share their change experiences. The aim is to highlight the universality of change reactions, bridging gaps, and building understanding.

Success Indicators: Charting Change with Conner

Successful implementation of Conner's model is evident when:

  1. Emotional Acknowledgment: Emotional and psychological responses to change are recognized and addressed.

  2. Targeted Support: Interventions and support mechanisms align with the different phases of the change journey.

  3. Stakeholder Engagement: Enhanced buy-in and reduced resistance from stakeholders.

  4. Seamless Transitions: Smooth transitions through the change curve, leading to successful change integrations.

  5. Continuous Learning: Regular reflections and learning sessions post change initiatives, fostering continuous improvement.

Deep Dive

Related Theories

Kubler-Ross Change Curve (Elisabeth Kubler-Ross) Field: Psychology

Originating from the stages of grief, this curve explores the emotional journey during change, aligning closely with Conner's model.

Lewin's Change Management Model (Kurt Lewin) Field: Psychology

Lewin's three-stage model of change (unfreeze-change-refreeze) complements Conner's detailed change journey.

ADKAR Model (Jeffrey Hiatt) Field: Change Management

The ADKAR model, focusing on individual change, offers a structured approach that parallels Conner's change journey.


  1. How does Conner's model align with your personal experiences of change?

  2. What strategies can organizations employ to support individuals during challenging phases of the change curve?

  3. How do cultural and societal norms influence the change journey?

  4. In what scenarios might Conner's model need adaptations or modifications?

  5. How can the model be integrated into an organization's overall change management strategy?


Here are five highly relevant, intellectually stimulating, and practical research questions:

  1. How does Conner's Change Model influence organizational culture during major change initiatives?

  2. What are the impacts of leadership styles on the effectiveness of Conner's model?

  3. How can Conner's model be adapted for diverse cultural and regional contexts?

  4. What role does communication play in the success of Conner's model during change initiatives?

  5. How does Conner's model align with modern digital transformations in businesses?


  1. "Managing at the Speed of Change" by Daryl Conner Conner's seminal work provides an in-depth exploration of his change model and its applications.

  2. "Leading Change" by John P. Kotter Kotter's insights into change management complement Conner's focus on the human side of change.

  3. "Switch: How to Change Things When Change Is Hard" by Chip and Dan Heath The Heath brothers delve into the psychology of change, providing a fresh perspective that aligns with Conner's model.


Conner's Change Model, with its keen focus on the human side of change, emerges as a beacon for organizations navigating the complex waters of change. As we sail through an era marked by constant transformations, understanding this model offers a deep dive into the very human reactions to change. So, embark on this journey with Conner, and chart your course to successful change with clarity and compassion.

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