Change is an essential part of any organisation. With societal changes and developments in technology, organisations must consistently adapt and make sure that their successes of today can transfer to successes of tomorrow.

That said, change projects are often, understandably, met with a strong resistance – by those fearing it may have a negative impact on their working lives. If such a resistance is not tackled effectively, it threatens to demotivate those involved, and thus nullify any potential progress made. Many organisations try to communicate about why change is positive, but have no clear strategy for doing so, and often risk emboldening the resistance to change before it has started.

An important way to overcome this and implement changes successfully is to unfreeze and refreeze – meaning ‘unfreeze’ the current situation – providing more fluidity and flexibility – and ‘refreeze’ a new one – providing new clarity and structure. In order to unfreeze, a clear case for change must be built, but this must start grounded in the current workings of the organisation. Current weaknesses should be clearly emphasised, with the potential benefits of other ways of doing things elaborated upon. Such an unfreezing is generally quite a tough process, as the status quo becomes less and less attractive.

Just as important as the preparation for change – the unfreezing – is the confirmation that the change has taken place – the refreezing. By clearly communicating when the change project is complete, and institutionalising the change with a clear, tangible difference, those impacted upon by the change can identify a new status quo and retain a level of comfort in their day-to-day operations.

So next time you are overseeing a change project, not matter how big or small, remember to unfreeze and refreeze!

Find out more about managing a change project in BCW’s latest edition of “The New Sports Organisation: Eight Essentials for Renewing the Management of Sport”.

We are the sports practice of global advisory firm Burson Cohn & Wolfe. We provide strategy and communication advice for sports clients around the world. For more information: