Change quadrants
Big Business
Change quadrants

Change quadrants
Another way of looking at the nature of change and your business culture

The big idea

The change quadrants model (ten Have, ten Have, Stevens, & van der Elst, 2003) is a framework for helping you to take account of the culture of your business during a change process. The idea behind the model is that your approach to a particular change or initiative will depend on the nature of your organisation, whether it is warm or cold and whether the change is warm or cold.

A cold organisation is one that has a command and control approach, systems, procedures and structures which drive the direction of the organisation to ensure it achieves its goals. A warm organisation operates on the basis of shared values; it is reliant on a shared commitment to the direction of the business.

A cold change is based on a clearly identifiable situation or crisis such as a drop in revenue, downturn in customers or audiences, or near insolvency. A warm change, however, is generally internally driven by personal and professional ambitions and aspirations.


Thinking about change in terms of organisational culture encourages you to take account of the kind of business you are running. In doing so you can look at the types of change initiative that are most likely to be effective. You can also use it as a mechanism following a change project to understand what worked and why or, conversely, why you encountered some of the challenges you did.

Based on your assessment of the temperature of your organisation and the change, there are four possible strategies:

  • Intervene: change systems to respond to a clear, identifiable problem or issue
  • Transform: change direction of commitment in response to an identifiable issue
  • Innovate: change focus of commitment in response to a possible opportunity
  • Implement: change systems and procedures in response to a possible opportunity

The Tool

The tool provides you with a scale on which to rate your organisation and your change project. You can then look at the change strategy that might be right for your business. This is a tool you can use on your own or with a group. Completing the rating scale should be a quick exercise.