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Change Curve (Elisabeth Kübler-Ross)

In 1969, Dr. Elisabeth Kübler-Ross wrote about the “5 Stages of Death” also known as the “5 Stages of Grief®” , “5 Stages of Loss®” , or just “The 5 Stages.” She identified these stages as defence mechanisms or coping mechanisms to change, loss, and/or shock. The stages were not meant to describe a linear or step-by-step process.

Nonetheless, these 5 stages have been laid out as Denial, Anger, Bargaining, Depression, Acceptance, as this is a common path in understanding how people react emotionally to significant change or loss. It is one of the most widely used models in organisational change efforts.

From the perspective of organisational transformation, this model provides a good basis for managers and leaders to understand how their teams will react, and to identify and react to problems early before they escalate and become real issues.


  • It is objective as it focuses only on people’s natural reactions to change.
  • It is unbiased by any industry or organisation and can therefore be applied to any change.
  • It is easy to understand and use.


  • It does not take into account that individuals may react differently.
  • It is based on observations and can be considered to lack empirical evidence.
  • It is unclear how the stages are affected by each other as they are non-linear and some individuals may not experience all stages.

Recommended Resources:

Elisabeth Kübler-Ross Foundation