colors of change

  download publication list
The colors of change refer to contrasting paradigms of change that can be found both in theory and in practice. The colors of change is a metatheory that is used to improve diagnostic efforts, assist in choosing the most viable change strategy and to make intervention plans more congruent. They are also used by change agents to reflect on their own preferred style and to communicate with others about different approaches to change. The colors of change are the best-known part of the handbook ‘Learning to change’. You can also find introductory articles, videos, tests and applications here. The article ‘Creating a colourful model of change’ describes the twenty-year development and refinement of the model and the chapter ‘Color of change revisited’ shows how the model can be understood in very different ways, both in terms of its theoretical foundations as well the complexity of its four practical applications. Especially the last text provides an up to date and concise overview of the color theory. I recommend it.


The colors of change – revisited

In: R. Shani & D. Noumair. Research in Organizational Change and Development (vol. 26) - Emerald, 2018

Hans Vermaak, Léon de Caluwé
Situating and describing the theory and its practical applications

This is the most up to date, complete and concise publication on the colors of change. It is written for both practitioners and academics that want to go beyond the basics. Those who already know about this change theory are likely to be surprised to find there is more to both the model and its applications Read more…

Learning to change

A guide for Organizational Change Agents

Léon de Caluwé, Hans Vermaak - Sage, 2003
An overview of change management fundamentals

‘Learning to Change’ provides a comprehensive overview of organizational change theories and practices developed by both U.S. and European change theorists. The authors compare and contrast different approaches: five fundamentally different ways of thinking about change Read more…

Creating a colorful model of change

Reflection on developing a theory as scholar-practitioners

Hans Vermaak, Léon de Caluwé- Journal of Management Inquiry, 2017

This article describes how, almost twenty years ago, we came up with a meta-theory of change, now referred to as the “color model,” and how that theory has developed over time. We look back, using Smith and Hitt’s four-stage model of theory development, to better understand how one creative idea took on many manifestations, became a robust theory and is now widely used. Read more…

Knowing yourself as a change agent

In: D. W. Jamieson, Barnett & A Buono (eds.) Consultation for Organizational Change Revisited - Information Age Publishing, 2016

Léon de Caluwé, Hans Vermaak
A validated test based on a colorful theory of change

This chapter presents a questionnaire that measures individual change preferences based on a meta-theory of five paradigms of change. We describe its construction and improvement over a 13-year period, during which time more than 100,000 people have used the test as an instrument for self-reflection.
Read more…

Thinking in colors – on video

Five ways to deal with change

Léon de Caluwé, Hans Vermaak – Twynstra Gudde/Alcatel, 2008
Introduction into five different 'worlds' of change

Léon de Caluwé and Hans Vermaak present briefly five fundamentally different ways of thinking about change. Each of these represents a different belief system and conviction about how change works, the kind of interventions that are effective, how to change people, etc. They are labeled by color: yellow, blue, red, green, and white print thinking. Their color-model is based on their observations of current practices and existing theories about change. Read more…

The color test for change agents

How do you think about change?

Léon de Caluwé, Hans Vermaak – Twynstra Gudde, 2001
Assess your style preference

This is an interactive test that helps you identify your convictions about change. The test results can be used to assess what type of change agent you are: what you are good at and what could be developed further. Read more…

Change paradigms

An overview

Léon de Caluwé, Hans Vermaak – OD journal, 2004
A brief introduction in the ‘colors of change’

The authors present five fundamentally different ways of thinking about change, each representing different beliefs systems and convictions about how change works, the kind of interventions that are effective, how to change people, etc. Read more…

OD without context management is a luxury item.

Paper for a symposium on the future of Organizational Development

Hans Vermaak, Annual Academy of management Conference, 2006
Organization Development suffers from a lack of pragmatism about power

OD has an established tradition. There is a community of practice, academic research, handbooks in all sorts, development of new practices, lots of publications, proven methods. All seems fine. At the same time there is recurrent talk and publications expressing worry about the future of OD. Read more…

Comparing psychotherapists’ and change agents’ approaches to change

In: A. Buono (ed.) Creative Consulting: Innovative Perspectives on Management Consulting - Information Age Publishing, 2004

Léon de Caluwé, Frans Que, Hans Vermaak
What can change agents and therapists learn from each other?

In this chapter we explore the most prominent clusters of theories for changing organizations and changing people. Managers and management consultants make use of the first set of theories while psychotherapist use the latter. Our assumption was that there would be considerable overlap between these sets of theories. Read more…

Thinking about Change: Complexity and Multiplicity in Change Processes

In: J. Boonstra (ed): Dynamics in Organizational Change and Learning - Wiley, 2004

Léon de Caluwé, Hans Vermaak
Theories about why change does not work. And theories about how differently change works when it does.

Given that more organizational change takes place unplanned than planned and more unsuccessful than successful, we think there is justification for reflection on why change does not work. This implies complexifying things rather than simplifying them: to search for hidden rules of the game, for informal processes, political mechanisms in organizations, etc. Read more…

Book Review ‘Learning to Change’

A guide for Organization Change Agents

Alan Clardy – Perssonel Psychology, 2003

[…] The authors identify and integrate a large and disparate literature, and, in the process, do a nice job both summarizing and advancing it. The text is supplemented by high quality tables and charts that provide easy-to-use visual summaries or aides for comparison. For American readers, the book introduces works from European scholars who may not be that well known. Read more…

At least ten islands of learning

In Search of Corporate Learning

Léon de Caluwé, Hans Vermaak, Jos van der Woude – Twynstra, 1999
Exploring a common language for talking about learning

People learn, all the time and everywhere. Yet it seems we all have our own images and ideas about what learning actually is. More importantly, we all seem to have our favourite approaches to learning, which we call upon whenever a learning situation arises. Read more…

Book Review ‘Learning to Change’

A guide for Organization Change Agents

Jeanne Zaptin - Journal of Organizational Change Management, 2003

For professionals involved in change management and students wanting to gain insight into the field, ‘Learning to Change’ is an excellent resource. The authors, Léon de Caluwé, and Hans Vermaak, take a theoretical and practical approach to the subject. Read more…