Seven Levels: Large to Small

  1. Community: a large (2,000 to 200,000) group of people co-located but with diverse interests, jobs, and circumstances.

    Formal leadership may be through structured political leadership, but there are many subgroups, schools, police, fire depts., churches, and businesses, all variably linked in a complex open structure in which leadership is dispersed and largely informal

  2. Large Organizations, differentiated into many departments, may be dispersed geographically but with coherent established leadership, division of labor, and hierarchy

  3. Coherent medium-sized organizations: schools, medium-sized businesses (100 employees), government departments, local governments, medical facilities.

    Coherent leadership

  4. Small organizations: small (often family) businesses, under 50 employees, school classrooms, university departments, local offices of larger organizations, often with a very small or singular existing leadership.

  5. Very small organizations, families, couples

  6. Individuals

  7. Specific behaviors of individuals

    e.g. the adoption of innovations or new ways of thinking or acting in specific situations


Regardless of size,  or structure of the system undergoing change, The Havelock 7-step change model applies.

For each types  the rules and the focus changes somewhat but the basics stay the same, regardless of the size, the scope  of the project, or the type of problem that is being confronted. emphasis on each stage.

On the other hand, it should be obvious that Types 1, 2, and 3 may require significant resources and more careful consideration of entry strategies.

To enter the situation on firm ground the change agent optimally should:

  1. assess the initial system health, (S-2) and potential for change (S-4),
  2. establish a formal or informal contract to limit expectations,(S-3)
  3. identify members and begin to recruit a change team. 

S-1: What Sort of System?


“Systems” come in all sorts of shapes and sizes. What sort of system are you in? What sort of change agents or teams needed will depend heavily on the nature of the system for which change is contemplated.

The figure suggests the possible range and system types. There are at least three dimensions to consider. Most obvious is size, the shear numbers of people involved in the system, as members, users, clients, or stakeholders omn one kind or another. A second dimension is structure, the extent to which members are held together and  constrained by pre-specified roles, relationships, and expectations. These may range from very tight or rigid to very loose or vague. A third dimension is complexity, signifying the number of different roles and the number of interconnections among members as well as the diversity of system goals.