Colorado educators inspired this tool. Teacher leaders — or liaisons — in the 2013-2014 Integration Liaison Project recognized the power of their conversations with teachers, building and district leaders, and other stakeholders as they piloted the state’s new academic standards for students and new evaluation system for educators. The liaisons learned that people engaged with the change process in different ways and at different times. To move forward, it was necessary to adapt conversations to meet individuals where they were in the change process.

The stages in this tool are based on the behavior change model developed by researchers James O. Prochaska and Carlo DiClemente. Their work in the late 1970s concluded that behavior change takes place through a series of stages. Over the decades, the model has been rigorously tested, challenged, validated, and expanded upon.


This Navigating Change tool from The Colorado Education Initiative (CEI) is for anyone leading or managing an individual, small-group, or large-group change process. It maximizes the power of conversation by meeting people where they are in the change process — and moving them toward sustainable change.

How to Use This Tool

How leaders choose to manage change is crucial. This tool can help determine where people are in the change process based on what you’re seeing and hearing. It also provides an overview of the stages of change, guiding questions to help people move forward, and examples from the field.

Helpful hints:

  • There are multiple “entry-points” into this tool — use it in the way that best helps your work.
  • The lists of what you may “see” and “hear” at each stage should be viewed as starting points; there may be additional examples you may encounter in your own change processes.
  • The questions you might ask can be used to confirm your initial thoughts, as well as to initiate thinking toward the next stage.

Keep in mind:

  • Multiple change processes could happen at the same time with the same individual or group.
  • A group may be at one stage of the change process, and at the same time, individuals within that group may be a different stages.
  • Change is truly a journey — it takes time, and it’s rarely a linear process!