De Caluwé and Vermaak

De Caluwé and Vermaak (2004) 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. They are labeled by color: yellow, blue, red, green, and white print thinking.


1. White-print thinking

The principle underlying white-print thinking is that the colour white reflects all colours. In other words, white-print thinking allows room for self-organization and evolution thinking. It denotes openness and this provides the broadest form to lead to the desired changes. This means that the change itself is also a permanent process. Aiming for change means removing obstacles, observing what is happening, analyzing and acting on feelings (internal security). Meaning is crucial in this way of thinking.

2. Green-print thinking

Green-print thinking is about the growth and development of the desired changes. It is about the ideas of people (with their motivation and learning capacity) by means of reflection, knowledge sharing and awareness. The result is not always predictable, as this depends strongly on learning capacity.

3. Red-print thinking

The starting principle of red-print thinking is the human factor. People must be influenced, attracted (for examples with the aid of rewards) and stimulated. HRM management, including HRM tools, are the key to accomplishing the desired changes. Here, it is mainly about responding to the soft aspects of an organization.

4. Blue-print thinking

Blue-print thinking is based on the rational design and implementation of the desired changes. It mainly concerns the controlling, planning and managing of the changes, so that the result is both predictable and clear. The intended changes are especially aimed at matter and form. Irrational aspects are subordinate.

5. Yellow-print thinking

Yellow-print thinking is about power. By managing interests and striving for feasibility within complex objectives, the desired changes are aimed at. The common interests are not always of prime importance and politics play an important role. By having power, the desired changes can be enforced. Obtaining balance is a continuous challenge.

More info can be found here (NL): http://www.leren.nl/cursus/management/verandermanagement/vijf-kleuren-om-te-veranderen.html.



DE CALUWÉ, Léon and VERMAAK, Hans (2004). Change Paradigms: An Overview. Organization Development Journal, 2004.


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