The Four Rooms of Change® is a theory that deals with change, with what happens with people and organizations in transition and with how they can influence the change process by taking responsibility for their emotions and actions. The model was developed by the Swedish psychologist, Claes Janssen, in the late 60s and early 70s as part of his groundbreaking research on the dynamics of change. The four rooms - or psychological states of mind - are Contentment, Self-Censorship & Denial, Confusion & Conflict and Inspiration & Renewal.
If we think of our experience of change in terms of a journey we have to start somewhere; and that is in the 'contentment room'. Everything feels fine, we are relaxed and in control and we have no desire to change anything. Then something happens and our external environment changes. This can happen very quickly or very slowly - either we fall through what Janssen refers to as the 'trap door' as the result of a significant event or we find ourselves gently descending over a period of time into the 'denial room'.
An interesting contrast here might be between working in the traditional newspaper industry which has gradually lost market share to online media over a number of years and working in the financial services industry which experienced the collapse of Lehman Brothers virtually overnight. Denial means that - while we may have general sense that something is different or not quite right - we are very successful at convincing ourselves that everything is okay. We may find ourselves struggling to stay positive or 'putting on a mask' to show others that we are relaxed and in control. Sooner or later we have to face reality and we enter the 'confusion room'.
This is finally where emotions finally take over - fear, anger, sadness, self-doubt and feelings of inferiority are common. This is obviously not a good place to be and many of us make an unconscious choice to go back into denial rather than press on with our journey. But press on we must. By facing our fears and working through the confusion and conflict we can find new hope, new inspiration and a way forward. We have entered the 'renewal room'. Suddenly we have sense of 'getting it all together', we are energized and we experience the desire and find the creative resources to make things happen. Finally we are ready to complete our journey and step back into the contentment room.