Thinking in Colors

Thinking in Colors - ToolsHero

This article explains the theory of Thinking in Colors by Léon de Caluwé and Hans Vermaak in a practical way. After reading you will understand the basics of this powerful change management tool.
Organizational change can be dealt with in different ways. Léon de Caluwé and Hans Vermaak studied change in the past and together they have developed a useful framework/ overview of five ways of thinking about change processes.
What is Thinking in Colors?
The developed framework of Léon de Caluwé and Hans Vermaak is called Thinking in Colors or the five colors of change and helps becoming aware of other people’s ideas about change.

Thinking in Colors provides points of reference to clarify other people’s ideas about this and to engage in dialogue with each other. The five ways of Thinking in Colors about change are characterized by the following colours:

White-print thinking (natural and organic)
Green-print thinking (development and learning)
Red-print thinking (motivation and a sense of togetherness)
Blue-print thinking (management, planning and control)
Yellow-print thinking (politics and power)

Thinking in Colors: the framework
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, analysing 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 d...

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