Applying the Managing Complex Change Model to Personal Finances

In 1987 Dr. Mary Lippitt created the Managing Complex Change Model.   The model illustrates each essential component of complex change, and the problem that results when that component is missing.   

Transformation in personal finances is a similarly complex process, and Lippit’s model is highly applicable to financial change.   

This model is particularly useful in diagnosing the reasons why previous attempts at change may have been ineffective.   

Here is how you can apply the complex change management model to your personal finances, to finally make the changes that you may have been trying valiantly to make for years.

Lippitt’s Complex Change Model


 When we combine goals and values, we get vision.   A crystal-clear vision of where you want to get financially, and how that relates to your personal values, is absolutely essential.

This step is often skipped or abbreviated because authentic values discovery, and goal setting can be challenging, and this typically causes people to flounder due to confusion.  However, the clarity and resulting motivation the comes with being able to articulate our authentic values and goals, can be life-changing.


When it comes to personal finances, there is  foundational knowledge  that is essential for success: an understanding of the financial options available and how those options apply to your own financial situation, combined with  a basic understanding of household cashflow.  

Our beliefs and attitudes about money, shape our behaviour, and by extension our ability to apply our knowledge. The combination of  knowledge, self-awareness about our money attitudes, and healthy financial behaviour equates to skill in the realm of personal finances.


 Financial planning is about building a satisfying life: balancing the needs of our current selves, with our future selves.   There have to be incentives built in all along the way.  The downfall of some financial plans is a lack of balance. Where there is a focus on financial goals such as retirement or debt elimination to the exclusion of all else, it becomes hard to stay focused and make progress.  Incentives help us stay motivated and keep our progress on track.  


The resources needed to successfully create financial change can come in many forms.  One form could be having  access to the optimal financial instruments to implement the plan. Another form of resources could be access to the right experts: a financial planner, a lawyer, an accountant, an investment advisor, or an insurance advisor, would all be potential candidates, depending on your needs.

Action Plan

Very often, people may have all of the other elements in place, but they aren’t clear on how it comes together into a coherent strategy.  The piecemeal approach often results in many re-starts, and switches in direction mid-stream.  An action plan with clear, achievable steps, is vital to ensuring that you are moving in the right direction.

If you feel stuck with your personal finances, chances are, that your key to getting on track lies in one of these five steps.  

This article was first featured in Forbes Magazine

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