The Four Box Model Can Support Workplace Transformation

Posted on

The Four Box Model is a matrix diagram that was initially developed in the 1950s as a time-management tool by president Eisenhower.

Today it has a wide array of applications, including helping to support the organizational change management process. Change can be an uneasy time for employees — senior leaders and management must provide explanation and initiate discussion to ensure full participation by their workforce.

Visual diagrams are a crucial communications tool in organizations, whether in a government institution or a private company. The Four Box Model lets communicators show the advantages and disadvantages of both the status quo and the desired future state. It is meant to encourage understanding and dialogue as an organization moves forward with a change initiative.

four box model illustration

Box 1 represents the negatives of the status quo; box 4 represents the positives of the status quo; box 2 represents the negatives of change; and box 3 represents the positives of change.

All four boxes have impact on people as they consider the change process. The resistance boxes 1 and 3 are initially the most influential, followed by box 4. As they become more aligned with the change message, box 2 will become more appealing.

Filling in these boxes with details for each step of change brings greater understanding for those at all levels of the organization, as senior leaders will also discover factors that they were not fully aware of when they listen to others’ concerns.

Using a four-step methodology to build support can help smooth the transitions necessary for corporate growth and create better communications during times of change.


The topic of this article is inspired by the curriculum for the Schulich Exec Ed program Masters Certificate in Municipal Leadership (Starts April 27). Divided into three individual five-day modules spanning a total of 15 days, the goal of the Masters Certificate in Municipal Leadership is to equip municipal managers to effectively lead their municipality into the future.