The Change Diamond Model for Sustainable Transformation

change diamond

The Change Diamond Model for Sustainable Transformation

Making Change Happen – In the Long Run

In this blog article, I would like to introduce you to a model that has dramatically changed my life. It explains in a unique way why some people seem to be able to make changes without much effort, while others fail at the slightest challenge. It is based on the idea of levels of change developed by social scientist Gregory Bateson and therapist Robert Dilts. Over the years, I have continued to refine, enhance and expand my work with this model. The result is my Change Diamond, which can also make a decisive difference for you if you want to use your personality as the most important success factor of the future.

The Change Diamond Model

The following figure shows an overview of the change model.

Change Diamond Model


The idea behind the model can be quickly explained. There are different levels at which changes can be brought about and influence each other. The upper three levels are closely linked, and the central element is Identity, which has a diamond shape. We’ll soon see why this icon fits perfectly. But first, let’s take a look at each layer.

Environment: Our spatial environment, the people we interact with, and all other external conditions.

Behaviour: Our concrete actions, which refers to everything we do, make, and implement.

Skills: The sum of our knowledge, our abilities, and our experiences, which then lead to inner processes, strategies, and programs.

Beliefs: That which we deeply and firmly believe is true. Beliefs act on a subconscious level, always come from the outside and increase over time. They can be both beneficial and limiting.

Values: The moral principles of our being and the compass of our actions, so to speak. Values increasingly emerge in the course of a life and act on a subconscious level. There are so-called motivation values (drawn to) and aversion values (away from).

Identity: Imagine throwing all your knowledge, skills, talents, experiences, dreams, values, beliefs, strengths, weaknesses, and all other aspects of your unique personality into a big funnel. Then this great mass goes through a special process and, at the bottom, out comes just a single drop that contains the concentrate of what makes you an individual. That’s your identity.

Vision, Mission, and Purpose: You’re already familiar with the terms “Vision” and “Mission” in the context of the core needs. In combination with “Purpose,” these provide a meaningful life.

The Mechanism of the Change Diamond

So far, so good. Between the different levels, there’s the following correlation: whenever a change occurs on one level, it also automatically results in changes on the levels below. This means that top-down is a “Definite Connection.” Bottom-up changes may or may not happen. That’s why it’s considered an “Optional Connection.” For example, changing our Values automatically results in changes to the Skills, Behavior, and Environment levels. If, on the other hand, we change our Behavior, this can lead to a change on the higher levels, but everything can also remain the same. An ellipse with an optional Vision and Mission hovers above the model. These factors give our lives a real purpose, and thus have a direct impact on the change levels below them. Have I confused you a bit? Then let me give you a concrete, if fictitious, example.

The Change Diamond in Your Everyday Business Life

I hope that this brief example helps you understand why change sometimes works and often does not. In the Change Diamond Model, there is always a “should” connection from top to bottom, and a “can” connection from the bottom to the top. The most important fixed point is the identity. It directly interacts with our Values and Beliefs,  and it defines our personality, our Behavior, and therefore our results in life. “But wait a moment, Ilja. That would mean that changes at the Environment, Behavior, and Skills levels often don’t work?” Exactly. Of course, the regular repetition of a Behavior eventually leads to a change of Identity: we will become what we regularly do. But that is seldom the case. Normally, the Change Diamond will always be the dominant factor.

„Every change on the outside starts with an inner transformation.“ Click To Tweet

A good example of this is the TV series Goodbye Germany! The Emigrants which is pretty popular on cable TV. The pattern is almost always the same on it: a dissatisfied and unsuccessful person decides to make a fresh start in Canada or Gran Canaria. So they change their Environment and, usually, their Behavior. But these people forget one important thing— they’ve brought themselves into this new chosen homeland. Since their Identity and its associated Values and Beliefs remain the same, the results look the same after a short time. The person is frustrated, unsuccessful, and quickly returns from the island they had just chosen as Paradise.

Another example is the smoker, who tries to make a change on the Behavior level by trying to replace the burning sticks with, for instance, nicotine patches, chewing gum, or some other substitute. As long as he doesn’t change his Identity (“I’m a smoker”) and the associated Beliefs (“It’s hard to quit smoking” or “If I quit smoking, I’ll inevitably give in”), the success will be short-lived. In the long term, plans like that always lead to a relapse. Only when the Change Diamond is transformed (“I am a happy and satisfied non-smoker”) will sustainable results follow.

Change your Personality- Become a Changemaker

We can look at it any way we want. If we want to bring about deep and lasting change, then we have to start at the core of our personality. That’s why the diamond image fits so well, because our Identity must develop itself over many years. At first, it’s often like a piece of coal—grey, dull, and not very attractive on the outside. But through pressure, time, and regular grinding, this once-unimpressive lump turns into the glittering, sparkling, and radiant mineral that has always fascinated people. This leads us to another important saying: “Every external change always starts with an internal transformation.”

And now I am interested in your opinion, or rather your experience with the individual components of the Change Diamond. Leave a comment and let us start the discussion 🙂

Sincerely, yours

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