Resistance to Change LO13732

Winfried Dressler (
Tue, 27 May 1997 10:07:45 +0100

> >I (Winfried Dressler) found "Unwritten Rules of the Game" by
> >Peter Scott-Morgan of Arthur D.Little, published first at McGraw-Hill, Inc.
> >1994 very convincing. It also
> >includes a practical interview method to identify resistance and
> >successful change-appoaches.

Margaret McIntyre asked:
> Winfried, could you please say more about the key points and the
> methods that are covered in this book? I'm not familiar with it.

The idea, as far as I understood and as far as I can reproduce in english
(I read only the german translation):

- Three forces are distinguished, which influence the habbit of persons in
an organisation: a) motivational forces (criteria for hire and fire,
status, career, salery, education...), b) forces from sources of power
(organisation, rights and duties...) and c) forces which directly generate
special behaviour (targets, measures for performance...).

- Rules: organisations have a set of rules which determine the real forces
according to which the members act. Often, these rules are different to
the official written rules, because the written rules and past real
experiences work together as a system. The true rules can be quite
different to the official intentions but they are rational in the sense
that acting according them yield to the best results for the individuum
(not necessarily for the organisation).

Possible example:

Official rule: "experience" -> unwritten rule: often change of position

official rule: "promotion" -> unwritten rule: satisfy your boss, be
different, no mistakes

official rule: "responsibility" -> unwritten rule: protect your
department, good short term results

Here, nice sounding official rules lead in the daily experience to not so
nice (but more practical) unwritten rules, which work together as a set
yielding to some typical problems: No cooperation, no risks, chronical
short term thinking.

- What happens, if one tries to change the actual valid forces without a
good model of the real unwitten yet rational rules? Scott-Morgan
distinguishes 18 side effects, which can be understood as resistance to
change. For each of the forces under pressure (3) this pressure can be
weaker, equal to or stronger than the actual force (3 x 3 = 9). Finally,
the pressure can be applied once or chronically (9 x 2 = 18). Example:
weak chronical pressure on motivational forces yield to cynicism.

- To identify the unwritten rules yielding to special problems or
symptoms, Scott-Morgan provides a timetable for 14 interviews and 2
workshops within one week and a nice standard for documentation of the

If this incomplete and very brief summery makes some of you curious about
this book it was worth the time to write it.


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