Introduction of Change (LO19806)

John W. Gunkler (
Wed, 11 Nov 1998 10:58:43 -0600

Replying to LO19790 --

I've given this thread a title that may be more descriptive of its

Jodi, you are taking on a challenge that, while worthy, is probably too
big. There has been an ongoing discussion on the System Dynamics mailing
list about "modelling systems" that warns us not to attempt to model an
entire system but, instead, to model a specific problem that occurs in a
system. The problem you're interested in, suitably downsized, might be
described as "the effect of introducing environmental management systems
on ..." -- and there I run out of information.

I believe you must finish that phrase in order to suitably define the
problem. Then you need to describe, with behavior-over-time descriptions
(and graphs and data), what happens now when environmental management
systems are introduced.

I would also suggest a direction for your research others may not be aware
of. I believe, from my 20 years experience as an external change agent,
that what happens to change initiatives in organizations is primarily the
result of what has been called "organizational culture." A wonderful
source of information on what to include in your model is any of the
writings of Robert F. Allen. One of the more accessible of them, if it's
still available, is "The Organizational Unconscious: How to Create the
Corporate Culture You Want and Need" published by Prentice-Hall, 1882,
ISBN 0-13-641381-1

Allen lists these critical influence areas:

1. Rewards and recognition
2. Modeling behavior (especially, the behavior of formal and informal
3. Sanctioning (what kinds of behavior are confronted and supported, how)
4. Communication and information systems
5. Interactions and relationships (how much dignity and respect; how much
interaction with people practicing desirable norms)
6. Training
7. Orientation of new members of groups
8. Resources commitment and allocation (on what is money being spent --
important mostly as a signal to the organization)

In other places he has created similar lists that include "recruitment and
selection policies" (who is being brought into the organization), and
"supervisory follow-through" (particularly first- and second-line
managers), and "work group support" (how are working teams organized and

Bob Allen's key point is that what people actually do within an
organization is (nearly) dictated by the norms of that organization.
Norms are patterns of expected and supported behavior, and they are very
powerful. Without changing norms, no change effort will long succeed. I
think of norms as being part of what Jay Forrester means when he talks
about "policies" -- the decision rules that guide day-to-day decisions.
And it is "policies" (shaped by, or maybe even equated with, norms) that
form the rate equations in a Stella/ithink model.

I hope these ideas prove useful.

I'll add this one lesson learned: It is the norms of middle management
that determine whether any organizational change will succeed or fail.
Middle managers are the "keepers of the systems" within any organization
-- they are the ones who owe their jobs to being able to make things
happen within the existing systems and structure, so they are the ones who
perceive they have the most to lose by adopting change. Unless the norms
of middle management can be changed, no change will "take." The same is
true about central management and front-line people, but I find that
helping them change their norms is much easier than helping middle
managers change theirs.


"John W. Gunkler" <>

Learning-org -- Hosted by Rick Karash <> Public Dialog on Learning Organizations -- <>