Re: Change Fatigue

Tim A. Connor (
Tue, 5 Aug 1997 20:11:10 -0700 (PDT)

I'm not an I/O person, but I wonder if we might not be looking at an
organizational effect of the Fragmentation Corollary--where different
aspects of the job require one to adopt incompatible construct systems.
I remember one job I had, many years ago, where the "quality" system and
the "quantity" system were in conflict, with inappropriate incentives
operating in both areas. The result was widespread cynicism and
depression, with neither goal being met. And a very high turnover rate.


Tim Connor, M.S. "Psychotherapy is not
Pacific University an applied science, it
School of Professional Psychology is a basic science in
2004 Pacific Avenue which the scientists
Forest Grove, OR 97116 USA are the client and his
<> therapist"
--George Kelly

On Tue, 5 Aug 1997, Charles Smith wrote:

> At 11:20 4-8-97 +1000, you wrote:
> >Dear people, A BRAIN-PICK.
> > One of my graduate students (not a psychologist but a Management
> >type) is interested in a work-group which has for some years been
> >undergoing experimental and more or less chaotic changes in all directions
> >at once.
> > She has an idea which seems intuitively (and experientially)
> >reasonable that people who keep having demands made on them to see things
> >differently to how they saw them yesterday, again and again, in no single
> >direction but of unrelated kinds, even if the changes are none of them in
> >themselves too enormous, will eventually find it too much for them; she
> >makes an analogy with metal fatigue - such as caused those Comet airliners
> >to go pop in my youth.
> > It struck me that this was just the sort of thing pcp people might
> >well know all about. Any references please?
> > I must confess that answers to this will not shut me up, because I
> >have some more MBA students who might find themselves helped by pcp ideas
> >and I'll ask on their behalf too. Well, it does all make the field KNOWN -
> >and in areas where there's money to be got!
> > With thanks in anticipation, Harry Oxley
> >Harry Oxley
> >
> >
> Harry,
> I'd like to understand better the extent to which the people in your
> student's work group really see things differently. It's my experience, as a
> change practitioner in industry, that workplace understandings have a large
> degree of stability. Significant individual change can come in response to
> major structural reorganisation or ideological change, but this takes time
> and hard work. Multiple unsustained change initiatives have little personal
> impact. A company I know well recently engaged in empowered improvement
> teams, delayering, major structural change and privatisation all at the same
> time, and still had little impact at the working level. In engineering terms
> I would call this an isolation system rather than fatigue.
> For a reference I suggest Tony Watson's book "In Search of Management:
> Culture, Chaos and Control in Managerial Work" which describes, using a
> basically social constructionist framework, the sense-making of managers in
> a company undergoing successive takeovers and 'initiatives'.
> Regards
> Charles Smith