Re: Change Fatigue

Bob Large (
Wed, 6 Aug 1997 22:50:46 -0400

Harry Oxley wrote:

>> She has an idea which seems intuitively (and experientially) reasonab=
that people who keep having demands made on them to see things differentl=
to how they saw them yesterday, again and again, in no single direction b=
of unrelated kinds, even if the changes are none of them in themselves to=
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=


I'm following this discussion with interest, not because I know anything
about social/organizational psychology, but because I've been on the
receiving end of "restructuring" in the health service in New Zealand. =

Someone noted that many changes can go on at management level and this ma=
do little to touch many of the people on the shop floor. One of the
strategies some of my colleagues use (wittingly or unwittingly) is to
ignore anything that is connected with "management" - they simply put the=
heads down and do their clinical work. If they are asked/cajoled/"forced=
to consider some new management notion they tend to respond with intense
dismissive irritation. So, I surmise that for these people, the
maintenance of a tight construing system about their role as clinicians i=
uppermost in importance and any threat to that is reacted to with
In my own case, I found that I had to revise my constructs around being a=

consultant psychiatrist, which meant to me, having some say in the future=

of "my" service and its development, and seeing senior psychiatrists as m=
logical bosses - then came managers who seemed to see me as one of their
employees - I found this difficult when my new manager had not that long
ago been a junior nurse. So a painful revision of constructs around "bei=
a psychiatrist" had to happen. The next step was to revise my notions
about managers such that I could take on a management role in "my" clinic=
service so as to nurture and advance the clinical work we were doing. =

Being a psychiatrist/clinical director/responsibility centre manager all =
once had me elaborating my construct system around management and
organizational issues with some pleasure and excitement. Changes in
management personnel and policies then seemed to have a more direct impac=
on me - just when I'd got myself organized in working towards some goal f=
some gnome in the regional health authority, it would all change. I
suspect that construing myself as "truly" a clinician and only a manager =
disguise, has helped me maintain some distance from the frustrations of
seemingly arbitrary change. Unlike some of my manager friends who do se=
to have been victim to the "repetitive brain injury" Robin Hill described=
! =

For them changes carry far more threat in terms of possible redundancy or=

relocation. How is "cynicism" accounted for in PCP terms??
Ooooops! Sorry to have raved on! Hope its helpful in some way.

Cheers! Bob Large

Robert G Large
Associate Professor of Psychiatry
Department of Psychiatry & Behavioural Science
University of Auckland
Private Bag 92019
Ph: #64-9-8118608/ Fax: #64-9-8118698
email: <>

9:02 Thursday, August 07, 1997