Deep Organizational Change Almost Always Requires a Burning Platform

Deep sustainable change in organizations almost always requires a burning platform and there are two kinds: reactive and proactive. The reactive kind is when managers wait until a situation has gone critical to seek help or try to alter destructive patterns-of-interaction. Alternatively, managers who adopt the proactive kind of burning platform realize that while the situation may not be critical right now, it probably will be if they allow destructive patterns-of-interaction to continue frustrating and undermining their work-group. Managers and their staff need to ask the question, “How bad are we hurting?” If the answer is, “Not that bad,” then things normally go on as they are, until the next organizational problem raises its ugly head – normally when they least expect it. So how do managers and staff members who see the world so differently come to see the world otherwise? Edgar Schein’s model for raising organizational awareness is a powerful tool for changing how managers and staff members see themselves, others, and the world around them.

  • The first step is to use objective data from the organization’s actual performance to begin to cast doubt on an organization’s ways of doing business and cultural norms.
  • The second step requires managers and staff members to begin to see themselves as being partly responsible for causing an organization’s performance problems and issues. Once this sense of personal responsibility sufficiently penetrates a person’s denial and defense routines, they begin to experience survival anxiety or guilt about the “truth” that they really need to help the organization change. In the final analysis, organizations are collective-cultural entities that are led, managed and changed one person at a time.
  • As their awareness increases, the third step is for individuals to allow their contributions to the day-to-day problems in an organization to function as additional disconfirming evidence that further convinces them that things cannot continue the way they are. When the weight of evidence of these three steps combines, this becomes a powerful motivation for managers and staff members in an organization to change.


Organizational Alignment Indicator™

Is your organization unable to change in the face of forces and threats from the business environment? Do you make key decisions that go unimplemented or get reversed? Are you struggling against overly complex systems that frustrate and undermine your attempts to create positive change? Does your organization’s culture act like an Invisible Bureaucracy™ that keeps you from achieving your goals and objectives? These are signs that your organization is not aligned to get the results you want. The Breckenridge Institute’s free Organizational Alignment Indicator™ will show you what this may be costing you in squandered time and energy – hidden costs that don’t appear on the Balance Sheet or Budget Statements.

Free Organizational Alignment Indicator™

Just click on the link above, complete the questions in 2-3 minutes, and your free Organizational Alignment Indicator™ report will be sent directly to you. This is the first step to making invisible bureaucracy visible and to helping your organization get the results it wants.

HBR Editor’s Blog

Every month, the senior editors of the Harvard Business Review (HBR) invite internationally recognized organizational theorists and practitioners to raise issues and answer questions about leadership and management issues on the HBR Editor’s Blog. This month, we provide Pinnacle readers with links to two important and interesting discussions (see below).

Sarah Green, Why Being Wrong Feels So Right (And What You Can Do About It)

Chris Meyer and Julia Kirby, The Noncorporate Organization

We encourage you to join the conversation on the HBR Editor’s Blog and voice your opinions, commentary, and insights on these and other important topics.


The Breckenridge Institute® has developed a new on-line certification program for the MajorsPTI™ personality type inventory (Jungian type). The on-line certification program can be completed 24X7 anywhere in the world where there is Internet access, and costs only $595. For more information on how you can use the MajorsPTI™ in your organization or with your clients go to or e-mail us at
Mark Bodnarczuk has been invited to speak at the International Atomic Energy Agency’s technical meeting on, The Consideration of Human Factors in New Nuclear Power Plant (NPP) Projects in Vienna, Austria in November 2010. The title of the presentation is, Creating, Managing, and Deconstructing Organizational Culture in New NPP Projects (see

The Breckenridge Institute® is now using Michael Goldberg’s book, The 9 Ways of Working with its BTI™ certification programs and workshops. Goldberg’s book provides valuable insight into how co-workers and bosses think, what they want, and why they act the way they do. Goldberg’s book is available world-wide at on-line locations like

The Breckenridge Institute® has developed a new on-line certification program for the BTI™ personality type indicator (Enneagram). The on-line certification program can be completed 24X7 anywhere in the world where there is Internet access, and costs only $595. For more information on how you can use the BTI™ in your organization or with your clients go to or e-mail us at
Mark Bodnarczuk’s book, Making Invisible Bureaucracy Visible: A Guide to Assessing and Changing Organizational Culture is available at on-line world-wide at locations like

For a more complete listing of on-line videos, books, articles, and white papers from the Breckenridge Institute® go to

Breckenridge Institute®

If you would like information about the Breckenridge Institute’s research activities, portfolio of organizational assessment tools, portfolio of individual assessment tools, or consulting services, visit our website at Also visit

Copyright © Breckenridge Institute® 2011. All Rights Reserved
Better Results through Diagnosis



“If someone asks us to change our way of thinking or perceiving, and that way is based on what we have learned in a group that we belong to, we will resist the change because we will not want to deviate from our group even if privately we think that the group is wrong.”

Edgar Schein, Organizational Culture and Leadership


The Organizational Alignment Indicator™ (OAI™)

Every organization is perfectly aligned to get the results they get. Because the OAI™ can be used to baseline the alignment of an entire organization or a work-group, it is typically used by top managers, business owners, and middle-managers when they are anticipating or experiencing significant change due to substantial growth; reorganizations; a performance impasse; changes in leadership; change in strategic direction; decline in business performance; or mergers and acquisitions. The OAI™ can also be used as an effective alternative to 360-degree reviews because it allows you to evaluate a manager’s leadership and management skills, within the context of an organization’s structures, systems, and culture. The OAI™ will help you align your organization’s strategy, execution, and organizational culture to get the results you want. It will also show you what misaligned structures, systems, and culture may be costing you in squandered time and energy – valuable resources that become unavailable to help you achieve your goals and objectives.


Contact the Breckenridge Institute® for details on how you can begin using this exciting new tool in your organization, or with your clients (

Books and Articles

Michael J. Goldberg, The 9 Ways of Working

The 9 Ways of Working introduces the nine personality styles of the Enneagram, a classic, highly powerful approach to work and life. Each of the Enneagram’s nine types has a distinct worldview that determines how they think, what they want, and why they act the way they do. You’ll recognize the personality types of the people you work with – colleagues, clients, bosses – as well as your own. And you’ll discover the most effective ways to work with these people:

  • The Perfectionist gets things done right – regardless of the consequences.
  • The Helper nurtures others’ careers – and demands to be appreciated for it.
  • The Producer works hard to succeed – but can burn out in overwork.
  • The Connoisseur explores his or her creativity and deep feelings – but may get lost in them.
  • The Sage craves data, theories and insight – but may forget the human element.
  • The Troubleshooter knows the secrets and who can be trusted – but can get mighty paranoid.
  • The Visionary inspires with brilliant, fun, imaginative ideas – but leaves closure to others.
  • The Top Dog exercises leadership – but may end up as a vengeful bully.
  • The Mediator wants everybody working as a conflict-free team – but may forget his or her own goals.

Drawing on twenty-five years of teaching and consulting, Michael Goldberg’s rich descriptions catch the ‘aha!’ of each style with insightful anecdotes and real-life stories. He shows how each style is likely to connect with or miss the others, what kind of leadership is right for certain situations, and how each style makes important decisions and gets work done. You’ll see the special gifts and talents of each style, their limits and blind spots, and when they will shine and when they will wilt. The 9 Ways of Working is packed with practical tips and cautions for each style and for working with each style.” The 9 Ways of Working, is published by Da Capo Press and is available on