It’s not actually a recognized management method, but it takes place every day in organizational life and in transformation projects.  


It’s now generally acknowledged that blocks and resistance avert important change subjects. ‘The perfect procrastination’ is an intricate form of blocks and resistance. And this brings us to the crucial point. In day to day work it’s not consciously discussed.  Conflicts, blocks and resistance are rarely, or never, addressed.  Or they’re hushed up with the infamous phrase “let’s stick to the facts”. 

These procrastination and stalling tactics generally follow the complex inner human structure: So they’re not easy to see and rarely one-dimensional! It’s been scientifically proven that emotions have a much greater impact on our behavior than reason. This fact can sometimes be observed in meeting rooms. When various protagonists and stakeholders are sat around a table and official discussions are underway. The real emotions, interests and views are often disguised there and although the atmosphere seems friendly, the tension in the room is perceptible.

It’s often our task to explore the uncertain terrain in advance through unofficial private discussions or in subgroups. And then you can always see how the energies change between personal and unofficial discussions, and official talks.  Gauging the respective interests, personal and emotional states is an important and fundamental task in the change business. 

The assertion of acceptance of personal training and coaching increases the readiness to involve emotions and patterns of behavior in the transformation topics. However, there are 3 snags:


The individual readiness for change on the personal level tends to be higher than that of the group. The individual readiness for change at the lower levels of the hierarchy is higher than that at the higher levels. 


Blocks and resistance arise from the benefit gained by one person or one group from people. Conflicts come from internal or external ambivalences. 


A stumbling block can also be a huge need for protection, from which this can also emerge. One employee put it like this: “I certainly won’t do it without the agreement of my boss. In a similar situation, I got into loads of trouble….it was awful.” Having experienced this trauma makes trust-based progress more difficult.

That’s why blocks and resistance have a central role in the change business.  


So it’s important to deal with the right blocks and resistance and not to give too much attention and energy to the ‘unimportant’ ones. First, the decisive factory is to analyze the benefit that the person or group gets from the block or resistance situation.  It’s not easy. For instance, as I described in the case of ‘the perfect procrastination’, it’s best not to show your cards. 


It’s helpful to understand that blocks and resistance always have a function. They can be arranged in the following categories:


Protective function


Aggressive function


Blame function


Other function


©Richard Carey

¹ Roth, Gerhard; Ryba, Alicia: Coaching, Beratung und Gehirn. Neurobiologische Grundlagen wirksamer Veränderungskonzepte. Stuttgart: Klett-Kotta. 2. Aufl. 2016. p. 132.