No Image Available


Read more from TrainingZone

googletag.cmd.push(function() { googletag.display(‘div-gpt-ad-1705321608055-0’); });

‘Managing Change at Work: 54 approaches to Brickwall Management


Managing Change at Work - Fifty four approaches to Brickwall Management
Author: Michael Wash
Publisher: MWA Publications, 74 Stockton Lane, York YO31 1BN
Published 1993; 2nd edition 1999
ISBN; n/a
Price: £7 reduced to £5 by quoting TrainingZone in your order

As I read this book I had to ask myself its purpose. Was it meant to be helpful, or was it just a light hearted romp, or perhaps a sales brochure? Its ostensible purpose is stated in the preface:-

‘Change confronts us every hour of everyday, whether awake or in our dreams.
Our brickwalls is (sic) a symbol for what stops us from changing.
It is important to know your own brickwall as this will help you identify
Your ability to adapt and change
Your limitations and strengths
Your reasons for protecting yourself

Knowing your own wall will help you respect and handle others. Illustrated here (in this book) are fifty four approaches to managing resistance to change’

Ignoring his remark about confronting change ‘in our dreams’, I find that the fifty-four approaches are split between those which are common sense, those which are amusing, those which needed to be more comprehensive, and those which muddled me.

Lets look at those which are common sense. Brickwall approach number 45 tells us to ‘counsel it’ There is a cartoon of a brickwall sitting on a chair talking to a counsellor. We are told this is one of the more effective BMAs (Brickwall management approaches), and it is cost effective. I can only agree though I have some personal doubt as to whether the cartoon adds to my understanding (though I accept that others might enjoy such visual reinforcement)

Then there are those which are amusing. Approach number 24 tells us to hypnotise it (the brick wall). There is a sub-title ‘false sleep makes it difficult to dream’ The cartoon shows the wall sagging in the middle and shaken at the edges. Well, number 24 is classified as a creative approach and I am sure there are circumstances in which hypnotism works. However as Mr Wash points out, in the management of change it is likely to be seen as manipulative. Quite!

I also believe some of his comments need to be more comprehensive. Approach 35 tells us to ‘give it (the brickwall) a crisis’. He adds ‘It is very effective, especially for those who rise to challenges or excel when faced with "fire fight" and survival. However, the fallout can be considerable and it may be years before healthy foundations for change can be laid’. The implication is that the fallout is negative, but what this does not recognise is that sometimes there is no choice (the British Steel re-organisation by Ian MacGregor after the 1980 strike is a case in point. It did take time to cement the change but the change was healthy. British Steel survives but would certainly have folded without radical imposed change).

Finally we have the ones which muddled me. Approach 52 says ‘Meet a Messiah and Fly (be true to yourself)’ The script starts ‘Learning is finding out what you already know…..’ Well, now you have it! Is there no place for learning what we do not know? And what part does the Messiah play in this self-discovery? He goes on ‘Teaching is reminding others that they know just as well as you’ Well, some of the time, perhaps.
There then follows a statement ‘The simplest questions are the most profound. Where were you born? ……….’
Although it is possible with effort to put Approach 52 in some sort of context, I got dizzy thinking about it.
The cartoon shows a bi-plane flying over a suspended brick wall with a number of captions including ‘why am I here?’

The brickwall is conceivably a metaphor for Jung’s ‘shadow’. For those who would like an insight into the ‘shadow’ in a wider context I recommend ‘The Paradox of Success - when winning at work means losing at life’ by John R O’Neill, published by McGraw Hill

Finally, there are a number of instruments covering topics like time management and meetings including some on change which were truly excellent, though acknowledged as derived from the work of Dr Gerard Egan [The Skilled Helper, Brooks/Cole (1990) and Change Agent Skills: Managing Innovation and Change, University Associates (1991)].

Overall, I concluded that the book was quite amusing and might be helpful. For example, groups faced with change could browse through it and perhaps use it to structure their deliberations. Towards the end of the book there are plenty of invitations to contact Mr Wash for consultancy help, which is a intriguing way of having people pay for your publicity!

Peter Martin
Arlington Associates


Get the latest from TrainingZone.

Elevate your L&D expertise by subscribing to TrainingZone’s newsletter! Get curated insights, premium reports, and event updates from industry leaders.


Thank you!