Some Patterns Work Too Well

How can you break obstructive patterns when they work very well for some in the organization?

Patrick Heller
4 min readApr 15, 2024


An organization sees from the numbers — and feels from all sides — that something needs to change. Both the boardroom and the work floor are struggling with entrenched patterns. What they have been doing for so long has worked well, but the world has changed. Competition is fiercer, the market is changing faster, and talent is scarce in the job market — in short, it’s time for new patterns tailored to current conditions.

But as clear as the insight is, the path forward is murky. As a coach in such an organization, it’s a struggle to establish new patterns deeply enough and in time. Before you know it, the organization is back on its old path. Why are patterns of groups of people — like organizations — so difficult to change?

Change is scary

Part of the struggle is easily explained — all change is scary. You know what you have, and you have to see what you’ll get in return — better the devil you know. But some don’t fear the unknown of change; they know very well what the existing patterns have brought them. Especially those who have worked in the organization for a long time and have managed to settle into comfortable positions will strongly resist…