Formula for change

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The formula for change was created by Richard Beckhard and David Gleicher, refined by Kathie Dannemiller and is sometimes called Gleicher's Formula. This formula provides a model to assess the relative strengths affecting the likely success or otherwise of organisational change programs.

D x V x F > R[edit]

Three factors must be present for meaningful organizational change to take place. These factors are:
D = Dissatisfaction with how things are now;
V = Vision of what is possible;
F = First, concrete steps that can be taken towards the vision;

If the product of these three factors is greater than
R = Resistance

then change is possible. Because D, V, and F are multiplied, if any one is absent or low, then the product will be low and therefore not capable of overcoming the resistance.

To ensure a successful change it is necessary to use influence and strategic thinking in order to create vision and identify those crucial, early steps towards it. In addition, the organization must recognize and accept the dissatisfaction that exists by communicating industry trends, leadership ideas, best practice and competitive analysis to identify the necessity for change.


The original formula, as created by Gleicher and published by Beckhard and Harris, is:

C = (ABD) > X

where C is change, A is the status quo dissatisfaction, B is a desired clear state, D is practical steps to the desired state, and X is the cost of the change.

It was Kathleen Dannemiller who dusted off the formula and simplified it, making it more accessible for consultants and managers. Dannemiller and Jacobs first published the more common version of the formula in 1992 (and Jacobs, 1994). Paula Griffin stated it accurately (in Wheatley et al., 2003) when she wrote that Gleicher started it, Beckhard and Harris promoted it, but it really took off when Dannemiller changed the language to make it easier to remember and use.


  • Beckhard, R. 1969. Organization development: Strategies and models. Reading, MA: Addison-Wesley.
  • Dannemiller, K. D., & Jacobs, R. W. (1992). Changing the way organizations change: A revolution of common sense. The Journal Of Applied Behavioral Science, 28(4), 480-498.
  • Jacobs, R. W. (1994). Real-time strategic change: How to involve an entire organization in fast and far-reaching change. San Francisco, CA: Berrett-Koehler.
  • Wheatley, M. J., Tannebaum, R., Yardley, P. Y., & Quade, K. (2003). Organization development at work: Conversations on the values, applications, and future of OD. San Francisco, CA: John Wiley & Sons.