There is so much literature on the subject; it can be quite exhausting to try and get through it all and make sense of it. So perhaps we should try to Keep It Simple.
Let's start by doing what a lay person would typically and reasonably do in this day and age and ask Google... And this is what Google has to say to the question: "What is the meaning of the word Transformation?"
It does not preserve or conserve the former state.
In short, what the article shows us through its research is that effective, 'transformative' organisational change characteristically requires:
1) a long time commitment (it is not a short, quick event),
2) a sense of urgency (no resting on your laurels),
3) a very clear vision (vague, murky, ambiguous or complex ones won't do),
4) clear, honest and open (not confusing) communication,
5) regular communication (not intermittent or as and when it is convenient to do so),
6) a removal of obstacles of all sorts (including attitudinal barriers)
7) a focus on short-term wins along the way (to maintain motivation and momentum),
8) avoiding premature declarations of victory (and denial of failures), and
9) an embedding of changes achieved into the culture of the organisation (to establish and reinforce the new state).
1) Operational change –
Where companies do what they are currently doing, better, faster, or cheaper, without the essence of the company changing in any material way. These companies are simply ‘playing an old game better’, and in today’s rapidly changing world, that is simply not enough.
2) Change of operational model –
Also called ‘core transformation’, where a company does what it is currently doing, but in a fundamentally different way. The article cites Netflix as an example, which over the last five years has “shifted from sending DVDs through the mail to streaming video content through the Web. It also has shifted from simply distributing other people’s content to investing heavily in the creation of its own content, using its substantial knowledge of customer preferences to maximize the chances that content will connect with an audience. Customers still turn to Netflix to be entertained and to discover new content, but the fundamental way Netflix is solving that problem has changed almost completely”.
3) Strategic change –
Transformation that involves changing the very essence of a company: examples like Apple expanding its focus from computers to consumer gadgets, Google from advertising to driverless cars, and Amazon.com from retail to cloud computing. Executed successfully, strategic transformation reinvigorates a company’s growth engine. Poor execution leads naysayers to complain that a company should have “stuck to its knitting.”
The article goes on to say that for long-term sustainability, organisations should aim for 'dual transformation', that is, the effective blending, connection and coordination of: a) transformation that strengthens the organisation today by reinventing the core operating model, and b) strategic transformation that creates the organisation’s tomorrow’s core business. Makes sense.
The article talks about how the success rate of corporate transformation has remained essentially unchanged almost ten years since John Kotter’s suggestions on how to improve the odds (listed earlier in this article) have been widely accepted — it still hovers at 30%. The big question of course, is why that is.
The writer proposes that the failure is mainly due to an underlying semantic problem stemming from confusion about what constitutes 'change' versus 'transformation', and that many managers do not realise that the two are not the same. He goes on to say that while much has been learnt about how to manage change, organisations continue to struggle with transformation. And I'm sure that many would support this view.
Ron says that unlike change (or change management), which focuses on executing a few, discrete, well-defined shifts in the way things work, transformation is a different animal altogether.
Transformation focuses on a portfolio of initiatives which are interdependent or intersecting. More importantly, the overall goal of transformation is to reinvent the organization and discover a new or revised business model based on a vision for the future. It is much more unpredictable, iterative, and experimental. It entails much higher risk. And even if successful change management leads to the execution of certain initiatives within the transformation portfolio, the overall transformation could still fail”.
it is NOT TRANSFORMATION IF...
- It is not unconventional / it does not break the mould.
- It is out of touch with current realities and imminent developments in the operating environment and broader context around the organisation.
- It is not courageous, in all its ways.
- It is not innovative in its approach, generating new, fresh ideas that were never thought of before.
- It does not demonstrate new value and new gains for the organisation and the people in it.
- It is rushed, quick and dirty – dishonest and unethical.
- It is not done from the heart!
- It is risk-averse.
- It does not bravely step into the future, with all of its unknowns, uncertainties and ambiguities.
- It does not open up new opportunities and possibilities for all concerned, directly or indirectly, in the short or over time.
- It does not yield results that benefit everyone, notwithstanding casualties that may necessarily come with it.
- It does not continue to push through despite and against all odds, barriers or obstacles.
- It continues to use the same metrics or measures of performance and success.
- It is not difficult and does not create a marked level of discomfort or inconvenience.
- It does not demonstrate clear shifts in paradigms.
- It is out of sync with current and future market and workforce dynamics and developments, needs and demands/expectations.
- It creates feelings of exclusion of some part of or some people or groups in the organisation.
- It does not lead to growth.
- It does not let go of, but retains, elements that can be labelled as ‘same-old, same-old’.
- It does not include some form of experimentation and learning through trial and error.
- It does not result in some level of failure on the way to success.
- It does not bring out the best in people.
- It does not require significant investment of time, energy, effort, resources.
- It is an event and not a process.
- It does not create space for, encourage, and benefit from differences in / diversity of opinions, attitudes, perspectives, backgrounds, skills, competencies.
- It does not teach us anything new.
- It does not embrace and use technology optimally to reposition, reorganise, re-engineer and enhance performance and value, both internally (benefitting the workforce) and externally (benefitting clients and other stakeholders)
- It does not leave the past behind, but instead preserves or conserves the old, particularly critical parts of the old that need to be modified for the new to be
1) HR is not strategically positioned and regarded/treated as such in the organisation, which can be marked in various ways, key of which is the nature of its link and relation to the office of the CEO and the Board, and,
2) HR is not assertive or effective in its strategic role in the organisation (operating and carrying itself as such), marked primarily by whether it is an administrative, transactional player, or an influential role player in the strategic life and decisions of the organisation.