Did you know that the #1 reason business transformation programmes fail, is because people don’t fully understand what transformation is? Do you also use the words ‘change’ and ‘transformation’ interchangeably? A lot of businesspeople, especially executives, actually do. However, it is crucial to understand the difference between these two. While some claim to be the new disruptive force in their industry, they are merely conducting an organisational change.
It looks like ‘transformation’ has replaced ‘change’ as the new buzzword. Back in the days, change, change management or organisational change was all about assessing the past, comparing it to the present and determining the ideal future state from the current business state. KPIs were mostly based on how much better the future state is compared to the current state. So, transferring people from one department to another, assigning new managers, slimming down the organisation or adding a layer in the hierarchy are all about change. Gaining efficiency, increasing effectiveness, creating incremental improvements, or basically any kind of working to make things better, faster or cheaper are still only about change.
So, what is transformation or business transformation? It starts with assessing the present to the desired future. How much difference the future state is from the current state, based on the initial vision and organisational strategy definition, measures the success of business transformation. Did you notice that there is little or no regard to the past to define an entirely different future? Your organisation, including you, will become something completely different and redefined on your assessment of the future. What you do and how you do it is entirely different from today. A popular comparison is often made with a caterpillar turning into a butterfly. Egg – Caterpillar – Cocoon – Butterfly. You get the picture, right?
To give you a different perspective, Forte achieves great results in transformation projects with integrating these 5 levels of added value, in ascending order of complexity:
- Procedural: better use of available resources
- Situational: optimising practices and differentiating services
- Systemic: rethinking operational processes
- Breakthrough: develop and implement alternative strategies and structures
- Transformational: new business remodelling and reshaping the relative competitive position
As you can deduct for yourself, the levels of ‘change’ are situated at the first two levels of added value. The focus here is clearly on task/job efficiency and responding to customers’ needs, while level 5 (Transformational) is focusing on the future value creation to meet future stakeholders’ needs.
In order to get ‘change’ done, organisations need Change Makers, people who don’t settle for the status quo and go out of their way to implement change, be it through one of the popular models of change management or by simply focussing on tangible outcomes like saving 5% on expenses or increasing the average speed of execution by 10%. These Change Makers often consist of middle managers, regional managers or head of departments. They got support from their executive team to set up a programme to deal with common change drivers like technological evolution, customer habit changes, pressure from new business entrants, mergers & acquisitions (M&A) or even some type of crisis.
When you look at transformational level, you probably agree that Change Makers aren’t the right roles to turn transformation around. It’s not about changing the past, it’s more about changing the game (of business) altogether. Hence, we call them Game Changers! Game Changers, according to Robert Kegan (The Evolving Self), are no longer compelled to “manage up” (like Change Makers) as they believe that they know what they need, and have what it takes, to succeed. They transform the future!
With our clients we regularly implement the Constructive Developmental Framework (CDF) by Otto Laske, which provides measures of managerial capability. We refer to managerial capability as ‘size of the person’. We match it with the level of work complexity, or “size of role”. By taking measures of these two characteristics we ensure a natural fit. Without such measures, any organisation will be exposed to the human capital risk that its managers are not up to the task set for them. In other words, in the context of transformation, we need to move away from Change Makers and focus on Game Changers! Does this make sense?
If you want more insights or have questions about how this could be helpful for your organisation, simply get in touch. We are happy to get a conversation started and show you ample examples of how you could up your game, or shall we say change your game? 😜
BTW, did you know that butterflies are not the only animals that undergo dramatic transformations from youth to adulthood?
Here is a list of 15 of the most epic metamorphoses seen in nature. I particularly loved the piece about the immortal jellyfish, which is capable of reverting back into the polyp stage at any time it faces environmental stress, attacks by predators, sickness or old age and so it essentially is being reborn as a young jelly. #fascinating