Change is not the same as Transformation

Change is not the same as Transformation
16 January, 2017 Rene Palne
In Insights, News

“Transformation” is an extremely popular word in todays business vocabulary, it seems to cover anything from minor process improvements and organisational adjustments to complete redesign of business purpose, organisation and value chain – To me, this indicates some confusion between what constitutes “Change” versus “Transformation”.

My purpose of writing this article, is to highligt that “Change” and “Tranformation” are two fundamentally different creatures, each requiring a very different approach. And while we have come a long way in learning how to manage Change, most businesses continues to struggle when it comes to handling Transformation.

Almost 10 years ago HBR published John Kotter’s classic article,”Why Transformation Efforts Fail.” And although his suggestions for how to improve the odds have been widely accepted, the success-rate remains essentially unchanged — it still lingers around 30%.

“Change” means implementing finite and well defined initiatives, which may or may not cut across the organization. The focus is on executing a well-defined shift in the way things work. Change is not easy, but we do know a lot more today about what to do and how to lead change mangement programmes than we did 10 years ago.

“Transformation” on the other hand is another creature altogether. Unlike change management, it doesn’t focus on a few discrete, well-defined shifts, but rather on a portfolio of initiatives, which are interdependent or intersecting. More importantly, the overall goal of transformation is not just to execute a defined change — but to reinvent the organization and discover a new or revised business model based on a vision for the future.

“Transformation” is much more unpredictable, iterative, and experimental. It entails much higher risk. And, even if some specific initiatives within the transformation portfolio are executed successfully, the overall transformation could still fail – How an organisation chooses to approach Transformation will most likely determine whether or not they will succeed.

Successful Transformation Management starts with the CEO leading the way, with the management team backing the efforts 100% – If capabilities in Transformation Management are slim they must be acquired or contracted.

“Change” and “Transformation” is not the same – Copenhagen Strategy are specialised in Tranformation Management – contact us for a talk on how we can help you


Nb! A great inspirational read from McKinsey is their suggested approach to Transformation management. This article also contains reference to Ron Ashkenas ideas on change management.





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