“Transformation” is an extremely popular word in todays business vocabulary, it seems to cover anything from minor process and organisation adjustments to complete redesign of business purpose, organisation and value chain – This, to me, indicates there might be some confusion between what constitutes “Change” versus “Transformation”.
The purpose of this article is to highligt that “Change” and “Tranformation” are two fundamentally different creatures, each requiring a very different approach. Many believe that the two are the same – they are not – and while we’ve actually come a long way in learning how to manage Change, businesses continue to struggle with Transformation.
Close to 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