Saturday, July 9, 2011

Transformational Change - the foundation of business evolution

A good friend of mine, let's call him Steve, frequently asks me the question: what is transformational change?

It's a good question. There's change and there's transformation, and these two terms are invariably synonymous. So what's the benefit of the duplicitous adjective? Why not changing change, or transformational transformation? Or indeed a changing transformation? And why is transformational change such a key activity and concept for the modern business?

Let's consider the definition of the terms change and transformation:

change - n.
1. The act, process, or result of altering or modifying: a change in facial expression.
2. The replacing of one thing for another; substitution: a change of atmosphere; a change of ownership.
3. A transformation or transition from one state, condition, or phase to another: the change of seasons.

transformation - n.
1. a. The act or an instance of transforming. b. The state of being transformed.
2. A marked change, as in appearance or character, usually for the better.

So what's the difference?, asks Steve

Well, consider this definition of the evolved term:

transformational change
A change that is not merely an extension or improvement over the past, but a state change. 
This state change can be personal and organizational. The change is no ordinary change, it is far more bold and compelling - not simply a more or better version of busines-as-usual. When used in a business environment, this concept is an audacious vision of a new organizational structure and methodology.

Before being actioned, transformational change calls for a new level of fearlessness, of innovation and collaboration, and excites the people of the organization, unleashing their passion and creativity. After being actioned, co-workers will say that they have more than a large improvement, rather they have a different organization, a state-change, a transformation.

Achieving this state change requires altering and expanding the limiting mindset in which the individual employees and the organization operates. It is a mindset that includes the attitudes, perspectives, rationales and logic of individuals and the business, and alters how each perceives their problems and opportunities. Transformational change radically amplifies the bandwidth of solutions that individuals and organizations consider to deal with their strategy and vision.

Ultimately, then, transformational change is an important concept and activity in the development and growth of the modern business. Call it jargon if you will, as it is an idea not generally applied to the non-business world.

So, a useful summary or definition of the term might be:

transformational change
A shift in the business culture of an organization resulting from a change in the underlying strategy and processes that the organization has used in the past. A transformational change is designed to be organization-wide and is enacted over a period of time.
In a nutshell, there you have it, Steve.

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