Mistaking Changes for Transformation?

Mistaking Changes for Transformation?

Organizations undergo changes all the time. Some are more far reaching than others. Ofcourse each change amounts to varying amount of impact on financial and cultural aspects of an organization.

But an area where even the most experienced managers falter, is to gauge, whether the changes are transformational. How to find out if your organization is undergoing a transformation or just a series of frantic changes, that may not amount to anything. Sometimes changes may well even be counterproductive.

Here are the differences to between a transformational journey and a series of unplanned changes:

Cultural change precedes transformation 

A cultural change almost always precedes a transformation.

“Culture eats Strategy for breakfast.”

If culture is right, it can foster a vision for strategy. A culture if developed with accountability, empathy and long term commitment, can even turn a shoddy strategy into wonderful masterstrokes during implementation. A wonderful strategy is useless in a toxic culture. When a new manager comes in and starts bombarding his ideas about what is right and what is not, it’s just going to be series of changes and not transformation. Transformation requires time and buy-in of internal stakeholders

Driven from inside vs. Driven from outside/top 

Transformations are driven from inside. It comes from cultural aspects that value innovation, honesty, opinion sharing, transparency and trust. It’s the team that decides, what needs to be done as compared to a change agent brought from outside. Change agent can set direction and facilitate change but when outside agent becomes the driver, be assured of it to be series of frantic changes, almost always employed to earn a quick reputation or secure personal political agenda

Process driven vs. trust based

When an organization is completely driven by processes, it stifles the innovation and any motivation on part of employees to bring in the change. A leader or an organization who stresses a lot on processes can be depended to bring incremental changes to the processes only. Organization may not be able to transform as its too fixated on internal processes

Inward vs. Outward looking 

A change driven organization is Inward looking. Its focused too much on internal organizational politics of rewards and accolades. An organization on path to transformation is customer centric and is dedicating its resources to fulfil what customer wants and is building on what customers have to say

Consensus vs. prescriptive

Anything that is prescriptive comes from the mind of one person who mostly is an authority figure. A consensus is there having multiple minds worked on it. Transformative organizations look for consensus in all forms of decision making. Only changes would be driven from managers who want to run teams and organizations as personal fiefdoms

Tactics vs. Strategy

Transformation is part of a strategy which ties all the parts together. It’s a long-term journey. Changes are an insecure attempt to prove a point, without any understanding of the current scenario. A series of changes would change with the manager. A transformation journey wont.

Spray and prey vs. knowing what works

An unplanned organization will make number of changes hoping some may stick, in typical spray and prey manner. A transformational organization arrives at a consensus of a vision and sticks to it while committing to minor tweaks.

Sustainability Vs. Profitability

A vision that subscribes to sustainability or any form of long term commitment to causes far bigger than bottom-line improvement is a sure-shot sign of an organization that is transformation ready. An organization focusing too much on profits may gain in short term but will eventually lose out.

Author: Prabhash Choudhary, CEO, Magistral Consulting

Magistral has helped multiple organizations with its consulting and research services in the area of strategy development and implementation. Author can be reached at prabhash.choudhary@magistralconsulting.com for any queries.