Deconstructing Transformational Change: A Guide for the Workplace
Transformational change is the hardest, slowest and most important kind of change. Usually, this is also the kind of change an organization needs to have some long-lasting effect. But first of all let me explain you the 3 different types of changes that are existing:
Different types of change require new kinds of leadership. Changes happen at varied rates, hit unexpected obstacles and call for special contributions from those involved.
- “Developmental change” – This kind of change is incremental. Often a desire toimprove internal fitness drives it: Look for small ways to improve your product or service. Planning is straightforward, and success depends on good feedback, training and rewards.
- “Opportunistic change” – This kind of change requires taking advantage of a temporary “strategic window.” You have to move quickly and work under considerable pressure. Of course, such opportunities are more likely to arise if you’re looking for them, but external forces drive them. Such changes place huge stresses on the organizational culture, and you may not have a chance to communicate persuasively.
- “Transformational change” – This kind of change, which is unusual, requires a complete overhaul of the organization. Even with the guidance of a visionary leader, it is the most challenging. Cultural and individual resistance is vigorous, because no one knows what the organization will look like when it’s over.
Now let’s take a look at transformational change:
A rock and a hard place
Transformational change is the most peculiar and most difficult change to enact. Why? It’s basically a reboot for your whole organization. I like to think of it as the same process where you clean up and fix a computer that’s full of viruses and whatnot. A business that’s in dire need of this kind of change is like a PC that’s running but isn’t getting anything done thanks to so many malfunctions. This usually means you have to reformat your machine and reset it to a clean slate.
So what do you need to bring this kind of change about? The truth is, you can never be ready enough or know enough about transformational change. It’s such an overhaul of everything that is in place that there is no formula for getting this right. But any kind of change can be done with the following:
1. The right leader.
Most of the time, the kind of leader you need depends on the organization you need to change. But you must be sure that you get someone who is passionate, realistic, innovative, flexible, encouraging and detail-oriented. Depending on the situation, you must find traits that can prove useful to your organization.
2. Take down barriers.
In all senses, change can only happen when you take away rigid boundaries. I believe the most sweeping way to do this is to make teams that share and alternate functions with other teams. This way, communication may be easier and tasks are lighter since they are shared.
3. Good resource management.
I’d like you to remember that resources aren’t just money or supplies. You should include knowledge, people and other things that can help your change process.
Seeing the light
So now you’ve put your change elements in place; the right perspectives are the next tools you need to enact the transformational change process. Here are some things you can keep in mind as you go through this process:
1. Organizations aren’t machines you can change parts or tweak. They are actually organisms that grow and take a lot of effort and time to change. They also need to adapt or die. Transformational change is always desperate and could be the only chance your company gets.
2. You need to respond to different kinds of pressures in different ways. There is no one way to go about such drastic change. Try these out:
- When competition is tough you should expand your capabilities, merge with other organizations and even overhaul your production or sources.
- When your clients and customers change their demands, you should find ways to get to know the new things they prefer. Have some discussions and focus groups with your clients.
- When the business landscape is changing with technological advances, you need to keep up. Change your security systems and be prepared to introduce new work schedules if needed.
- Try to roll with the economic fluctuations. Invest in diverse ventures so you don’t get left behind when one industry goes down.
- Be informed and active in lobbying for your industry. Talk to politicians and support bills that can further your organization’s interest.
3. Know good strategies for effecting transformative change. Good techniques to look at are 1) have the best brand image out there or 2) be big enough that you can disregard the competition or 3) create your own competition with the blue ocean strategy or Sur-petition approach of Edward de Bono.
4. Use stories to communicate with your team. The best way to show them that they need to change and keep up with developments is to illustrate examples and appeal to their emotions. A story is the most effective way to do this.
In the end, you must accept the difficulty and hardships that transformational change brings about. You can try to be as ready as you can, but it’s inevitable that obstacles arrive. What’s most important is that you’re ready to face them.
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