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On the Surface, Transformation vs Change


"Transformation processes are guided from a different conscious than change processes."

Change, predictable and one-direction


Managers often fight with this two distinctions. Organizations have created structures and designs for change processes but we are still having trouble with transformation processes. First, we need to be able to differentiate them in order to apply them in our organization. Change is a set of measures or finite actions in order to achieve a result often different to what it is today. We make a portfolio of initiatives to go from A to B and we manage the way (change management). We know we need to change something because it is not what it was supposed to be. We see change as a cycle process with constant and continual planning for reaching a particular result and we see transformation as a iterative process.


Transformation, complexity and uncertainty


Transformation doesn't depend on a set of initiatives, the goal it not define as it is in a change process. Transformation is a reinvention that is unpredictable, a process of discovery and experimentation. It is no a linear process. This means that we don't know where and when we will get there...but we will know once we get there. In a transformation process, on contrast with a change process, we don't know yet what we are supposed to become but we are open for discovery. The signals can come from everywhere in the organization, unlike change, that comes from someone --most of the times the managers or CEO-- that think it is supposed to be different.


"Change comes from a present and looks to the future. Transformation comes from the future".

We navigate a change process but we need to submerged in a transformation process. This means that it takes the utmost of us and it can challenge our identity and core values. Transformation is hearing what society, what customer wants from us, and being open to destroy ourselves and born again in a new way. It can be a process, product, organizational or social transformation that for sure will need a deep commitment from the people and the utmost from the leaders.

"It is a process that we don't own, on the contrary the process own us."

This process can start from 3 types of waves:


First wave: it comes from an individual view where decisions come mostly from leaders and managers. Someone see that something it not right or it is not as expected. There is a cause and an effect, the same way there is a responsable for thing to happen.


Second wave: It comes from a group perspective. It is about the interrelations of the members of the team. It is about seeing the connections and the relationships between the individuals, between the functions and between the positions. It is understanding the dynamics and learning from them. There is no one cause but there are multiple factors and they all interrelated to have the results we have right now.


Third wave: It comes from something bigger, such as society. This is where transformation happens. We are not a unit, we are not a group of people; we are not a group of people, we are a system with its own identity. This identity comes with new rules and norms. In this third wave complexity makes a whole new solution where is no longer A or B, nor either C and maybe not any of those.


The third process is the transformation we need in these moments. A transformation where we don't know yet the future that is waiting for us but we do know that it will change us. We need to create the conditions for our company and for our teams to be open to navigate in this new waters.




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