A simple recipe for organisational transformation | A braai-side chat with a transformation advisor.

Would you like a simple organisational transformation recipe? Well, sure – who wouldn’t, you might say. Ok then – settle down and put your feet up old pal. Pour yourself a shot of that policeman’s coffee. Comfortable? Let’s start with finding out a little about you, and what you want to transform.

Are you the CEO, a member of the executive, a manager, a motivator, or a minion? Is your organisation an elephant, a hippopotamus, a wild-dog or a rabbit? Sorry – to clarify that second question – how big is your organisation, and how long has it been around? What is its story – how did it get here?

Ok – now that we have cleared that up – what is it you want to transform? What is troubling you about the way things are. Is it “everything”, or “the culture” (which is a code name for “everything”). Is it performance-related (like revenue, or costs, or both) or is it behavioural (like work-ethic or people being nasty to one other?) Is it customer retention or customer profitability? Or is it something else? And before you answer – remember that “transformation” means a significant and long-lasting change. We aren’t talking about a 5% improvement here – we are talking about playing a different game altogether. And we aren’t talking about starting something new either – because that would be “start-up” and not “transformation”.

So – now we know where you are in the organisation, and what you want to transform.

Can you tell me a little bit about the people that are in the centre of this conundrum. By conundrum I mean the thing that is making you unhappy about the way things are, or excited about the way they might be. Who is caught up in this? Who is keeping things the way they are, and preventing your “better future” from happening naturally?

Tell me a little bit about those folks. Why do they do what they do? What do they think about your dream of transformation? What do they tell you when you talk about it? Are any of them keen for that transformation, or do they think you are Giordano Bruno. That poor fellow was rumoured to be burned at the stake on 17 February 1600 for saying the world revolves around the sun (and a few other things that the organisations of the time did not like to hear). There is no record of his last Valentines Day, or whether he thought that was a thing. He was indeed burned at the stake (that’s not the rumour), but everyone is a little vague about why. He kept saying transformational things you see.

OK – now we have something to work with. Not enough, but something. Tell me something else old pal. How many people around you know how to get this transformation done, and do they all agree with one another? Are they singing the same song, or does it sound like an Irish rugby bar 4 hours after a resounding loss to England? Is there any consensus on how the transformation might come about, or is there the sound of snarling and ripping flesh when the subject gets put on the table? Have they tried a few things and failed? Did the mountain refuse to come when called?

And finally, my good friend – what data do you have to back up what you have said? Is it a feeling, or do you have some stories from the field, maybe some results from the income statement, or some operating metrics you can point to. Is there some way you have organised that input and come out with a framework to make sense of what you mean by the transformation effort – something that could be clung onto as a life-raft as the waters around us crash and roll with the transformational energy we will unleash? Are you on the WorldsView E&A landscape, or the Prosci Methodology, or the Estuarine-Cynefin Framework? Or maybe you don’t have a framework and we need to find one that makes you comfortable. 

Right then! Let’s get started! Our first steps will seem small but will change things, and that change will be followed by more steps which change things even more, and then we will really get moving. What an adventure this will be.

There. You have it. The start of a tremendous transformational effort. We call it issue-centric change, and the process steps are Issue, Frame, Contextualise, Organise, Mobilise. Simple really. It’s a pleasure. That’s the way we do things at WorldsView Academy for Organisational Change. 

We teach it in our programs, and we use it in our interventions. If you like, invite us for coffee and see whether we can guide you on your transformational journey. Or if you are someone who likes to captain their own ship, why not register on one of our programs and transform yourself into a transformation master. We have the 2024 Higher Certificate in Organisational Development kicking off in May and it will be attended by people kind of like you. Come along – we would love to have you with us.