Business transformation, organizational transformation, digital transformation. Whatever it may be, transformation is the buzzword of business change strategies everywhere.
So, your organization is already on the path to digital transformation. You’ve identified the changes required to transform the approach, and now you’re forming a clear plan to present to your Executives and Board. But do you genuinely understand the difference between transformation and change, and what undergoing digital transformation actually entails?
Here’s the thing; change and transformation both have roles in growing and fostering a successful and innovative organization, but they are not interchangeable. Assuming that they are is a common but risky misconception that can cost your organization financially and, ultimately, in terms of survival.
The difference between change and transformation
So if change isn’t transformation, what’s the difference between the two? Think of change as building blocks to transformation, a shift in behaviour for the better as people begin to do things differently.
Change is incremental and can come from any area of your organization. It could be moving away from paper-based filing by digitizing your organization’s data or adopting social technologies to increase customer engagement. Whatever the changes, big or small, they become a measurable comparison between where your company was and is now.
Transformation is more profound. It’s a new way of being that requires an integral shift in your organization’s values and culture. Most importantly, it must be orchestrated by those at the top, as transformation is impossible if your leaders are not on board.
How your organization compares to its former self is not a measure of transformative success. Rather, a successful transformation will be one where the organization is entirely different from what it was.
Change fixes the past. Transformation creates the future. Understanding the differences between change and transformation will give your organization the confidence to allocate resources, budgets and timelines that align either with change or, rather, a fundamental change in beliefs.
“The only way you survive is if you continuously transform into something else. It’s this idea of continuous transformation that makes you an innovation company.” – Ginni Rometty, CEO, IBM
Transformation should be your ultimate goal
Why is focusing on digital transformation better than just focusing on change? Sure, you can change without transformation but you can’t transform without change.
The brutal truth is that organizations not prepared to do things differently will be left in the dust by their agile and innovative competitors and will, inevitably, become obsolete.
The culture connection
Many digital transformation articles will tell you that a healthy workplace culture is an integral ingredient in any transformation – and, again, it begins with your leaders.
Organizations don’t transform, people do. Workplace culture reflects the values, beliefs and behaviours of the leadership group. Leaders ‘walking the talk’ is contagious, and fostering a positive culture from the top will reverberate throughout your organization.
Let’s say increasing customer engagement and optimizing business processes are part of your digital transformation and your organization has agreed to invest in some innovative mobile, cloud, and social technologies.
Some fairly big changes must then take place in the way most areas of your organization operate day-to-day. You will need everyone on the same page but people will, instinctively, resist.
If your organization’s transformation framework can show people that their needs are understood through shared values and a shared vision, before long, their behavior, innovation and customer service will reflect this – and your organization will be well on its journey to successful transformation.
- Change and transformation are not interchangeable
- You can change without transforming, but you can’t transform without changing
- Change is a shift in behaviors, whereas transformation is a shift in values
- Leaders must lead and orchestrate transformation
- Culture is integral to successful transformation