For more than a decade organizations have invested in large transformation projects. Some will consider the project a business transformation while others a digital transformation. The word transformation has also been adopted by the personal growth and health industries. I’m curious though, are you really transforming or renovating your organization?
Let’s take a look at the common definitions found online:
- A complete change in the appearance or character of something or someone, especially so that that thing or person is improved.
- A transformation is a dramatic change in form or appearance. A transformation is an extreme, radical change.
- Something that has been repaired or restored to a better condition, or the work done to repair or restore something.
- Renovate (a word ultimately derived from the Latin verb novare, meaning “to make new”) suggests a renewing by cleansing, repairing, or rebuilding.
Organizations decide to invest in change, because they want to stay relevant in the market, offer competitive products/services that meet their customers needs, or adopt the latest technology that will enable improved product development, and operational efficiencies.
Having been part of several transformation programs in different organizations, the focus is almost exclusively on what’s changing. Time and energy are rarely invested in understanding where the organization is today, what’s working and what’s important to the employees.
When an organization decides to invest in significant change, there should be a strong business case for the change. This doesn’t mean that everything will change. Organizations have history, values, culture and ways of working together that are part of the foundation. When you think about change as a transformation, it is easy to focus on the changes and create a narrative that “everything is changing”.
Instead consider approaching the change like you would a renovation. Think home reno. What would you keep and what needs to change? This is especially important when you start to share the change story with your employees.
Employees only have capacity for so much change. As much as they need to know what is changing they need to know what is staying the same. This helps your employees know where to focus their energy.
Your employees need to know there are good things, things that should be kept while other things are improved, instead of the message that everything needs to change. A renovation recognizes the work, the value of the good bones of an organization.
Consider your current change programs, are you transforming or renovating your organization?