Transformation demands that the organization get serious about matching how it originates, orients, and conducts business with the nature, qualities and characteristics of the New Millennium Era business paradigm. To do this it must unlearn some amount what it has learned before attempting to transform. The first article in this series talked about how to tell if your initiative is indeed a transformation, or just a regular change. This article offers insight into the target/transformation paradigm as the goal you’re working for when you transform.
In short, there is an entirely new ideology that organizations strive for when they transform, although it is difficult to discern and express beyond what people will be doing differently on a task level for most organizations. I can offer a metaphor for CIOs to keep in their minds and guide their conversations…
Regardless of how much change management business-side leaders employ there is a lingering insistence that this work should create or follow a machine-like pathway for change to occur – that is, business-side leaders approach change as if the organization is a machine or assembly line, and when they begin to realize that it isn’t they bring change management specialists to make it that way. In fact, most modern organizations are like organisms with many inter-related systems and overarching controls and channels for information flow and direction.
Furthermore, the real depth of complexity of the ‘organism’ organization is only evident when leaders begin to consider making changes. When it comes to transformative change, the magnitude is exponential and this is because the organization is attempting a metamorphosis from an organism of systems to something I and other organizational psychology professionals refer to as ‘flux’ (continuous transformation). Diagrammatically, this concept looks like this…
How most leaders regard How the organization really is How the organization will
the organization and right now. operate in its future state,
approach transformative which is the whole point of
The above depiction is not news to most IT leaders. Helping business-side leaders to come to terms with this, is another matter and so I can offer some grounding points for CIOs in their efforts to deal with gaps in understanding and promote a more appropriate way of getting transformative change through.
THE NEW ‘SUCCESS’ MINDSET
Hallmarks of the mindset that is indicative of an organization that is ready to do the work to shift paradigms/lead and manage transformation include:
- Knowledge that future success cannot be predicated on the past – at least not for the next 20 years
- Understanding that universal, predictable, and very specific qualities and characteristics underpin the transformed state and are the target
- Knowing that a tried and true recipe for failure is to approach transformation work as if the organization is a like a machine rather than like an organism
- Recognition that Industrial Age paradigms are so deeply embedded that breakdowns and breakthroughs should be pursued and managed as a necessary process of transformation at the organization, team and individual levels
- Acceptance that the new paradigm is so foreign that it will take disciplined effort to transform from being like an ‘organism’ that grows and evolves, into a ‘flux’ that is never the same from one day to the next.
- Acceptance that in order to save time, money, and the mental, physical, and emotional health of people, preparing the way for transformation work in advance is necessary – and this is accomplished by targeting the paradigm shift in addition to applying classic change management.
So, all of this begs the question ‘How far do we need to go to transform?’. I.e. ascertaining the depth and nature of the journey can be a big help. Not only does this thumbnail enable some preparation to be made, it adds a degree of predictability amidst the sea of unknowns that typically accompany transformative change.
TAKE THE TEST
Mark where your organization is at in making the from and to characteristic shifts the cultural and operational norm using the continuums below. Identify low marks as areas that need more preparation before spending capital dollars on transformation. Average the percentages to get a sense of the scale overall scale of work:
Work and Effort Application Method :
Separate People, Command 1 . 2 . 3 . 4 . 5 Continuous Connectedness & Collaboration
Prevailing Leadership :
Reward & Punishment 1 . 2 . 3 . 4 . 5 Inspiration & Individualized Meaning
Information Flow :
Withholding Information = Power 1 . 2 . 3 . 4 . 5 Sharing of Information = Power
Success Measurement :
Weaknesses Against Goals 1 . 2 . 3 . 4 . 5 Contribution of Strengths to Goals
Thought Capital Management :
Compliance & Conformity 1 . 2 . 3 . 4 . 5 Ingenuity & Innovation
Most organizations have made progress on the above through the application of matrix managed structures. To be clear, you are aiming to tip the balance on the shift in mindset and paradigm and not aiming to secure a wholesale shift in every corner of your organization. Preparatory work to shake loose the Industrial Age thinking and methods should focus on the most steeped/rooted areas of the organization and the most advanced/aligned areas of the organization.