Albert Einstein once said that the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over yet expecting different results. Organizational Transformation breaks through that insanity. It’s not about working harder—I remember working with several clients during the economic challenges of recent years, and helping them realize that working harder can only “fix” problems when not working hard caused the problems in the first place.

And who was going to admit they weren’t already working hard?

Transforming an organization is not simply improving results, no matter how significant. Organizational Transformation is about being a different organization, not just a better one. It’s change on steroids… that “step-change” that leapfrogs an organization into an entirely different—and better—place.

Organizations wanting to adapt, change, or transform cannot force such change through simple technical modifications like reorganization, re-engineering, or the like. You certainly cannot “save” your way there, nor create a budget or forecasting model that will do it. No, you can’t “spreadsheet” into transforming an organization.

This isn’t a quantitative exercise. If it were, I’d develop a do-all Excel spreadsheet for “Transforming Your Organization.” You would simply plug in your numbers, hit “calculate,” and out would come your winning formula for successfully transforming your organization. I would charge a bazillion dollars, have a private island in Tahiti, and wouldn’t invite any of you to come visit.

Don’t we wish…

To fundamentally transform an organization, you must first embrace a new way of leadership performance to better understand and address challenges and interpret business movements.

How does that happen? In my view, Organizational Transformation needs three elements to succeed:

  1. A clear direction, with equally clear expectations and specific goals. If you don’t know—or can’t clearly articulate—where you’re going, don’t expect to see a throng behind you;
  2. An engaged workforce; we’ll need massive quantities of discretionary effort, and the ability to discern positive directions without incessant oversight. That only comes from a workforce willing to do the right thing for the organization, with or without your immediate presence;
  3. Changed leadership. To change a culture—we must start with leaders. That’s just the reality. Leaders capable of moving the proverbial needle closer to transformation must first transform themselves, focusing less on operational leadership and more on focusing on flexibility, collaboration, and “collective” leadership.

There’s nothing inherently simple about Organizational Transformation, but neither is it beyond the reach of any organization. It takes vision, fortitude, and resolve. In other words, you’ve got to want it—really want it—to get it. Start there, move forward.

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