The Real Dynamics of Transformational Change

Companies and large organisations embark on changing their culture for one of two reasons.

1. They are in trouble and the company is not performing

2. Senior Leaders (sometimes only some!) have a Vision of how much greater the performance of the business can be, if it changed its methodology and mentality.

The sketch below shows the two basic dynamics that occur during the journey of cultural change.

·         Linear progression. This is represented by the blue line and indicates the logically step by step progress of implementing new “infrastructure”. The “Hard Systems” methods, procedures and work systems, together with tools and techniques.

·         Exponential progression. This is represented by the red line and shows the behavioural change required to make Transformational Change work. This change is produced by the “Soft Systems” that are often intangible and rarely documented.

You can’t have one without the other, unfortunately many organisations major on only one and not both in equal measure at the same time. This often occurs because the current culture in the organisation wishing to change, thinks predominantly in only one of these ways, not both.


The Key Tips for Consultants and Leaders…

1. Embark on changing the way managers think when starting the programme. Create an environment where people practice using both sides of their brains more. This can be done as part of initial on boarding of managers and leaders prior to final programme design.

2. Create a Vision that describes not only the “Hard” stuff, such as the new methods and processes in place in the future, but also the feeling of the “new way of life” and being employed in the business. Including the behavioural changes that will be seen in the future. The “Soft” stuff. This vision should be used almost daily by leaders to describe the future to employees.

3. Be aware that the journey will be in four phases. And this journey will be in line with the well-known Zuckerman theory of group dynamics. Forming, Storming, Norming and Performing and each of this phases will need to be managed in a different style of leadership. Regardless of how long people and teams have worked together any significant change will send the teams back to forming in some shape or other. Remember;

a. The leadership style must mimic the dynamic in line with the Situational Leadership model by Adapted from Situational Leadership Ò A Summary Ó 1993 by Centre for Leadership Studies, Inc.

b. When employees are forming the leadership style must be directive

c. When employees are storming the leadership style must be teach and tell

d. When employees are norming the leadership style must be coaching

e. When employees are performing the leadership style must be delegation


4. Storming needs to be managed and worked through, otherwise concerns led to resentment and issues remain to bubble way for ever. This is a common cause of long term cultural issues in many well established companies.

5. This journey can take between eighteen months to three years in a single location. No matter how fast you believe you can implement the infrastructure the new capability, the soft stuff, within the workforce needs to grow alongside the implementation of new methodologies. So many companies fail to grasp this dynamic