Traits Seen in Great Facilitators of Transformational Change

So, let’s first define Transformational Change. The term “change” is used in many different ways and often creates confusion when we all have differing assumptions about what it means.

Types of change;

1.Company Wide Transformational Change

This type of change is seen when restructuring Global Companies either down-sizing, up-sizing and especially when amalgamating organisations. This goes wrong sometimes when there is a lack of awareness of the “new vision” for the business among the workforce or when senior managers don’t plan the style of implementation correctly or when environmental considerations aren’t factored into the plan.

2.Transformational Change

Possibly smaller in size than company-wide, transformational change; this is when high level business strategies are reconsidered and implemented in light of environmental changes that are occurring outside of the immediate companies influence. Unfortunately, only a few businesses really embrace this concept and do it effectively. Transformational Change occurs when in equal measure consideration is made to strategies that are development for business improvement AND behavioral change simultaneously.

3.Incremental or Remedial Change

This is usually driven by a recognised performance need in a certain part of the business. For example; improving productivity in manufacturing or increasing sales or improving safety performance. Sadly usually after one or more serious accidents! Done well, this embraces the philosophy and traits of transformational change, unfortunately too often this is done as an isolated project and lives in a silo within the business, thus not connecting with the wider business culture. It also focusses on the “hard systems” (infrastructure; methods, tools and techniques) required and not on the behavioral systems to raise capability within the workforce…the “soft systems”

4. Unplanned Change


This type of change takes businesses off track and usually in the wrong direction! (Note; if it sends it in the right direction, someone will be taking the credit for it!). This change happens when something in the influencing environment creates a major change and then effects the business(s) around it. For example a major customer stops trading, a country introduces new commercial tariffs, raw material price increases etc. great businesses do everything they can to predict these things and have crisis plans. However many don’t and then try and manage themselves out of the problem in the same way as got them into the situation in the first place. All of the different examples above need the traits of an experience “Change Agent” because even though we can define the different types of change, many organisations try to management them in the same way!

The diagram tries to show the two fundamental different types of thinking and mentality. In the project management example the thinking is “linear” and driven by timelines and targets. The Transformational Change example is showing that the journey is not as predictable as a straight line and when managing people’s behaviours the journey will be put off track and the skill is to manage the diversion in an effective manner.

The traits of organisations that manage Transformational Change well;

o They involve as many people as possible directly or indirectly

o They are aware that they need to change the THINKING to change the SYSTEM to change the BEHAVOIUR to improve the RESULTS

o They remain on purpose…they focus on the Purpose of Change and don’t let the “Programme” detail take over

o Create a Learn by doing culture (PLAN, DO, REVIEW and IMPROVE) oThe Leaders lead the required behaviours and continually align people to the vision

o They use existing tools, techniques and learning where ever possible and don’t muddy the waters by introducing new methods when not needed

o They create a process to address large and small defects/issues, not just majoring on things the everyday person can influence

o They create and develop Business Improvement Roles (Facilitators) who stand “outside of the day to day business”.

o They use a PHASED structured, step by step approach. Usually; 1) assess 2) pilot 3) roll out and 4) sustain)

o As part of the first step, Assessment, they; “seek first to understand, then be understood”.

o They put continuous improvement systems in place for sustainability (Hawthorne) not just hope it will stick!

o They design programmes that must address correct Infrastructure (methods, tools and techniques) AND Capability (works force) simultaneously, using one to enhance the other

o They keep it simple and pitch solutions and implementation of “systems of work” at the right level. They don’t over complicate a programme by using methods that too complex for the business’ need

o They create a sense of urgency. Transformational Change doesn’t come from dabbling once a month on some new concepts, it needs to be every day to allow people to adjust their behaviours to the “New World”

Martin Gummery, CEO and Founder of NewLeaf International.


If you wish to understand more about how NewLeaf International supports Transformational Change please contact us.