December 22, 2010

Transformation from my point of view

Transformation.

After studying about transformation and organizational learning for a while, I am stick with one image about transformation which has embedded in my mind since my undergraduate course. The chosen image is: transformation is a process of unfreeze-redesign-refreeze. Whatever changes can be, people need to abandon at least parts of what they are doing, thinking, planning to accept new ideas and actions. 

Academic authors have different views on the outcome of transformation. Some say the final organization should be completely different inside-out from the original, change in structure, culture, operation, mind-set ... Those people also classify changes to different levels and categories. Others say, organizations transform as environment changes which will change their current business states. Transformation is adaptation. As long as they keep their organization at the position that they want, it does not make a big different to them how much to change, what area to change.

I think the first view is more academic and, in a way, put transformation to such an extreme of change which is quite unrealistic. Since if they change themselves completely, they would lose all the competitive advantages that they have built up so far. Moreover, they would be a completely new player in an environment which is totally new to them, competing with older players. It can be about the target environment from the author's point of view. If they want to quit the current playground and take a risk to give a go in another potential market, this could be the case.

I prefer the other perspective about transformation. It sounds more practical, understandable and makes more sense to me. However, also having taken into account consideration from the first view, I think whenever environment changes, the leaders stand in front of choices of directions: what market they want to go for to make a new start, what position in that market they want to gain, what image they want to build up in the society in general and in the business environment in particular ... From this point of view, internal factors are also important in a sense that which transformed form would cost them least which still satisfy their strategic aims. At the end, it is about the wisdom of leaders, in both understanding their own organizations and external environment, to make a good match. 

Transformation is about choice over a new game to play when leaders see the current or old one over. ;)


- 3 comments by 1 or more people Not publicly viewable

  1. Hey Anh, thanks for sharing those two approaches with us.

    As far as the first view is concerned, I agree with you that it is somehow unrealistic. The main reason for that is, if a company would like to change insid-out etc this would miss the concept and benefits of Organisational Learning aspect!
    A change is a new way of doing old things – so complete change results in losing all the experience that has been collected, I’d assume.

    In the second view, you wrote that you learnt that environment stimulates the change. This is far enough for me as well, but I would add that in this approach, the company has to change not only when the environment had already changed (passive approach) but they also have to think about future changes of the market and environmet (active approach) to gain competivite advantage. This is why Continuous Improvement is so important.

    23 Dec 2010, 10:33

  2. Marcin i really agrre with you…..... This is so true…..

    I think that transormation is not about changing all…. start a new business if you want so…..

    Tranformation is Continuous Improvement. Or else as Japanese called it Kaizen….... What an excellent theory….......... Always small steps for improvement but never never never stop…..

    Happy new yeat and Merry X’mas

    24 Dec 2010, 10:26

  3. Hi Marcin and Evangelos thanks for your comment!
    I have been thinking about those different perspectives and my perspective about those is that it depends on the ambition of leaders and time that what kind of transformation they want to implement.

    As I mentioned that it is about choice of leader.
    If they want to keep the same customers when demand shifts into another type of product, they might need to change a lot and I’m not sure if in some cases, they might need to change their internal inside-out. For example, one of the example raised in our FACS module. It is the case of flight firms, when they define their business is connecting people. When technology has reach to a certain level and spread widely enough to a large population, people can also connect to each others by a different interacting experience. If those firms want to serve the same group of customers and the demand splits in terms of physical types products, they need to set up media branches or something and enter a new operational process. As operation change, skills needed also change and culture in that type of environment must be also different from what they did before.
    On the other hand, if they define they are operating in transportation business, the way people want to connect to each others doesn’t affect firms as much as in the previous case. They will still transport, maybe not much people any more but goods, delivery … All they need to do is, monitoring their business to carry their business in different way, more delivery-oriented.

    However, from my point of view, the first transformation case is more sustainable. Taking into consideration of globalisation issue, all goods might not be much transported for long distance in the future. If flight firms want to adapt and break their transportation business into shorter distance, they might have to compete with local logistics firms … and this is not their original industry. They might still transport people for travelling, vacations ect. bring them holiday experience, but they will be under the impact of tourism industry, their operation might not be in their own hands.
    If firms want to satisfy one kind of demand or experience of a group of target customers, they would be more determined to change and they would be more aware when to change, what to change and how to change. If they follow their operational industry, they might take a risk of extinct industry (like roll film industry (not sure if it’s the name but … I hope you know what I mean :P) )

    About the active and passive approaches that you mentioned, I think it’s the change attitude. I view it as the ability to foresee things and accept change. I believe that in pro-active firms where people take the lead in change, leader must have foreseen environmental changes in the future and what they do is just make a step in advance of their competitors. As taking change also mean taking risk when no one change but their own company. Not all firms implement changes first win. Their changes could not be accepted by the environment. There must be a strong belief from the leader to take that kind of active change. If they win, they will be the lead, putting others in the passive situation for change. In the opposite, if they lose, they would suffer a lot. ‘High risk, high return’! :)

    I agree with you about the Continuous Improvement and also take in to account Sustainability. Those factors will help leaders make the right decisions for change.

    24 Dec 2010, 11:41


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