Transformation and change is the new normal in organizations all over the world – we all know that. Nevertheless, we have no common language and no grammar to discuss and design changes on every level of organizations. We miss a Taxonomy of Transformation.
It is time for a simple, intuitive framework that allows the integration of change processes into daily business. It is time to shift the understanding of change – everybody in every organization is an active part of transformation – it is a collaborative journey. And as change is a constant state today, let`s make it interesting, inspiring and fun. Just like Alex Osterwalder who disrupted the old school strategy consulting with Business Model Generation. It is time for a Lean Transformation approach.
We created a framework and a process for designing and modeling organizational transformation – to be used by teams and people with ownership of the desired changes. At the core of this approach is the “Transformation Canvas”. We understand this tableau as a common taxonomy for teams to design and drive their transformation in a lean way. It is used as a collaborative tool with which the team can work on its change by visualizing the ingredients of their change in a structured and consistent manner.
After many workshops and sessions with the canvas we see that the taxonomy works, the instrument is highly effective. It can be used for large scale transformations, for team based or even individual changes. People are rapidly understanding and using the tool. It has a huge impact on the dissemination and dynamics of transformation processes.
Our Taxonomy of Transformation has seven interlinked fields:
1. Chart the course (Vision): Where are we going, the drive and ambition to transform …
Be clear about drivers and motivation: What are the reasons for the transformation? Why do we break new ground? What are our attractive visions of where we want to be short, medium and long term? In this field it is all about the professional passions from which draw strength for the goal and the way. It sharpens the common understanding of the destination and it creates energy for the joint effort. Many times, for example, this field represents a new business model designed with the Business Model Canvas. The Transformation Canvas is becoming the flipside of the Business Model Canvas.
2. Hold up the mirror to yourself (Identity): Where do we come from? What we can build on? Where do we stand today?
This second field is about a calm, respectful and at the same time unvarnished, honest self-examination. Identifying the present abilities and (favorable / unfavorable) cultural patterns of the actual organization. What is difficult and where are the “hidden treasures”? It will be a powerful process to size and evaluate the gaps between the findings in this field and the ambitions of field.
3. Map the system and outline the frontiers: Affected people/groups/stakeholder…
Every transformation needs a clear understanding of who exactly is in and out, who is affected by the change, who gets touched and who is not? Draw the lines. Also, further investigation about the mental framework, feelings and intuitions that shape behavior and action in such situations is useful. Who bears the change, where is the energy and what kind of mixed emotions and resistance we expect? What triggers these emotions? Where do we expect personal gains or opportunities, who are the leaders and opinion leaders and how are the informal power relationships? Such insights can show us the limitations of changes achievable in the short-term.
4. Set the tangible ambition for change: New performance and results that improve…
Transformation must become visible and in a way measurable with respect to new and better results. One should be able to name tangible improvements in finance, market impact, processes, behavior. And it should be clear how to measure and monitor expected achievements of the transformation. This may be well measurable results such as market and process performance (e.g. T2M), KPI‘s (costs, quality, time), or other financials (e.g. EBITDA) but also employee related new performances or sometimes also visible patterns and vital signs that show successful change.
5. Build new capabilities: Who has to do what, more, less, better to achieve the goals of the transformation …
There is no change in organizations and social systems without building new capabilities. It is all about the question what exactly the organization wants and needs to learn as fundamental driver of the desired change. And sometimes it is also about what needs to be un-learned. What are the critical new leadership skills (attitude & crafts), system capabilities or collaboration skills? The search for capabilities is closely related to the affected people (3) and the new performance (4). Try to focus on the top 5 new capabilities – restriction may be a struggle but worth it.
6. Change levers: Choose the drivers and key interventions for the transformation…
We know the Who (3) and the What (4&5). So now it is about the How. What are the smartest pressure / pain / pull points to trigger the learning process? What tangible moves we have to pivot the people and the organization to achieve new capabilities for new performance? What do we focus on: people, structures, processes, systems, rules and values, etc.? Sometimes experts are needed to figure out the best levers and interventions. Our experience shows that managers and employees are quite smart in finding the drivers that work. They tend to search for smaller, leaner interventions.
7. Roadmaps: Design the architecture, setup, steering and (reporting) structure to realize the levers and the learning…
Now put the transformation into something readable and comprehensive. This may be a program, a project, or work packages depending on the size of the change. What are the phases and which focus do we put at what stage? How will people be engaged and how is multiplication attained? How can support be managed? The roadmap should be as lean as the entire process shown here.
Following this framework and taxonomy of transformation helps managers and teams on all levels. It creates the common language and understanding. And it takes away the often mythical approaches of change consultants. It’s time for the Taxonomy of Lean Transformation.