Three Causes and Three Pillars in Organizations

This is Part 1 of The Logic of Organizational Transformation: A 5-Part Series

Transformation is like an organization autopsy. We could operate all day long and still don’t know what went wrong.

(After Love Autopsy)

Most organizations have three general causes of action:

  • Delivering values in return for economic, institutional or social rewards
  • Optimizing internally and externally to sustain what works and obsolete what doesn’t
  • Changing according to the dynamic, disruptive context in order to survive or stay on course (whatever that may be)

The interactions among those three causes form the three existential pillars of an organization:

  • Operation tries to make sure the organization delivers values and optimizes itself in a structured manner
  • Reformation and deformation tries to make sure the organization thrives in an effective, efficient and sustainable way
  • Transformation tries to make sure the organization survives existential crisis and adapt to changed or new purposes
Figure 1: Three causes of organizational actions and their three existential pillars

Delivering value is first and foremost Operation’s the primary goal.

Reformation/deformation, in aiming to optimize the operation, also indirectly deliver values.

But transformation’s primary purpose is NEVER about delivering value.

Instead, it’s about evolving the organization but optimizing and changing constructs that are more fundamental than operation: the purpose, function, process, structure, and culture formations.

As long as an organization frames transformation as delivering values, it is unlikely to become transformable and its transformation is very unlikely to be successful.

Read Part 2 of The Logic of Organizational Transformation.


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