Three Misconceptions About Organizational Transformation

This is Part 2 of The Logic of Organizational Transformation: A 5-Part Series. Read Part 1 here.

There are three common misconceptions about transformation and its role in an organization:

  • The value fallacy, which claims that transformation initiatives are first and foremost about delivering immediate, tangible and pleasurable values. And if you failed to deliver them upon timely request, your transformation effort won’t be supported. This notion has unfortunately neither truth nor sense in it, for reasons I’ll explain below.
  • The manageable imposter, which substitutes reformation/deformation for real transformation. Doing so creates a superficial illusion of proactively and energetically doing transformation while only making internal changes (such as re-orgs) that neither question nor challenge the status quo. Reformations and deformations are necessary instruments of change for an organization, but they’re, unfortunately, not worthy substitute for transformation due to their differences in purposes.
  • The power sensibility, which rejects, for good and bad reasons, any questioning or challenge to existing power structure or existing ways of operation. As result, there’s no sense, only sensibility in how transformation is being done in the organization.

Three points to be made here:

Firstly, the “value fallacy” misconception can sound really rational and even compassionate, but transformation is more than just delivering value to your organization. It is a part of the organization itself, one that manifests itself in transformative behaviour and progressive mindset of its people, plus much more.

More often than not, delivered values are the indirect by-products of positive transformation, which triggers a chain reaction from transformation to operation and then reformation and deformation.

Figure 1: A chain reaction triggered by transformation.

Secondly, the “manageable imposter” misconception not only hurts the organization in the long run, but also hurts people’s feelings, especially when they realize what is actually being done.

Thirdly, the “power sensibility” misconception takes away the element of activism in the transformative efforts. Some might say, “what’s wrong with non-activism? We don’t need no revolutions, for God’s sake!” But you know what, good luck with changing the behaviours without changing the minds, learning without making mistakes, winning without taking risks, and sex without lovemaking.

And perhaps mostly unfortunately, misconceptions are sometimes intentionally created and propagated.

…transformation is often a disguised reluctance to […] changes.


Read Part 3 here.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: