Transformation Isn’t What You Think It Is


We often hear from leaders that they want to prepare their organization to make a major change. They anticipate a transformation is coming — perhaps a looming technological shift — so they want to brace for it before the storm actually hits.

That solution is indeed a smart one — except that it solves for the wrong problem. Leaders shouldn’t be preparing their organizations for specific change events, but rather continuous transformation. According to NLI’s review of the research, it’s a shift that compels leaders to adopt a brand-new set of habits.

The data reveal that 86% of organizations are in the middle of, or have just completed a transformation. However, only 37% of transformation efforts are deemed successful, and employees rarely report feeling prepared to make those changes.

This is, in part, because organizations systematically undervalue the importance of a growth mindset. That is, they don’t help employees strive for continual improvement. Instead, they over-value output, which can lead people to have a fixed mindset when thinking about the work they do. Should a major event arise — and they always do — fixed mindsets won’t be of much help.

Slowing down to speed up

Putting employees in the right mindset is only half the battle, of course. In today’s era of constantly shifting technologies, leaders must also have the tools to innovate and execute faster.

At NLI, we find this generally comes when leaders give their teams the chance to reflect after big creative meetings and let ideas marinate in the brain’s subconscious. The science of insight tells us that creativity happens when the mind is quiet. Overworked employees rarely get that luxury, so organizations must defer to the same old approach.

Bringing more ideas to the table maximizes the chance an organization will make smarter, more effective decisions. And that decision-making can happen much more quickly, since leaders will have greater sightline into the implications of one course of action over another.

When organizations anchor on this definition of transformation — continuous change, rather than one-time shifts — they sit poised to adapt to anything. Those are the companies that will succeed no matter what the future throws at them.

Author: Chris Weller

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