Culture change or culture transformation?


Posted by Amanda Fajak - 16 January, 2015


'Change' has become overused in business rhetoric.

The latest ‘change program’ is often greeted with cynicism from line managers and employees alike. As this HBR article attests, as a business community, success rates for implementing change have shifted little from the 30% mark published by John Kotter almost 10 years ago.

"There’s an underlying semantic problem, stemming from confusion between what constitutes “change” versus 'transformation.' Many managers don’t realize that the two are not the same. And while we’ve actually come a long way in learning how to manage change, we continue to struggle with transformation."


What this article does not talk about is the characteristic of transformation which is irreversible.  This concept was first widely introduced by Robert Fritz in his book The Path of Least Resistance.  It is about altering the fundamental structure of something - like coal turning to diamonds -  so that it can never go back.

At Walking the Talk, we often discuss this with our clients.  One of our core concepts is that of BE-DO-HAVE. If you believe certain things, hold certain values, you will DO certain things which will give you particular business outcomes. At the BE level, when we consider changes to the level of consciousness, or level of development (Susanne Cook Greuter’s work as well as Ken Wilber) once one attains a certain, broader world view it is impossible to reverse back to the previous more narrow one.

Culture change or culture transformation?
Our BE-DO-HAVE Model at Walking the Talk

Our experience and observation of organisations is that there is a lot of comfort working at the DO level – creating a new process, restructuring an organisation, implementing new IT infrastructure, buying a company – many of the initiatives describe in this article. Where most companies are less comfortable working is at the foundations of our behaviour – beliefs and values.  We believe that working at this level is an organisation's ‘secret weapon.’ And weapon that most organisations don’t use frequently enough.


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Topics: Change, Be Do Have, Business books, Transformation, Amanda Fajak

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