Organizational Transformation


N. Venkateswaran
Asst. Professor
Department of MBA
Panimalar Engineering College

Change is not the same as transition. Change is situational: the new site, the new structure, the new team, the new role, the new procedure. Transition is the psychological process people go through to come to terms with the new situation. Remember that change is external and transition is internal.

Bridges says that transitions can be described in three stages, which are both natural and predictable.

The ending

  • When we acknowledge that there are things we need to let go of
  • When we recognize that we have lost something
  • Example: changing your job. Even when it is your choice, there are still losses such as losing close working friends

The neutral zone

  • When the old way has finished but the new way isn't here yet
  • When everything is in flux and it feels like no one knows what they should be doing
  • When things are confusing and disorderly
  • Example: moving house. The first few days or even months after moving the new house is not home yet and things are quite probably in turmoil

The beginning

  • When the new way feels comfortable, right and the only way
  • Example: having a baby. After a few months in the neutral zone of turmoil, you come to a stage when you cannot imagine life without your new baby

Process of successful organizational Transformation from old to new system:

Transformation, a complex, revolutionary, and continuous process, demands fundamental changes in the organizational structures and systems through which products are developed and services are delivered. In this process, laws often must be modified; norms and values, reassessed; and systems of service delivery and finance, changed. In addition, those involved in carrying out the changes as well as those who will benefit from it must be reeducated to acquire and apply new knowledge needed for the transformation.

Definition of Transformation

Although a dictionary definition of transformation an act, process, or instance of transforming or being transformed may appear straightforward, modern theorists have spent decades conceptualizing and describing the complex and unpredictable processes involved in transformation. Transformation is meant to identify, leverage, and even create new underlying principles for the way things are done. It also seeks to identify and leverage new sources of power.

Transformative change is fundamentally different than other change processes:

  • It results in a major structural and fundamental impact on the entire organization;
  • It is complex and chaotic in nature or will constitute a radical departure from the current state, and is so complex that desired outcomes and approaches to achieve them may be unclear;
  • The scale of desired change is large and will result in a significantly different enterprise;
  • It requires years to complete, with multiple phases and stages of major changes;
  • The rules of the game change, including the norms, guideposts, values, and guides to behavior.

Key Elements in the Organization Transition Process:


A clear and compelling vision is a key ingredient for successful transformation. Developing a vision requires defining a "perfect world" and clear principles to guide the transformation effort. It should constitute a shared image for a desired future state not a strategic plan, but the inspiration that will motivate people to create such a plan and willingly make the special effort to achieve it


Transformation efforts require exceptional leadership abilities. Leaders must have both the capability to formulate a compelling vision and the skills to organize and manage the change processes. These skills may reside in more than one person. In addition to developing and communicating the vision, the leadership's responsibilities involve developing a coherent transformation plan, maintaining a focus on key transformation goals, and managing external changes to complement internal ones.


A system's structures and processes must be aligned with the idealized vision in order for relevant persons, organizations, and systems to participate in the transformation process. Discouraged and disempowered employees never make enterprises winners in a globalizing economic environment. But with the right structure, training, systems, and supervisors to build on a well-communicated vision, increasing numbers of firms are finding that they can tap an enormous source of power to improve organizational performance.

Defense Transformation for the 21st Century

Within the United States military, transformation required changing the form or structure of the military forces, the nature of the military culture and doctrine supporting those forces. It also involved streamlining fighting functions to more effectively meet the complexities of the new threats challenging the Nation in the new millennium. It consists of:

  • Developing a top-down approach by having transformation an integral element of the DoD corporate strategy (beginning with the President) in order to foster effective management (efficiencies, cutting waste, recapitalization, and modernization);
  • Targeting and creating cultural change by use of bottom-up tools such as experimentation; prototyping of a new idea for a process, organization, or technology; and education as life changing experiences in the field where people are lauded for experimenting and using innovation;
  • Creating a new underlying theory, such as harnessing the power of the information age, to instill network behavior;
  • Aligning metrics and seeing that they are adopted via performance measures, outcome measures, and so forth; and
  • Creating new capabilities.

In this process, transformation can occur through both exploratory jumps that "push out the boundaries and big jumps to change the fundamentals of what one is trying to do."

N. Venkateswaran
Asst. Professor
Department of MBA
Panimalar Engineering College

Source: E-mail June 19, 2007


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