Quality leaders’ expertise in standardizing processes and establishing continuous improvement cultures must be complemented with transformation proficiency.
Individual transformation is at the heart of organizational change, as individual spirits combine to form creative energy and leverage tsunamis of change.
Leaders who are successful in implementing large-scale change have a balanced focus on the people side of the equation.
Most organizations remain mired in their current states, frozen in old mind-sets, paralyzed by resistance to change and fighting each major wave of change as if it was a special cause. Leaders are unsure whether their organizations have the resolve to do the difficult work of transformation and remake themselves in the light of a new vision of their value in a new world.
Some organizations find the will to take action, but relatively few have mastered the ability to transform themselves in the face of these accelerated forces and to reliably and repeatedly enact radical change, in order to generate breakthrough results in effectiveness and performance. Most respond piecemeal, adopting one popular performance improvement and leadership trend after another, which often leads to fragmented efforts, short-lived benefits and a dispirited workforce struggling to meet management’s ever-increasing expectations.
The focus of many change efforts at the organizational level has largely been limited to organizational subsystems and key processes—using lean, Six Sigma, value stream analysis and other methods for incremental improvement—with the emphasis on existing problems. Likewise, standardization efforts have been introduced to reduce variation and strengthen existing systems. Well represented in business and professional literature, and globally in communities of practice, these approaches work from within the existing vision of the organization. They are inherently inadequate for stimulating the level of group and individual creativity, innovation and passion needed to envision new opportunities inherent in these external tsunamis and to engage the entire workforce in the co-creation of a new future.
Transformational change represents a leap that results in a significant, step-function shift in the underlying system itself that then generates breakthrough results.
Transformation requires more than an effort by a charismatic leader with strong personal beliefs and practices. Individual employees are often left out of the equation. They may receive skill instruction—competency-based training and development that, on its own, does not prepare them to re-envision their work and make the deep personal changes needed to be more effective in a radically altered environment.
Building on the creative spirit of each individual joined with others is at the heart of transforming organizations so they don’t just weather forces of change, but also capitalize on the immense energy inherent in the surge. It is time to welcome the whole person into the workforce—body, mind and spirit.
But to some, the mere mention of individual spirit can produce flushed faces concerned about imaginary HR issues. The ease of discussing team spirit or esprit de corps is not replicated on the individual level. I have three words of advice to such leaders: Get over it. Having empowered spirits at work that are collectively focused on creating value-added services and products for the changing world is the new imperative. Aside from the observable evidence it generates, transformation also has a subjective aspect in shifting internal reality. In the absence of awareness and consciousness, an individual’s external and internal realities are largely shaped by the body and mind-sets, which don’t necessarily serve the best interests of the person, organization, community or society.
Learning to access spirit taps into a greater source of wisdom, brings more choices for how to act in the world and unleashes creative energy for building a new future aligned with one’s purpose in the world and in work. In an unawakened (zombie) state of unconscious perceptions and reactions, the body-mind (in personal and collective senses) uses spirit as its instrument.
Current beliefs or mind-sets direct the generative power of spirit toward preserving this constrained—and distorted—perception of reality. With successive cycles of transformation, spirit that is informed by purpose increasingly becomes the driving force in work and organizational life, the interpreter of current reality and the architect of the desired future. Without transformation at the individual level, organizational transformation is not possible. Beyond the isolated, individual work offered by some organizations, radical change on a broad scale requires that individual transformation be addressed in the context of transforming the individual’s relationship to his or her work group (teams and other organizational entities, for example), and be integrated with a method for whole system transformation.
Effective individual and collective transformation in the workplace is built on three central ideas: 1. Radical improvement is possible only through a transformation rooted in expanding consciousness and bringing forth the strength of individual spirit, not just intellect. Purpose and vision then can be drawn from deeper wisdom and fueled from a larger source of creative energy—spirit-generated creativity. 2. Radical improvement in collective performance is not a top-down phenomenon. Rather, it hinges on individual members embracing transformation in their own lives and finding alignment between their own and the group’s purpose, vision and values. Individual, team and organizational transformation are interdependent—thus, life planning is integral to team and organizational effectiveness. 3. Radical improvement can be implemented, sustained and repeated if it is pursued through a holistic, systematic yet practical framework that also incorporates solid processes for planning and implementing change and measuring results.
We invite you to explore both the organizational change and individual change strategies we employe with our clients. From high potential talent development to an eight-step large-scale change process developed by John Kotter, a world-renowned expert on leadership at the Harvard Business School and award-winning best selling author, we employ disruptive technology and state-of-the-art methods to help our clients create breakthrough performance.