Transformation = Embracing New Ways of Working

Transformation Is Embracing Change

How do you change something that’s at the heart and soul of an organization? Cultures that took years to shape are certainly not going to change overnight or as a result of a re-written mission statement and an hour-long speech from the CEO. Cultural evolution takes time. Lots of time.

Transformation initiatives surrounded by the wrong organizational culture and DNA results in an unsatisfied workforce, chaos, confusion, and political collusion.

If an organization’s leadership is unable to inspire its people, how can those leaders expect their workforce to bring initiative, imagination, and passion to their work every day?

A strong, shared sense of purpose also removes many obstacles, and this has to be communicated from the top.

I can suggest you to explore ‘The Persuasion Cycle’ from Mark Goulston. It involves taking people through five stages

  1. From resisting to listening
  2. From listening to considering
  3. From considering to willing to do
  4. From willing to do to doing
  5. From doing to, glad they did and continue to do.

“Ironically, the key to gaining ‘buy-in’ and then moving people through the rest of the cycle is not what you tell them, but what you get them to tell you — and what happens in their minds in the process,” says Goulston.

As he rightly said for any organization the transformation is not what to tell your employees but it’s how you listen to them. It also requires hearing what is unspoken yet conveyed through tone of voice, eye contact, and other body languages. This requires you to be curious and using all of your senses to truly tune into the other person.

Many of you might say you are a good listener, but the reality is we are not. If you analyze yourself you will have to admit that “ you were not actively listening instead, distracted of thinking about what to say next”

This becomes a crucial point when you undergo transformation because you will have to talk to your employees and they will have questions and complaints. You would start the conversation in an active listening mode but it will eventually turn into a defensive and justification mode. This is going to shut the other person’s minds and he will never open up. If your employees don’t open-up then you cant successfully do the transformation. Both of these actions are physiological. You are defending yourself because you yours self is not ready to accept the past, which in-turn will shut the doors to your employees minds.

Why is it important to listen to people: Everyone has their own challenges, needs, desire & agendas( Political & Personal). They have secrets they are hiding from you, they are stressed, busy, and often keeping all of these in their heads.

They put up a mental barricade to cover up all these. You can communicate and transform only if you can overcome this barricade. One of the first steps is to identify these barriers. For that you have to be an active listener with a clear vision of what you want to achieve.

The first step for companies and leaders who are trying to transform is to improve your ability to truly listen. Because the more you know them the more you know the problems. Which will help you in communicating the change you want and you will be able to implement the changes more effectively.

Civilization, Hierarchy, Power, and Politics

Various civilization has evolved throughout human history. We evolved from “State of Nature” to “Savagery” to “Barbarism” to “Civilization”.

These are the stages we passed through before we reached the apex of any civilization. This also means that the civilization is by default linked with hierarchy, which will eventually get linked with power and politics.

We could see this reflection in almost all the companies. Most of the companies will start small ( State of Nature). During this time they will have the fire to do anything and everything, they don’t care about the status quo, they will be brutal ( Savagery).

Slowly these companies will start growing and the fire will slowly go down. This will slowly lead to not knowing what is happening in each division inside the company and unknown friction starts building up ( Barbarism). This is the period where the companies will realize they need to define the process so they will start building hierarchy, roles, and responsibilities ( Civilization).

This is why I said every company is a true reflection of human evolution.

This means like human history hierarchy will be followed by power and politics. When you observe all the companies which moved to the hierarchical model, the immediate thing to happen will be “ Power game and Politics”.

Like what happened to great civilizations this will eventually lead to the collapse of companies.

You might be thinking what I am saying:

Are you saying that “we should not evolve”.

“NO !, Definitely not !” instead we should learn from the mistakes of what others have made and make sure with civilization you are not losing the element of fire called “Innovation

Instead of defining specific roles and defining hierarchy for approaching people, we should look at building teams who are empowered to take and act on decisions they make.

Similar to human civilization any company is a group of people and we should not forget human values like Freedom, Friendship, Transparency, Trust, Sense of Achievement, etc.

If you look at the above words then you will understand that you cannot buy those. Instead, those have to be created over a period of time. For that, you need consistency, passion, and care.

I like to call the organization chart a “Power Pyramid” the moment it is established the people will start climbing that pyramid by forgetting human values. When you try to scale you must keep these elements in mind. Because your resources are neither machines nor blind followers, instead they are humans of a civilized world.

We are Born, We Grow Up and We Die, so find the IKIGAI while we are alive.

We are Born, We Grow Up and We Die

We are Born, We Grow Up and We Die…

The only thing which you can control in this equation is what are you doing while you are growing up.
Why are you doing that? Is that making you happy? You only have one life so we should make it count.
Finding that purpose requires balancing many things. You need to find that one thing which makes you happy. Our companies and leaders used to say we are sacrificing this for the greater good of the company, world, or country. I don’t disagree with doing what the world needs because it is important, but it should not be at the expense of your happiness. You might think of doing what you do best makes sense, but will anybody pay you for that. Because at the end of the day you need money to survive in the world.
This is when the Japanese principle of IKIGAI comes into play. IKIGAI means “Reason of Being”.This refers to having a direction or purpose in life.


This principle can be used not just be individuals by also by the companies.
Before defining a catchy slogan, they should focus on finding the purpose and values. The companies with a strong sense of purpose and value will always perform better than their peers.
If you could align your Ikigai with those of the employees working with you, then that creates motivation and drive which eventually creates an environment with positive energy. People who are working in that environment will be driven to do their purpose and will be perfectly aligned with the company’s purpose.
The companies follow the same patterns as life ie. “Startup, Scaleup and Screwup” like “We Are Born, We Grow Up and We Die”. As a company, you should focus on postponing that inevitable. That is why it is important to find out the purpose, “the IKIGAI”. If that is found and served by generations of people the company can live for centuries.
Spend your time in finding the purpose of your company and your team. Your company’s vision/product vision will not count if it describes “the what and not the why”. This cannot be done by writing catchy phrases on posters.
Finding the IKIGAI is a lengthy process, So I suggest spending the time with your leadership team and team members. This should not be a one time exercise this should be done frequently so the purpose is served.
The quickest way ( not the effective way) to start with is to print the prepared canvas of IKIGAI.
Give the smaller version to the individuals and stick the bigger version in the room.
Ask every team member to write in their answers and post it in their small versions of the canvas. Keep in mind overthinking will over complicate. Hence don’t overthink and time box the activity to 5 to 7 to minutes per section. So that you could finish this in 30 minutes.
After this map, it to the bigger canvas. When they map it to the bigger canvas ask them to explain it. This will help you in identifying the IKIGAI (purpose )of the company, team, and individuals.

We are Born, We Live and We Die. So choose wisely and make every moment count.