Our understanding of transformation

…especially in contrast to change management

You read a lot about agile transformation on our website. But what actually is a transformation?

We understand organisational transformation as the following:
An organisational transformation describes a 2nd order change. It is a multidimensional and disruptive organisational change (following Levy & Merry, 1986).

In this kind of organisational development, the organisational system is transformed in such a way that basic assumptions, values and patterns of cooperation and communication are radically changed.
This has an impact on many dimensions of the organisation. A sustainable new behaviour of organisational members can be observed.

In folgenden Charakteristika kann der Wandel 1. Ordnung und der Wandel 2. Ordnung unterschieden werden:

1st order change

Incremental change

  • One-dimensional: Something changes only partially
  • Quantitative change
  • Continuity, same direction
  • Incremental
  • Further development
  • Without a paradigm shift, e.g. an existing product or an existing organisational structure is further developed.
  • Organisational development or optimisation

2nd order change

disruptive change

  • Multidimensional: Something changes almost completely
  • Qualitative change
  • Discontinuity, new directions
  • Revolutionary
  • New development, quantum leap
  • With a paradigm shift, i.e. an existing product or organisational structure is completely redeveloped
  • Organisational transformation or pattern change

You can recognise 1st order change by the fact that it makes sense to you quite quickly why and for what something is being changed. This does not necessarily mean that you approve of it. But you understand the reasons and the implementation pretty quickly.

It’s different with second-order change. You may still understand the problems that need to be solved. But it is difficult to create new solutions that are not just more of the same. Getting out of existing thought patterns is enormously difficult. One’s own beliefs about what one considers right and normal or wrong and fatal are often unconscious. It doesn’t even occur to us to question the usefulness of seemingly self-evident things. And when confronted with a transformation experiment that breaks with shared thought patterns, one tends to quickly dismiss it as absurd.

In a transformation, therefore, completely different instruments and approaches are needed than those offered by change management. (Nevertheless, the instruments from change management remain relevant, of course). Our “Pioneers Trafo model” shows you the pattern breaks that a company often needs in order to become more agile. The “5E-Trafo-Vorgehen” approach provides you with a tool to promote changes in thinking patterns.

Do you have any questions? Feel free to contact Till directly and send him a message via the form.

Till Beratung

Tillmann Seidel
Management Psychosoph
+49 221 84 68 10 99

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