What Is Organizational Transformation?
As defined in the business literature, organizational transformation refers to deep, fundamental, (often radical) changes in an organization’s mission, structures, systems, culture, processes, and ways-of-working, as opposed to incremental improvements. This standard definition of transformation normally assumes that some form of consolidation, reengineering, restructuring, or organizational culture change occurs as a part of (or the driver for) a transformation process. As commonly described, transformation initiatives are normally undertaken in response to the forces and demands of the business environment which require that an organization radically change how it does business and how it functions in order to survive in the market place. Over the last 25 years, this kind of organizational transformation has been called many things including, reengineering, rightsizing, and more recently cultural change. But the basic goal of all these approaches has been more or less the same; e.g., to make fundamental changes in how a company organizes and uses its human, material, and financial resources to act on (and react to) the frenetic pace of change in the business environment.
But the day-to-day experience of leading and managing organizations teaches us that the process of transformation is not always as “dramatic” and “radical” as has been portrayed in the choreographed case-studies described in the business literature. Rather, organizational and behavioral transformation is a property of all authentic change at the individual, interpersonal, departmental, and organizational levels. From the human challenges of mastering the skills required to dismantle a piece of equipment, gaining deeper insight into leading and managing more effectively, resolving destructive conflict between departments or organizations, or improving communication and building trust between Federal funding agencies and their contractors; to the organizational challenges of improving, replacing, or reconfiguring a department or entire organization’s structures, systems, and culture, the process of organizational and behavioral transformation is the underlying mechanism of all deep, meaningful, sustainable change.
Organizational transformation has two elements: change and transition. The change required to improve, replace, or reconfigure an organization’s structures, systems, and resources in response to customer demands and the frenetic pace of change in the external environment is situational and tends to happen quickly; e.g., functional “silos” are consolidated with new leadership, organization charts are reconfigured so the right people work together on the right tasks to get the job done, and managers are directed to achieve more aggressive goals with fewer human, financial, and material resources. Transition is the protracted cultural, psychological, and behavioral process that individual managers and staff members go through to learn new ways-of-working and to let go of the old organizational reality and identity that they had before the change took place. Over time, managers and staff members must gain ownership in (and come to terms with) what their new role in the new organization demands of them. The most important lesson to be learned from hundreds of documented transformation initiatives is the necessity to manage both change and transition throughout the entire organizational transformation process.
The Breckenridge Institute® is a management consulting firm that helps leaders and managers transform their organizations and the people in them. The Institute uses its expertise in the areas listed below to help leaders and managers become catalysts for positive change and organizational transformation:
- Developing Strategy
- Improving Execution and Operations
- Consolidation and Transformation
- Organizational Assessments
- Financial and Budget Analysis
- Optimizing Performance in Compliance Environments
- Changing Organizational Culture
- Personality and Career Assessments
- Leadership Development
- Improving Communications and Trust
- Training, Mentoring, and Coaching
- Meeting and Process Facilitation
The Breckenridge Institute® has extensive experience working within the Department of Energy (DOE) complex, and the National Nuclear Security Administration’s (NNSA) nuclear weapons complex (Nuclear Security Enterprise) in the areas of organization development, organizational transformation, and organizational culture.
Since 1995, Breckenridge Institute’s staff of technical and business professionals has been providing the highest levels of service, competence, quality, and value to clients by combining our extensive expertise in organizational transformation and organizational development, with our portfolio of research-based methodologies and validated assessment tools. The Breckenridge Institute® is a member of the Association of Test Publishers (APT) and the Energy Facility Contractors Group (EFCOG). The Breckenridge Institute® is a GSA approved contractor, with a MOBIS Schedule 874 and GSA Advantage Number GS10F0232L. The Breckenridge Institute’s areas of expertise are classified under NAICS Code 541611 (Management, Scientific, and Technical Consulting Services).
Does Your Organization’s Culture Act Like an Invisible Bureaucracy?
Most managers struggle against the flow of overly complex systems and are frustrated by an invisible force that undermines their attempts to make positive change. Their instincts tell them that the organization’s structures, systems, and culture are preventing them from getting the results they want, but “culture” has remained one of the least understood aspects of organizational life because it can act like an Invisible Bureaucracy™ that frustrates and undermines organizational performance. The day-to-day reality of Invisible Bureaucracy™ manifests itself in a number of recurring and troubling questions:
- Why is it so difficult for some organizations to make decisions, and why (once made) do so many decisions go unimplemented?
- Why do most organizations have a gap between the formal rules for how things get done, and the informal rules for how things really get done?
- Why does vital business information get filtered, altered, or stopped as it moves up and down through the organizational structure?
- Why do projects that seem to have the full support of top managers and key personnel die a slow death and no one knows what happened to them?
- Why are some organizations able to change in the face of forces and threats from the external environment while others seem to have “Blind Spots” about these issues and fall prey to them over and over again?
- Why do the universal principles of organization development seem to work in some organizations, but not in others?
- Why do change initiatives so often show failed or marginal results?
- Why are so many organizations driven by fear, rather than being motivated by trust?
Understanding how the forces of Invisible Bureaucracy™ actually work helps leaders and managers become catalysts for positive change and organizational transformation. Many of the principles, practices, methodologies, and tools of transformation are described in Mark Bodnarczuk’s book, Making Invisible Bureaucracy Visible: A Guide to Assessing and Changing Organizational Culture.
Making Invisible Bureaucracy Visible is available on Amazon.com, or at your local bookstore.