by Garvin Heerah
The metamorphosis of caterpillar to butterfly has been spoken about over and over again. Many of the leadership gurus, both at the secular and faith-based platforms, have referenced this “movement.”
It is indeed a classic example of transformation. We accept that transformation is a profound, fundamental change that alters the very nature of something. Transformational change is both radical and sustainable.
Therefore, it is imperative that the message is communicated clearly. This message is—“Something that is transformed can never go back to exactly what it was before.”
Many of us would talk the talk of transformation, but delay, cower and creep when it comes to walking the walk of transformation.
Whether you want to believe it or not, transformation is a warfare.
It is a battle. Fought on a battlefield that would involve bedfellows, best friends, opponents and enemies.
Simple story, there was once an open parcel of land that connected two parts of a village. For years, the villagers would pass through this parcel of land to get to the other side or connecting streets. They traversed there for so long that a footpath became carved into the ground and stones of the land. One day, “the owner” decided to erect a fence and prevent the villagers from passing. He went further to erect a sign, boldly stating that trespassers will be prosecuted and the specific law was quoted and painted roughly in black and white for all to see.
He was met with immediate resistance. There were threats and acts of violence against himself, his property and they went so far as to threaten his family. They were hooked to the old adage that practice over a period, unmolested, becomes law.
Understandably, there might have been some truth to all of this. The lesson in this short story is not what was done, but how it was done. Because there might have been some flaws in the approach, it gave birth to the fuel of the warfare, a word that has now been weaponised in society, that word is resistance.
Why? Because everybody wants change! But nobody wants to change! The moment you begin communicating change and transformation, those lurking in the shadows see an opportunity to resist, cause de-railing, encourage sabotage and would prefer to see the plan fail rather than offer support.
We look on from the bleachers, call out the faults, detect the cracks and single out the corrosion. However, when we are approached to join and lend a helping hand, support or give an opinion, we go mute. Why? We prefer to resist rather than change.
So there is a warfare in transformation. An ensuing battle that can go on and on without end, unless you man up, grab the beast by the horn and implement with strong convincing leadership.
This brings me to my next point. Successful transformation is not only face lifts and improvements to infrastructure, upgrades and development to ICT, reduction in expenses and separation packages. Those are dynamics of the change process. Sometimes, these dynamics, and there are more, would take years of roll out and implementation. What is most important are the three pillars of the change management process. As organisations undergo development, the intention is to achieve organisational efficiency. However, to arrive at the point of organisational efficiency ALL organisations MUST undergo transformation.
The key to this transformation, the doorway to the successful turnaround is, looking integrally and surgically into the leadership, motivation and culture of the organisation.
If you fail to raise these boulders and shake the dust of habitual practices, and make uncomfortable some of the comfort zones of culture, all you will be undergoing is a clearly defined circle that will bring you right back to the start point with millions of dollars wasted.
The message is clear, if you are preparing for transformation, prepare for the warfare. Some may see it as a structural approach to progressive development and best practice. Others may see it as blocking them from passing through what is not rightfully theirs to so do.
During the change process and the numerous exercises, be prepared to examine how the organisation is led. How decisions are being made. How are crises being managed and how are we preparing those below us to succeed and assume leadership in our succession planning. A good launch pad would be to ask, “Are our leaders transformational or transactional?”
We must also thoroughly examine the motivational temperature check. My grandmother used to say, “All skin teeth is no grin!” And she was absolutely correct. Are our people smiling, or grinding their teeth? Are our people walking around with painted smiles powdered with hypocrisy, or are they genuinely happy to be part of this organisation? If our people are hurting, then...our organisation is hurting.
Lastly, how do we do business here? What type of culture exists?
We can work around the clock, installing all the devices of change and development, and if we fail to address the culture of the organisation, we will not succeed.
Culture is the elephant in the room. It runs so deep that it begins to flow in the DNA of our people, transforming into a way of life and spreading into households and behaviours of even our stakeholders.
Culture goes way beyond re-branding and re-designing of logos and emblems, or change in uniforms.
Nope!!! Culture is re-shaping minds and lives. Not everyone is ready nor prepared for such a shift. If that’s the issue, then their interest was never institutional, but always self.
The vision must be kept alive, the vision must be clearly communicated and the vision must be measured over time.
The reality is—transformation is a warfare!!