Commentary by Dr. Whitesel: “Transformation and change are two different things. Change involves adjusting programs, people and tactics. While transformation involves reinventing the entire organization. Therefore transformation involves guiding an organizational culture into a new and healthier culture. Many leaders fail because they don’t recognize the difference and the different tools (below) required for each.
Change involves, ‘making the business case, building a coalition of leaders, getting early results, engaging stakeholders, executing with discipline’ and monitoring/adjusting results’ (p. 2-3)…
‘Transformation is another animal altogether. Unlike change management, it doesn’t focus on a few discrete, well-defined shifts, but rather on a portfolio of initiatives, which are interdependent or intersecting. More importantly the overall goal of transformation is not just executed to find change but to reinvent the organization and discover a new or revised business model based on a vision for the future. It’s much more unpredictable, iterative, and experimental. It entails much higher risk. And even if successful change management leads to the execution of certain initiatives within a transformation portfolio, the overall transformation could still fail’ (p. 3).
Transformation therefore involves, ‘flexible and dynamic coordination of resources, stronger collaboration across boundaries, and communication in the midst of uncertainty’ (p. 4).
I have made the case in the ‘Strategic Management’ chapter of the Wright and Smith (eds.) book, The Church Leaders’ MBA’ (Ohio Christian Univ. Press, 2009) that transforming churches means:
- Getting multiple cultures to work together
- In one church
- To reach and unite multiple community cultures.
This creates a healthy church with multiple sub-congregations respecting one another and working together for greater impact (steps to this can be found in Whitesel, ‘The Healthy Church,’ Wesleyan Publishing House, 2012).
Thus church transformation brings the Good News to a larger segment of the community – while also reconciling/uniting disparate community cultures.
For more on the important difference between change and transformation read this Harvard Business Review article.”