What Every Disrupter Needs to Know About Transformation

Beyond the buzzword, disrupting the status quo requires insight into the art of transformation.

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By Patti Fletcher

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Leading transformation is the responsibility of leaders. With complex changes happening all the time, if we humans are not changing ourselves and the world around us, we can't adapt, we won't keep up and we certainly cannot thrive.

Why should we care about this thing called transformation?

In a time period of constant innovation, our lives are always being transformed by outside factors we do not control. In order to be the kind of leader who makes change happen and who can adapt to change happening to us and the people around us, we first have to define what transformation looks like and how it's different from everyday change.

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So, what exactly is transformation?

This seems like a good place to start the conversation. Many forms of change require process alterations where people-to-people transactions look different. For example, call center employees are frequently given new metrics to work toward, such as the time it takes to resolve a customer's issue. While this change is important, it's not life-altering. The type of variation represented by transformation I am addressing is the kind of change that results in a paradigm shift. The kind of paradigm shift that takes a status quo, challenges it and creates a new reality, a new status quo. The kind of transformation we are focusing on makes change from the inside out. It alters personal values, collective cultural values. The scale of change may be massive, but the scope might be relatively micro. Your personal life may be going through a state of transformation, such as breaking a cycle of bad decision-making. Or maybe, it's a large-scale transformation, such as experiencing a shift in your organizational or industry culture. The most important and critical piece of the transformation is that it sustains the change. It's a movement that is built to last.

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Is all transformation the same?

Transformation tends to come in one of two forms. Although there are different forms of lasting transformation, there are two that stand out in industrial and societal disruption. One way is top-down change where a leader or leaders of a business or government creates a top-down change. It may seem big, but tends to be evolutionary and part of an overall, big picture strategy. This is the type of transformation that tends to happens to us. Then there's the bottom-up, revolutionary change, that comes from the ranks where transformation tends to be more disruptive. Whichever transformation we are talking about or experiencing, there is one thing in common -- and it's not processes or procedures. It's people. People must be at the center of every strategy and plan for large scale, disruptive transformation.

Patti Fletcher

Entrepreneur Leadership Network VIP

Leadership Futurist and Gender Equity Advocate

Dr. Patti Fletcher is the author of Disrupters: Success Strategies from Women Who Break the Mold (Entrepreneur Press 2018). Dr. Patti is an enterprise tech CMO, gender equity expert, board member and keynote speaker who has spent her career at the intersection of technology, business and people.

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