Many people use the words “change” and “transformation” interchangeably – as though they mean exactly the same thing. But they don’t mean the same thing … whilst certainly related, there is so much more to transformation than there is to change, even big change.
Let’s compare dictionary definitions to start with and for, for no particular reason, I am using Australia’s Macquarie Online Dictionary:
CHANGE – to make different; alter in condition, appearance, etc
TRANSFORM – to change in appearance, condition, nature, or character, especially completely or extensively.
The key difference in the two definitions is clear – transformation involves change that is complete or extensive. An analogy that I often use in a meeting room is that painting the wall green would be a change. Setting up a cafe in the meeting room would be a transformation.
But, in my opinion, there is so more to it than that.
Change can be minor. Transformation can NOT be minor. Change can occur with little momentum. Transformation needs a champion – sometimes a superhero – to drive it, often against strong tides of organisational inertia. Change is a process. Transformation is a mindset, an attitude.
True transformation creates discomfort. True transformation creates uncertainty. True transformation creates disruption.
Change often happens by accident. Transformation is never an accident – transformation is always a deliberate choice.