In the previous chapter, we looked at the difference between transformation and leadership. Developing and leading change are two different types of work. The first is a process that focuses on identifying opportunities, while the latter is an ongoing effort to improve the way the organization operates. Both of these models have a number of common characteristics. The main difference is in the kind of work they require. The first is about developing people.
In a transformation, everyone has to understand the goals and new ways of doing work. Without this understanding, people are unlikely to be willing to participate in the change, which can impede the success of the transformation. The second type focuses on changing the way work is done. In a transformation, the front line employees have the lowest level of support. This is largely due to the fact that they are the ones directly affected by the transformation initiative.
While the front line is important in a transformation, everyone is equally important. A company’s CEO contributes the most to the success of the program when he or she communicates a compelling change story and aligns messages with the overall strategy. According to McKinsey research, companies that set their transformation targets at 75 percent of trailing earnings were more likely to achieve outsized total shareholder returns. However, there are several other factors that are crucial to a successful transformation.