What is Your Transformation Engine?


“In the future, the real core competence of companies will be the ability to continuously and creatively destroy and remake themselves to meet customer demands.”

Noel Tichy, Author of The Leadership Engine

Animation of a radial engine.

The concept of re-inventing ourselves is not new. There are countless examples of this mantra in history (think about the U.S.S.R, Germany, or China) and our contemporary culture (think of the TV show The Biggest Loser or the movie The Pursuit of Happyness). The concept rarely lacks lustre. The real challenge surrounds your willingness and ability to reinvent  yourself. How do you reinvent yourself? Your team? Your company? Your community?

From a transformation perspective, the challenge is to create an engine that will drive your change agenda to produce your desired results. To make this happen, a couple of key questions should to be answered to set you off in the right direction, including but not limited to:

  • Do you know where you are going? What are your desired financial results? What are your desired non-financial results? How do these two sets of results relate to each other?
  • How will you drive the transformation? Who serves as the gas pedal? Who serves as the brakes? How do you minimize stepping on the gas and the brake simultaneously?
  • Who are the brains of your transformation? Do you have enough? Do you have the right ones? Are they performing to your needs?
  • Where is the heart of your change agenda? Is your team engaged? Have you won the hearts and minds of the team?
  • Would you describe your transformation engine as “command, control, & authority”, “collaborative innovation”, or “priority driven teamwork”?
  • Are you unleashing the professional, personal, and emotional capacity of the team to maximize your opportunity for success? If not, why not? What can you do differently to make this happen?
  • As with any engine, what is  your fuel? Are you maintaining your engine? Is it working in concert with the other moving parts or are they out of sync components?

Behind every result, good or bad, there are a series of events. And behind those events are people making decisions, or not, that impact the future. If you know your desired results, you are one step ahead of most. With the benefit of understanding the desired results, your challenge is to identify the transformation engine and associated capabilities that will propel you to deliver your desired financial and non-financial results.

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Do you have white knuckles?


How often do you find yourself holding on a little too tight? Do you have a “kung-fu grip” on your project, program, responsibilities, transformation, and/or life?

In a recent exchange with colleagues, we discussed this phenomenon. Enterprise transformations have pros and cons and tendency to cause white knuckles more often than not. One of the pros is the once in a lifetime journey that these endeavors provide, and one of the cons is the once in a lifetime journey that these endeavors provide!

Enterprise transformations are launched with the goal of rebuilding companies through significant change. You might think having the right goals, organizational structure, products, feasibility to meet financial commitments, partners, go to market strategy, etc. are the key to your transformation. While all these are vitally important to the end result of the transformation, I would suggest that to truly thrive in these environments, you look inside yourself and embrace your own personal change on the following 4 levels:

  1. Intellectual – What is your capacity to deal with complexity, unexpected challenges, first of a kind problems, thinking on your feet, etc.?
  2. Physical – Quite simply, how healthy are you?
  3. Emotional – How do you deal with adversity, ambiguity, self-confidence, self-doubt, self-awareness, conflict?
  4. Spiritual – What do you believe? Who do you believe in? What are your life philosophies? From where do you draw energy?

Do you know if you are holding on too tight? How? Do you know when you are squeezing the life out of your project, program, teammates, friends, family? Enterprise transformations will undoubtedly challenge your capacity across these 4 personal levels. What investments will you make to change your intellectual, physical, emotional, and spiritual capacity?

If this resonates with you, you may want to check out Noel Tichy‘s famous book “The Leadership Engine”. In this book he describes that each of us lead based on three concepts: Ideas, Values, and E3 (emotional energy, & edge). Noel’s model is very useful, and put into practice can help you understand your personal leadership model, which in turn will help you navigate the intellectual, physical, emotional, and spiritual growth offered via enterprise transformations.

No matter what leadership model, or personalization you inject into your enterprise transformation, recall that it is unacceptable for any one person in a transformation to acknowledge that the enterprise is undergoing drastic change, but not them personally.