Transformation Play: Why Transformation Needs to Be Fun
Transformation Play: Why Transformation Needs to Be Fun
By The Epic Talent Society
February 9, 2023
Transformation is not an event, it's a movement that requires time, a clear roadmap, and the commitment of leadership to actually work.
A few years ago, most of our work would be framed around the will for companies to innovate, that was the fancy word that everyone was using: innovation. Nowadays, the word we hear most is: transformation.

Corporate leaders from all job families contact us to design and facilitate transformation. Their hope is that, by some means, they can get ahold of their teams’ ideas in a single-day retreat; they seek clarity on the issues they need to tackle and organize a transformation agenda that addresses the main challenges.

Unfortunately, their hopes are betrayed, simply because transformation is not an event, it’s a movement. Etymologically, transformation means “to go beyond the form of action”, which means they need to do things in new ways.
Transformation is not a moment, it’s a movement
But transformation is not an event; it’s a movement that requires time, a clear roadmap, and the commitment of leadership to actually work, because people need time and trust to explore, to experiment, and to fail in order to learn their way into the future.

We talk a lot about the anatomy of transformation and have compiled a few principles for transformation.

The first thing we all need to accept is that nobody enjoys change, especially the personal change that organizational transformation requires. There is no organizational transformation without personal transformation. Having said that, we can all get better at it if we understand the anatomy of transformation.

Leaders are surfers
In transformation, leaders are like surfers, they can choose the moment and the direction of the wave of change, but they need to be humble enough to accept that only people can create the momentum for transformation.

Only people can create momentum for the wave of transformation

Transformation can’t be achieved through command and decree, and everyone knows that the top-down approach, usually referred to as “cascading” never works. Directors and managers already have too much on their plates and don’t even have the right incentive for change. So we all have to accept that only people can create a wave of change. Confusing cascades with waves may be a costly mistake.
People are dancers
On the other hand, people need to own up to their responsibilities, they may not excuse themselves because the “leaders” don’t give the needed example. No one may say that it’s the culture that inhibits transformation. Transformation happens through contagion. Just like the way we dance at parties, all we need to get started is someone to dance with. We need to trust that everyone else will follow.

Additionally, we believe that transformation is implemented by people. More than brainstorming on ideas that someone else (normally top management or HR) needs to implement. If you agree, you’ll understand that organizational transformation is a collaborative, systemic, endeavor. We find that people enjoy implementing the change they are fond of because nobody likes to implement other people’s ideas, right?

Transformation is a collaborative, systemic endeavour
Transformation is a collaborative, systemic, effort, so we all need to collaborate better and understand that people engage in pure collaboration for the thrill and emotional salary that come from using their talent (more than their expertise and experience).

Collaboration and execution are very different, as Steve Blank illustrates, we all need to be ambidextrous and be able to use both work protocols. Execution is great to drive results and create wealth, but value precedes results and emerges from collaborative work principles and protocols.

Collaboration implies that we master teamwork and that all team members lead (not just the boss), according to their talents, in different phases of the transformation journey.
Transformation requires intrapreneurs to work in small teams, with new work protocols
To master teamwork, we must play ideal roles defined by our abilities rather than our experience or expertise. So everyone needs to be open to discovering and discussing the team members’ talents and agreeing on their roles.

Collaborative leadership is rotational, so everyone leads, according to the different phases of the transformation journey.

We use 3 different archetypes to define roles and phases:

1 – Envisioners – those who are predominantly creative and like to solve problems – lead the team from the problem phase to a commitment with a bold idea.

2 – Structurers – those who are predominantly logical – lead the team as they transform the idea into a structured plan.

3 – Ultimately Energizers – those who communicate effectively and briefly – lead the way in creating a great pitch for top management to understand what the team wishes to implement.

Over time, with a clear roadmap and three dedicated workshops, teams develop learning agility, together. On the way they fail and learn, they transform as individuals and forge the relationships among themselves and harvest on the value of their diversity and complementary roles.

Transformation is actually like the Dutch biscuit “Stroopwafels”: hard in the beginning, messy in the middle, and sweet at the end. One thing is for sure: it takes time, and you have to commit to it.

We believe that transformation is an ongoing phenomenon, so transformative cultures rise from having fun and solving problems (ideally client problems). From our perspective, transformation can be serious and fun at the same time. Actually, we’d argue that you can only continuously transform if you’re having fun.
Transformation needs to be fun!
HR Transformation - Case Study:
In a recent transformation project, we focused on the challenges of HR transformation. We interviewed the company’s stakeholders on how business challenges required talent transformation. We discovered 10 main challenges in HR transformation.

We conducted research to find trends and technologies that may support HR transformation. We also benchmarked for case studies of companies that had solved these challenges and designed a card game to help the talent team discuss and create key initiatives that they’d be excited to implement (in teams) at the client. We facilitated rapid prototype projects to present to top management in the hopes of receiving approval using specific frameworks.

In the end, we produced a game for HR transformation, by designing a HR Challenge Mandala, a Card Deck, and a Specific Framework to structure HR initiatives.

If you find some of these challenges within your organization, feel free to ask us for these goodies, or just call us to find out how we can help you make transformation fun, in a structured process.
Transformation Roadmap
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