Explore the Unknown – But give it a Purpose!



Let's talk about the unknown, let's talk about the fear of the unknown. We all have that fear. Why is that? Because our brainstem wants to protect us from predators, so it is not safe to go out there. Yet, in evolution change is the only constant. So how can we overcome that fear to change? Unfortunately the most common trigger for change is pain. A more logical but less likely one is a combination of courage and foresight; two important characteristics for transformers.


Every great inventor, at the start, did not know the exact final outcome of his venture. So taking risks, not knowing what the outcome might be, maybe fearful, yet it is the only way to improve. How can we overcome that fear of the unknown to adapt our ways of thinking and ways of working?


Let's look at what the word transform actually means and what differentiates transformation from change: “Change uses external influences to modify actions, but transformation modifies beliefs so actions become natural and there by achieve the desired result.”*


Here a more nature like analogy: “When a snake sheds its skin it changes; when a caterpillar becomes a butterfly, it transforms.”**


So in other words, transformation brings you from a present state of mind into a desired state of mind: It is about you and your mindset. However, we need to have a clear purpose in all we do to initiate transformation with meaning. What if you don’t? Well clearly, if you initiate transformation without meaning, without a purpose, or you just change or do things differently with no real purpose, not knowing where you are heading to, you're wasting your time and the time of your team. Still many leaders see change as a necessary process activity. With no meaningful transformation first, change will be in vain or even worse, it will lead to results that are detrimental to the desired purpose.


So transformation for me is not an activity, it's the basis for constant goal oriented improvement of business processes. And don't try this alone. Involve your team from day one.

Transformation with meaning needs a common mindset. Get together with your team, define what success looks like for each one of them and what brings the organisation forward and look for that common purpose.


Now, aligning the purpose with the team is surely important, even more so is aligning the purpose with the other main stakeholders of your organisation. That obviously includes, but it's not limited to, your internal and external clients.


In these times of financial uncertainty many large organisations started the process of zero based budgeting. That means whatever your budget was last year, you will have to start from scratch to defend that amount for next year.


So transformation with meaning could well be a process that gives you all the right reasons to get your budget approved for next year.


* Source: John Palinkas, IT Transformation Institute

** Source: Rob Llewellyn, Business Transformation Academy

Author: Gerrit Jessen CED CMM CMP

Senior Consultant & Partner Germany

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