Dance at the Totem: Celebrating change and transformation
The concept of a “totem” originates from the indigenous North American Ojibwe culture. It could be a spirit being, object, or symbol that serves as an emblem of a group of believers. At why innovation!, we like to use this concept to guide our regular gatherings - as our consultant Pedro Pimentel
described, “(it is) to celebrate, to admire, to pray, to evolve!”
In this article you will read:
- How why innovation! people leveraged the same techniques that we advise our clients to use for our own company goal setting
- The blurry gap between organisational change and transformation and why it is important for business leaders to adopt a human centred approach
- Change isn’t just about planning new things – it’s about understanding what makes your organisation unique, building a shared vision and incrementally evolving.
- Most successful transformations start with building a common understanding of the current state. What’s next?
Last week, 26 whyers came together to the Red Dot for the most recent instalment of what we call “Totem Dancing”. Whilst we don’t call upon any spirits directly, we get together to share our most recent experiences, catch up with those we haven’t seen in a while, but also to imagine the future and build a vision for what we want to achieve together – always centred on creating better ways to support our clients in their plans for digital leadership and transformation.
One of the keys to building adaptive organisations is by putting people at the centre of leading change and imagining the future state. For the most recent Totem Dancing, we listened to our own advice, and rolled up our sleeves to collaboratively define where we want to see why innovation! go in the next few years. We conducted iterative market research, strategic analysis and produced roadmaps to guide our plans for 2019 and beyond. Everyone had a say in the direction of the company – at this early stage, no idea was a bad idea.
To warm us up for this activity, our Managing Director, Yann Hamon
, took the time to share some industrial trends in the sphere of agile and digital transformation. The agile way of working is becoming more and more recognised and welcomed by many organisations. Several companies have made "turning into agile" their strategic vision. However, our work this year has shown us that large companies still need support to approach these initiatives in the right way.
Traditionally, organisational change is seen as incremental or organic change, often delivered in large structured programs, whilst transformation has typically been associated with disruptive or discontinuous growth, focused on catalysing change. However, as pointed out by Paul Oh
(one of our change experts in Hong Kong) and confirmed through our combined experience, both are best delivered incrementally to deal with VUCA (volatile, uncertain, complex, and ambiguous) environment, due the constant re-assessment and planning required.
So, as change and transformation are now almost synonymous with each other, a key question that we often hear business leaders ask around these topics is – “Will we ever reach an end state?’ Our answer is no; that the approach to leading change needs to be re-examined.
Over the past five years, we have helped over 30 mainly large companies to embrace agile and innovation across the organisation. We have seen that the most successful change initiatives aren’t just about ‘big bang transformation’ or adopting the latest trendy frameworks. We have seen that change doesn’t just happen by top-down leadership or flying in consultants to run one-off workshops to put together a 5-year plan.
The most successful change requires an ability to listen to all levels of the organisation and constantly review, plan and evolve- getting feedback and adapting these plans on a monthly or shorter cadence.This all starts with building a common understanding of the current state; having the right metrics for success, but most of all, it is about building a shared belief in the vision for the future.
So, besides the drinking, eating, and dancing at our Totem Dancing- we also used the time to collaboratively define how we wanted to change in order to bring our vision to life - to continue to shape the future of innovation and organisations in Asia for 2019, and beyond.
Now the hard work to make it a reality is ahead of us – and we hope that we can involve you in being part of this journey!