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The More Things Transform, the More They Stay the Same

Three books purport to take us beyond Radical Change, past Reengineering, further than Growth — and on to Transformation! With so much transformation going on, how could they be so much the same?

Book The Transformation Imperative
(Harvard Business School Press, 1996)
The Transformation of Management
(Butterworth-Heinemann, 1996)
Transforming the Organization
(McGraw-Hill, 1995)
Author Thomas E Vollman, associate director of the Manufacturing 2000 Project at IMD International in Switzerland Mike Davidson, president of Davidson Associates Francis J. Gouillart and James N. Kelly, both senior vice presidents of Gemini Consulting
What's Wrong with Reengineering? Lacks "'golden thread of reason' to prioritize or integrate efforts." Lacks "truly holistic approach." Lacks "top-down, holistic perspective.
New Improved Version of Radical Change "Enterprise transformation," a "deep, broad, fundamental change in operational paradigms, practices, and outputs." "Business transformation," the "shift from one economic long wave to the next." "Business transformation," the "orchestrated redesign of the genetic architecture of the corporation
Magic Number for Successful Change Four, as in the Four Essential Features of Transformation: Integration, Consistency, Feasibility, Desirability. Four, as in the Four Fundamental Challenges: Mission, Competition, Performance, Change. Four, as in the Four Rs: Reframing, Restructuring, Revitalization, Renewal.
Real Change Technique Violence: "Dominate or die." Violence: "Cutting off bodies of troops still standing and threatening them in the rear," as inspired by the "Age of Battles." Pain: "Valley of Death" workshop, makes execs feel so much pain they emerge convinced "anything is better than the status quo,"
Corporate Hero (After Poisoning Scandal) Johnson & Johnson, because its corporate credo "shapes the company's ... responses to unforeseen circumstances. Johnson & Johnson, because its credo is a way of "setting priorities and of choosing between alternative courses of action." Johnson & Johnson, because its credo helps to "communicate the firm's priorities."
Whipping Boys (After Missing Change) GM, which "seriously underestimated the paradigm shift required," and IBM, which didn't reach the necessary "conclusion as to whether a paradigm shift is required." GM and IBM, both embedded in a "perverted version of the management paradigm." GM, "embedded in its physical infrastructure," and IBM, victim of "overly intense introspection."
Favorite Dead Philosophers Plato Aristotle, Heraclitus, Hobbes, Seneca, Sun Tzu Locke
Favorite Living CEOs Lars Kolind of Oticon Jack Welch of GE Jack Welch of GE
Worst Metaphor "Old, established" companies like GM and IBM "are a bit like the man falling off the top of the Empire State Building and shouting into each window as he passes: 'Haven't hit the pavement yet!'" " 'Strategic planning is like a Chinese meal. After I eat it I feel full, but three hours later it's as if I hadn't eaten at all." Companies need visions just like those of "slalom racers sitting against trees, eyes closed, swaying and moving their hands like overdressed exotic dancers as they visualize the course. They aren't insane.