Organizational Transformation

Plot the future of your organization

Organizational transformation should be constant

Change is a constant for all organizations these days, which means you’re likely implementing change management strategies. But if your change processes don’t take stock of what your people need and put people at the center of your organizational transformation, all of your efforts may be for naught.

Change isn’t linear or static. That means organizations must embrace continual transformation. They must remain agile, resilient and flexible so they can anticipate future change and pivot as necessary to remain relevant.

But change isn’t just a matter of transforming processes and technology. To achieve change, organizations must strive to build a people-centric organization.

Organizational Transformation insights

FAQs about organizational transformation

What is the concept of organizational change?

Organizational change is a process that seeks to transform an organization to ensure it delivers on its vision, creates a competitive advantage, overcomes a serious challenge or achieves a significant goal.

Successful organizational change requires organizations to transform on multiple levels:

  • Leadership capabilities: Organizations need the right people with the right skills and competencies to lead change. Our research shows that the leadership qualities necessary for success in digital transformation include curiosity, risk taking, adaptability, tolerance of ambiguity and confidence.
  • Structure and roles: Traditional hierarchies with a chain-of-command leadership model don’t work in connected, inclusive businesses. Today, organizations need multidisciplinary teams and input from a variety of stakeholders, both inside and outside the organization, to achieve their goals.
  • People, skills and behaviors: Digitally sustainable organizations need a diverse workforce that’s empowered to solve problems, innovate and improve customer service. Organizations must recruit and develop talent with a variety of skills and backgrounds that enable flexibility and agility.
  • Processes, systems, measures and rewards: People want to work for an organization with a purpose — but they also want to be rewarded for their work. And that work must be guided by clear processes, systems and technology that enable them by making their work faster, better and easier.
  • Transition support and planning: Organizations must take a disciplined approach to executing change. They must realize the impact of change on the business and keep their focus on their future vision as they invest in technology, innovation and their people.

In sum, organizational change requires a comprehensive approach to embed the ability to continually transform throughout the employee lifecycle.

How do you achieve organizational transformation?

Organizations can undertake the transformation process in a number of ways. At Korn Ferry, we believe that organizations that transform in a radically human way — in a way that keeps the focus on their people — build a foundation that enables them to more readily achieve their goals.

A radically human organizational transformation consists of three steps:

  • Imagine: This stage focuses on your organization’s purpose. Consider whether your organization’s purpose is still valid, along with the principles underpinning it. Should they change to match your vision for the company? In this process, you should explore how your purpose can create innovation, deliver new revenue streams and unlock different ways of working. You may want to solicit external feedback from stakeholders, including customers and partners, about what they value about your organization. They can help you discover not only your blind spots but also your hidden strengths. Also think about how the influencers in your organization can inspire change.
  • Architect: Reinvent, experiment and identify what is and isn’t working for your organization. A cross-functional leadership team, which we call the catalyst team, can ensure your change journey is people-led. Their goal should be to develop your organization’s change muscle, so you can adapt continuously going forward. This team and others should brainstorm and test new ways of working and leading. This is the experimentation stage, so it may be appropriate to make big, bold moves here. For example, you may need to divest legacy businesses that no longer align with your purpose or reinvest in opportunities that reflect your new mission.
  • Transform: Start formally rebuilding the organization based on what you’ve learned. Begin implementing new capabilities, structures, processes, governance and reward models. Review your internal policies, processes and procedures, making sure they serve your organization’s purpose and values.

A radically human organization gives people the structures, systems and resources they need to excel at their job, then gets out of their way. When people experience the shift in mindset and behavior through your change management process, they will create new habits and ways of working.

Why is workplace experience (WX) important for organizational transformation?

We define workplace experience (WX) as the combination of your organizational culture, employee experience, technology, physical surroundings and operations to deliver the optimal work environment. It centers on the fact that employees drive outcomes for your business. The better your employees’ WX, the better your organization’s results. A strong WX yields high employee engagement, which also means better productivity and talent retention.

The stronger your WX, the higher-performing your employees are and the more willing they will be to change and innovate how they work. That’s because the elements of WX are the drivers of organizational transformation.

As you think about how to transform, you’ll have to consider what changes are necessary to the human, physical and digital experiences of your employees. When you optimize all three of these experiences, your employees will be more engaged and enabled to do their work, and you’ll foster an organizational culture that supports innovation.

What is digital transformation of organizations?

We’re in the age of digital disruption. Although the transformation from analog to digital began as early as the 1980s, with digital watches and CDs, the pace of change has accelerated in recent years. First was the emergence of online marketplaces and e-commerce, followed in rapid succession by social media and the cloud.

As these technologies have come to the forefront, businesses have had to change with them. The ability to continuously respond to change is digital sustainability. And while we call the process of building digital sustainability “digital transformation,” it’s really a deeper transformation at the human level. While technology is the enabler of change, your people must execute the change.

Creating a digitally sustainable organization means you’ll need to rethink how you work and reskill, upskill and hire new talent with the skills and competencies to adapt to change. Digital transformation also requires change management, because your organization will need to embed these changes into your organizational culture, values, processes and workflows.

Why do we need change management to transform an organization?

Change management is a key part of transitions to new business environments and circumstances. A change management strategy, when implemented well, ensures that change is meaningful and sustainable.

Traditionally, change management processes have required long timelines because of clunky, extended rollouts. Typical change management activities, such as impact assessments and training, can’t keep up with the pace and scale required to meet today’s challenges. Data show that these techniques aren’t sufficient to build lasting change.

The constant state of change requires an accelerated, agile approach to change management. It also requires that change management be human-centric. That means change must be embedded throughout the employee life cycle. Organizations must take steps to enable both leaders and employees with the right tools and capabilities to sustain change.