Drive transformation initiatives

Transformation is the the process of changing completely the character or appearance of something in order to improve it. A transformation initiative includes the conception as well as the sustainable execution of the transformation program. Compared to a change initiative, the desired end state is still unknown at the moment of beginning.


In order to bring sustainable and innovative change, the community of action alone might reach its limits at some point in time. That’s why we need to set up a transformation initiative in such a way that it incorporates and build upon the structures that are already in place within the organization. By combining traditional structures such as pyramidal management hierarchies with the self organizing communities the impact can be maximized. Both systems are usually in place anyways. Why not use them for your advantage by combining them synergistically?


A prerequisite for a successful transformation is that the desired topic is also relevant for your line organization and the business responsibles. In addition, the topic also has to appeal to individual contributors so that they are willing to participate in a community of action. A joint purpose unites both, the line organization and the community of action. You can then use the community of action to bring innovative ideas and prototypes – and the line organization has the power to scale up the innovations.

A more detailed description on how we can combine different ways of working can be found in my article on “Bridging old work and new work – for innovation with impact“. It is built around John Kotter’s concept of building a dual operating system.

The most powerful and sustainable transformation initiative I’ve ever created is the Product & Solution Security Initiative at Siemens. It’s purpose was to to make sure that the products, solutions and services that the company sells become adequately protected against cyber attacks. Started in a time where the topic was quite new and yet due to the massive publicity and impact of a malicious computer worm called Stuxnet, we had the necessary management support to get started. Back then I had the opportunity to build up the community from scratch. I combined the formal definition of roles & responsibilities within each Division with a voluntarily community of practice that over time turned into a community of action. We did this once the formal board that I have established (consisting of the official responsibles in each Division) have together issued the guidance describing what needs to be done in each organization.

Fellowship example – Product & Solution Security Initiative