Change and Transformation

We frequently experience the terms “Change” and “Transformation” being used interchangeably, especially in the organisation development sector and the wanna-be-sexy-start-up world.
They are not at all the same.

Change is pervasive. It accompanies us through life. We grow, we evolve, we develop. It may be biological, such as how our body and mind changes as we grow older. It may be the result of conscious decisions, for example, changing our diet, our workplace, our apartment. Organisations may change their structure, the boss may change, colleagues come and go, neighbours move in and out.
The process may flow, it may stumble, it may be rough.
You notice the differences. However, much of the old is recognisable and remains in place.

Transformation is fundamental; the complete eco-system changes.
Nothing will ever be the same again.


… From personal life: You have children. You separate/divorce from your long-time partner. You emigrate. You fundamentally change the direction of your life.

… From the political world: The ending of apartheid in South Africa, the fall of communist regimes in Europe in 1989, the fall of the Berlin Wall, the first and second world wars, independence of African and Asian countries from colonialism, war-related destruction that drives people from their homes, the erection of new “national” borders.

… From the organisation world: A corporate acquisition.

… Technological revolution: The invention of railways, the car, flying, the internet.

To effectively support clients in our work with people and organisations, it is not only essential to distinguish between change and transformation, we need to have experienced them personally. Only those who have felt the impact of transformation can sense how it might be for others. We can certainly never “know”.