The transformation challenge and the change leader’s job — Doug Ready

MIT Sloan Senior Lecturer Doug Ready

MIT Sloan Senior Lecturer Doug Ready


Why has implementing Enterprise-Wide Transformation proven to be troubling? When challenges persist it is often because there are embedded tensions or paradoxes that surface that seem unresolvable.

There are at least five embedded tensions that make the successful implementation of enterprise transformations persistently difficult. They are:


Revitalization ↔ Normalization

Globalization ↔ Simplification

Innovation ↔ Regulation

Optimization ↔ Rationalization

Digitization ↔ Humanization

At the core of many transformation efforts is the desire to breathe new life into the organization―to revitalize ways of thinking, behaving and working. A leader’s typical and, in fact, reasonable response is to introduce a change initiative into the organization. One of the problems that employees face is that a change initiative often morphs into multiple change initiatives, and seldom are these initiatives coordinated or provided the context required to make sense out of them. With so many “change programs” coming at people from so many directions, employees can easily become “change weary,” and yearn for some level of normalcy. Thus, we find ourselves in the conflicted situation of needing revitalization but desiring normalization.Let’s examine each of these tensions…

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