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What can science, medicine and nature teach us about transformation?

By Bradley de Souza | Oct. 20, 2016
Tips on transformation.

Transformation or change agents can be regarded like immunosuppressant drugs given to transplant patients. The longer the drugs are administered, the greater the chance the body has to accept the transplant. Once the drugs are stopped, unless the transplant has been precisely matched to the patient, the rejection process will begin and the transplant will fail.

Bradley de Souza

A few answers

Understanding how people deal with change will help organisations become successful at instigating changes which can lead to transformation.

Sir John Harvey Jones, the famous industrialist and corporate troubleshooter, observed that in Japan, successful rival firms spent a lot of time internally discussing their projects with all involved. He saw this approach effectively ensured that everyone was on the same page and understood precisely what was required at all times.

An executive at a major Australian bank once commented that we live our life forwards and understand it backwards. Acknowledging this fact helps us to optimise the process of retrospective understanding aka hindsight. We can apply this logic to change initiatives. Perfecting the balance between reviewing status and making progress is the key to gaining forward momentum.

Changes that lead to transformation requires constant focus. Transformation is a culture, it is continuous, it is ongoing. It is not a special process or a project. In order for change to take hold, it must happen incrementally, continuously and over time. Only then does change result in transformation.


We need to recognise and act quickly when change is required. Conversely we must avoid doing anything sudden and drastic as this carries an inherent risk. Also, the bigger the change, the less likely it is to succeed. Above all, change needs to be incremental, iterative and ongoing.

Regardless of when things occurs, people are involved. Understanding how they behave is the key to modifying behaviour and culture. Lasting change that leads to transformation can only be achieved via a change in culture. Affecting one person is challenging. but changing the behaviour and culture of an entire organisation, especially when some of the consequences may be job loss, is daunting.

Points to note:

· Have a clear and positive transformation purpose: People need to understand how they will benefit at an individual level.

· Key people need the ability to quickly adapt to changing conditions: Select the right change agents to lead by example.

· Senior stakeholders need to be visible and accountable: Lead by example and avoid using scapegoats.

· Transformation agents need to feel safe taking risks: Bold decisions can take time to yield benefits.

· Identify the storytellers in the organisation: Help take the people on the journey, especially when things get tough.


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