“Change” is Always the Wrong End-Game!

A leadership manager’s job is to know and understand her or his competition. That’s the same requirement I have as a consultant, so I look in depth for those individuals who are professing something which my pragmatic experience says, “that’s not the issue.”

“Change” is a word I look for in competitive articles, because this normally tells me it is a coach or a mentor who does not know what they are talking about. And they are plentiful!

Change Management! Leading breakthrough change! Driving Change in your Department! Creating Change! Why Change is Hard! Managing Change! Coaching Change! Rebutting Those Against Change!

Nine times out of ten, these articles are driven by business coaches who have a module of L&D, both on site and online. It’s not about mastering the competencies, because most leaders are not prepared to understand the hard-skill competencies of the management function of Organizing. Few leaders even realize there are 6 Functions of Leadership Management: Strategy, Planning, Organizing, Leadership, Teamwork, and Control, and 65 competencies to master.

Organizing might be the function where “change” is found, but unfortunately since the year 2002, management consultants do not call it “change” anymore, and there’s a reason for that.

Around 1998, the guru’s at McKinsey, BCG, PWC and Arthur Andersen got together to discuss what “change” was all about, and they determined that “change” was a derogatory word to a CEO or executive, because it had a negative connotation.

That was true, similar to using the word “restructuring.” Say either of those two words at the company’s morning coffee klatsch, and you can bet that at the individual’s dinner table that night, the family will think that layoffs are coming.

Here’s the definition from the Vocabulary for Success.


“Restructuring (See Reformation or Transformation)

To alter, or effect, a fundamental change in an organization or process.

The words “restructuring” and “change” are not used in management since 1998, when a meeting of management consultants determined both words had a negative connotation of layoffs in a company.”

The words also do not identify the true objective as well. For example, if a department manager has worked on continuous improvement (a hard-skill competency), to optimize inventory control it usually means that an action plan is put in place within her department where the workloads of inventory control specialists optimize according to a KPI or metric. Does the word “change” fit here? No way. But the word “reformation” does.


Reformation, Organizational

Organizational reformation occurs when a CEO or executive revises the workloads of the individuals within a unit of the organization to create greater efficiency.

Reformation is the common term for what used to be referred to as restructuring.

Note that reformation does not affect the business model of the company or unit. That’s a major difference than change.

But what about when there IS an impact on the business model of the company? That’s not “change” either, as it is called “transformation.” Let’s look back at the definition from the Vocabulary for Success.


Transformation, Organizational

Organizational transformation occurs when a CEO or leadership manager changes the workloads of the individuals within a unit of the organization with the purpose of creating a customer centric new business model for achieving the unit’s objectives/metrics.

It is much more effective for a CEO or executive to transform the organization following an annual continuous improvement project throughout the entire organization. The transformed units will address forward looking issues of the customer as opposed to backward looking issues of the current and past.

Transformation affects the business model of the company. We see this a lot in the transformation of sales, marketing, and customer service into a customer-centric unit now called “customer engagement.” Did you know the Gartner Group no longer has a magic-quadrant for CRM systems? It is now called “customer engagement” and relates to the transformation of individual departments that had silos of their own objectives and metrics, now transformed into one set of objectives for all 3 units.

So when you hear the word “change,” keep in mind that it’s a misnomer. This is why the hard-skill competencies of Reformation and Transformation are so important to master as an executive.  Change means everything to a coach, but means little to a leadership manager!