Leading Transformation: Introduction

February 1st




There are five questions that inevitably must be faced by any leader who seeks to lead enterprise transformation. Difficult challenges involve the timing of the launch of the transformation initiatives, the role of innovation in defining the future vision, the best way to formulate successful strategy, the best way to manage implementation dynamically, and to how to institutionalize the process of sustaining the gains. No matter how the need to transform presents itself, these five core topics will be at the top of the list of the challenges that future leaders and their boards must face.

In the past two decades, and particularly in places like the Postal Service, newspapers and the telephone companies, technology has played a critical role in forcing the issue. But it’s important to recognize that critical moments of strategic inflection, when transformation becomes an imperative, are being driven by many different causes from technology to risk to financial crisis. Technology change that has created a global marketplace, transparent enterprise and collaborative work styles serves here as a valuable illustration of a broader dynamic. Transformation will not only mean adapting to technology change, it’s going to change the way that we have the conversation about the future, even who gets to participate and how.

If the moral of this story were just “adapt to new technology,” there would be little news here. Instead, the new dynamics of transformation will be shaped both by new forces for change and by the rising democratic impulse among the stakeholders who have recognized that their interests are at risk. Their voices will increasingly be heard in guiding future transformations and they play a central role here.

 NEXT: Timing the Launch


As I came to the end of the process of writing about the course on Leading Transformation that I taught at Georgetown’s McCourt School of Public Policy a friend who has been exceptionally successful in working with small and independent colleges and universities on transformational leadership asked me to tell him about the course.  The conversation led to this introduction and 5 brief sketches.  

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