To die a little

2017-12-06, 16:02 Posted by: Katarina Cornelius

Part 2 of 3

The trans in transformation stems from the Latin transire, which means to go across or pass away. This may sound dramatic, but having to realise that the knowledge and experience you possess is no longer as valuable can be painful. It affects our innermost core, our own perception of ourselves, our own identity. That’s why I usually say, “everyone wants change, but nobody wants to change”.

The second part of the word, formation, also comes from Latin and means to shape or to create. Creating something new is usually easy for people but, like the eternal cycle of nature, the old needs to die in order for the new to be born, even when it comes to transformation.

Transformation is closely related to the word change. The difference between them is the magnitude of the particular change, with transformation being a greater and more disruptive type of change.

Changing something and transforming something also demand different methodologies, different processes and different approaches.

When we change something, we start from what already exists, while when we transform something we first need to destroy – or at least deconstruct - what already exists before starting from scratch and creating something new.

I would claim that we are usually very good at gradually and incrementally improving on something that already exists, while we as humans are quite bad at transformation. Studies have also shown that only 30% of major corporate transformation initiatives succeed because of a lack of understanding of the difference between change and transformation (and honestly, not even change processes have a higher success rate).

Perhaps the world’s most famous example of a successful company that failed with its transformation is Kodak. Kodak, which invented the digital camera in 1975, is an example of a company that did not have the courage to transform its business. When it realised that the new technology had the potential to undermine its very profitable business, and therefore how it defined itself as a company, it chose to put its head in the sand and carry on us usual. And here’s the thing:

Kodak's perception of itself (its self-image) and its misconception about how the world would change (its world view) would prove to be devastating.

After 133 years in business Kodak applied for bankruptcy in 2012.

So what can we do and how should we think when it comes to transformation?

Transformation demands a change in self-image and world view.

This is a series of three articles written by Katarina Cornelius. Katarina has recently published her book “Byt Värld – 46 tillväxtnycklar till nätverksvärldens affärslogik”, bringing together her experiences from working with the management of a number of the world’s biggest brands and realising their journey into the new paradigm. Katarina has extensive experience of how transformation can be brought about in a way that creates fun rather than fear.

If you would like to hear Katarina talk more about her own journey of transformation, her perspective on digital transformation, the paradigm shift, or the new World 5.0 – contact Katarina at

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About this blog

Most of us have accepted that we are in the middle of a paradigm shift; a shift in which digitalisation is changing the concepts of how we communicate, collaborate and do business. There is an increasing understanding that we all need to do something to remain relevant, but are terms such as digital, digitalisation and digital transformation sufficient to describe what is happening right now and to guide us in the right direction?

In this blog I would like to provide a much broader perspective on what lies behind this paradigm shift, in which digital technology is becoming a tool. I will offer suggestions for how we can think, do and act differently in order to grow into – and grow within – the new paradigm.

I will also periodically explore various ideas about the future from a human-centric perspective, in which technology leads to changes in human behaviour, and how this will – in the near future – bring even greater transformation to our business than we have seen so far. 

The content is partly based on the book Byt Värld, published in December 2016.

Katarina Cornelius

Business Unit Manager Head of Business advisory services and speaker

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