Transformation is fun

2017-12-13, 13:19 Posted by: Katarina Cornelius

Part 3 of 3

In order to succeed with a transformation we need help to adopt completely new perspectives.

In the Kodak example, it needed help to understand the potential significance of the digital camera and, later, the mobile phone camera. It could also have used something of a shakeup of its own role in events. Finally – and probably also – a better understanding of what the new world had to offer in terms of new rules of play.

Companies also need the courage to dare to start working, testing, exploring and experimenting. To let the exploration determine the direction of travel, rather than to have everything decided from the start. Exploration allows us to start shifting our conceptions of the world – to change how we see the world, to adopt new values, new behaviours and a new way of acting, which in turn makes it easier to let go of the old, or at least to do both the old and the new at the same time.

A number of companies are currently working on initiatives aimed at transforming rather than changing their business. Unilever talks about having a bifocal lens, focusing on the existing business and on a dramatically different business at the same time. E.ON has established its own independent organisation that is not rooted in the old but is free to explore completely new ventures and business models. A third company has a special unit that reports directly to the CEO, tasked with identifying models that undermine its existing business and model.

One of Katarina's clients talks about his journey of transformation.

A paradigm shift often requires a dual focus to remain successful – a focus on the existing business, provided it is profitable, and a parallel exploration of the more radically different and the new.

We also need to understand that we cannot look in the rear-view mirror (at the industrial world, the one I refer to as the World 3.0) to get advice on how to act going forward, because the future has completely new circumstances and rules of play.

In order to better navigate in this paradigm shift it is also important to understand some of the conditions necessary for transformation to take place:

  • Management needs to be wholeheartedly behind the initiative. The new will not be as profitable from the outset as our core business (think about the Law of Diffusion of Innovation curve) – insight, patience and perseverance are essential.
  • In order for businesses and organisations to transform, the people working in the organisation must be given the right conditions for thinking and acting differently and most importantly understand - and integrate - WHY the change is necessary – not to mention the importance of understanding the direction of where we are heading
  • We all need to understand that transformation is a personal phenomenon that happens within us as humans, as leaders and as employees – not within “organisations” or “businesses”. Organisations or businesses change because we as people change – and because our behaviour changes.
  • As guides of transformation, we can only create the right conditions and prerequisites, but cannot actively force, order or instruct anyone to transform. Hence, we must apply the same rules as when it comes to increasing the organisations employee engagement levels and that is, among others, to involve people also emotionally
  • The most fertile conditions are created from a space of passion, play, purpose and confidence in the future rather than in an environment of fear or threats.

Such profound changes can of course seem painful, depending on the degree and the approach, but they do not have to be. Over time we have changed our entire way of living, prioritising, shopping, working out and doing banking using our smartphones, and I do not think that anyone who has transformed has felt it to be painful. But being forced to abandon what we have believed about the world and, ultimately, about ourselves is more often than not - a journey that requires an experienced supervisor or guide along the way who facilitates the process and who can even make it enjoyable, adventurous and – who knows – even fun.

Finally, we need trust. We need to both trust in the transformation process, the journey, in itself AND believe that the shift into the new and exciting world IS possible.

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 her 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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