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So, What's the Difference Between Change Management and Transformation Anyway?

Change Management and Transformation - like Cloud Transformation

Change Management is generally considered to be a multi-disciplinary approach to handle the shifting reality in a workplace. This approach is backed with formal methodologies, models and often by academic and field research as well. The change that needs to be managed may be something that is planned. For instance, consider:

— the shift to an Agile approach to development,

— the decision to move to a new technological platform,

— the move to a new premises, for that matter

Or the change may be unplanned. For instance, consider:

— the sudden departure of a key leader in the company,

— an unpredictable shift in the economy,

— a sudden change in target demographics

The change may affect individuals, teams or entire organisations. It may have a low impact, or a high impact. However, just like the 'Butterfly Effect' in Chaos Theory — wherein the tiny flap of the gentle wings of the butterfly on one side of the world, has a role in affecting tempestuous hurricanes on the other side of the world — no matter how trivial the size or impact is approximated to be, it should never be overlooked or underestimated.

As for Transformation, in terms of job roles and descriptions, this is often used synonymously with Change Management. One finds job titles or descriptions like 'Change Manager', as well as 'Transformation Manager' who are charged with planning and executing organisational change according to defined strategy. But, whereas Change Manager implies that one is looking for someone to work on general organisational development, Transformation often is associated with very specific types of change that have already been identified — like Digital Transformation or Cloud Transformation. So, while the terms may be used synonymously, Change Management usually refers to the professional and academic approach to managing change, and Transformation is more likely to represent the change itself. To put it simply, in order to achieve digital transformation you need to undergo change management.

Of course, when talking about Change Management and Transformation, I never just to refer the professional realm. Change is real in our day-to-day lives, and that also needs to be identified, handled, and never underestimated, or trivialised. Change is so ubiquitous that sometimes we don't even realise that we are in the middle of change, until parts of us, or our lives are transformed. Naturally, it is always easier to know what transformation you would like to achieve, but even when you get there, your journey is never complete. Life is funny in that way.

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