Some years ago we heard of a French explorer who said “There are two types of explorer. Those who really want an adventure. And those who secretly don’t.”
For people who are being catalytic, these words seem to hold a certain magic about embracing vulnerability, stepping into the truly unknown, preparing as best you can and then going somewhere that requires more than simply preparation.
Looking at events unfolding locally, nationally and internationally, the idea can be applied to people talking about “transformation”; there are some who truly want transformation for their organisations and beyond, and those that secretly don’t. In the latter category we put those who think that more productivity is transformation. That increasing profits is transformation. That last year but a bit better is transformation.
It is our belief that none of these are transformation. Improvement perhaps, but not transformation.
What might be transformative? It’s making an impact in an area others thought hopeless or not worth the bother. It is changing lives and the systems that shape them. It is, to quote that famous source of wisdom Star Trek, ‘to boldly go where no-one has gone before’.
If you are working with anyone who says they want to be transformative, perhaps it’s worth exploring with them if they really wish to be truly transformative. Or if secretly they don’t. It’s worth knowing the difference and being honest about it.
Keep an eye out for our imminent report on transformation and the personal qualities required to lead and sustain transformation. It is a brief summary of the wisdoms that flowed when we convened 30 extraordinary, experienced and diverse leaders in partnership with the RSA.