The “T” Word

I was recently caught in the cross-hairs of a debate and word-smithing over what does and does not qualify as a “Transformation”.

It felt like we were dictating how people should perceive the value of their efforts and outcomes.

When that happens, one person’s audacious transformation can be reframed as another person’s routine business-as-usual.

I believe part of the problem is that the word has become so overloaded in the lexicon of business that it has been rendered meaningless.

  • Need budget above and beyond your operating budget to get something done? Call it a Transformation opportunity.
  • Want to impress a colleague? Tell them you’re working on a Transformation program.
  • Want to raise the cachet of a routine process improvement? Refer to it as transformational.

What if instead of standing behind a meaningless word, we replace it with meaningful, and more readily actionable words?

As an example, what if we were to replace the word Transformation with Transparency?

How might that change our understanding of the intent behind the word? I could think of several ways.

  • From a generic change imperative to a specific change target
  • From a typically very large scale multi-pronged initiative to a single, laser-focused first step
  • From governed top down to self-governing

And, one final way:

  • Transparency is a whole lot easier to explain to our grandmothers than Transformation!

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