Think back to when your family bought its first television set.

If you’re a Baby Boomer, you may have had only a handful of channels from which to choose—not to mention the headache of adjusting the antenna, putting aluminum foil on the rabbit ears, and let’s not forget getting out of your chair to change the channel.

Then came cable and satellite television—more viewing choices and goodbye rabbit ears!

Change and transformation: what’s the difference?

Fast forward to present day.

Consumers are ditching cable and satellite for streaming services and other options with a greater range of choice and cost flexibility. Laptops, tablets and mobile devices of all types are supplanting the traditional family TV to display all that content. And, we’re not just watching, we’re frequently “bingeing.”

This illustrates the stark difference between change and transformation.

Broadcast television to cable is a form of change, a relatively modest, incremental step. On the other hand, being able to stream a movie and watch it on your phone while waiting to catch a plane, or while flying in a plane, is transformation—it gave us a completely new way to access news and entertainment.

Knowing the distinction between change and transformation can be essential to your organization’s success and possibly its survival.

Just as important, it’s critical to recognize change and what additional steps may be necessary to move change forward into outright transformation.

Change defined

In the early 1990s, Barnes and Noble superstores changed how we shop for books.

A few years later, Amazon was transforming how we shop for and purchase books, which then transformed how we shop for everything.

Blockbuster changed how we watched movies; Netflix and other streaming services transformed and utterly upended how we watch movies.

Those and other examples like them also illustrate the possible ramifications that exist when comparing change and transformation.

Barnes and Noble has survived, but barely. Blockbuster went under years ago. By contrast, Amazon and Netflix have grown and flourished.

Today, changing something can be costly. By contrast, transformation can completely reinvent entire industries.

Turning change into transformation

This raises a question—how can you take change and make it into the sort of transformation that’s absolutely necessary?

Start by taking a close look at your organization’s products, services and other activities.

Are they different than they used to be? If so, how much? If you can describe them in terms of being bigger, smaller and other sorts of terms, that’s probably just change.

So, consider the next logical question—what can you do to propel a product or service into the realm of transformation?

Look back at the examples of Amazon, Netflix and other companies like them.

They redefined the experience, access, cost, quality and flexibility of purchase and other elements—for the better. That’s transformation.

Using those and other examples can kick-start your thinking about taking a change and ramping it up to transformation.

The greater the difference between what came before and what took its place, the closer you move toward transformation.

Moving from change to transformation can also boil down to a simple question: “How can I offer my customers the ability to do what they would want to do if only they knew it was possible?”

In other words, rather than merely changing or even improving something, what utterly new product or service would people genuinely embrace if they were aware of it and what it could do for them? Rather than looking to change something, why not aim for transformation from the get-go?

Here, my Anticipatory Organization Model can be of vital help.

Using concepts such as Hard Trends—those events we know for certain will take place—and Soft Trends—those that may or may not happen but are open to influence—ask yourself how your field or business can be transformed in the next few years in ways that coordinate with those trends.

That can boost your thinking about utterly new ideas that will impact not only what you manufacture or sell but how you communicate and collaborate with those around you.

When business times get tough, do you take charge? Or take a deep breath?

Find out why the latter might be better. Order The Anticipatory Organization book from now.

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