Transformational change is not for the faint hearted - it's a huge process of big business change that impacts on every part of an organisation. Successful transformational change needs leaders who can lead change and know who to involve. They need to be able to build change-lead capability and clearly define the transformational change required from day one.

Dianne Saker, Organisation Change Management and Training Lead for Inland Revenue's Business Transformation Programme, knows change. Dianne has been involved in managing big international, business transformation projects in the public and private sectors for 25 years.

At a recent LDC member clinic, Dianne presented on how to lead and manage transformational change. Following are some of the highlights.

Ensuring transformational change success

To ensure successful transformational change, you need to:

  • have clear definition from day one - for all stakeholders, but especially the change-leaders, because getting it wrong at the beginning will create a domino effect, and the transformational change will break down
  • use transformational change methods and models not, which will ensure that change management has a rightful and earned 'place at the table' early and ongoing. Use different methods and models to those you may use for incremental change. Transformational change and incremental change are different.
  • know that change management is a profession in its own right - employ change management practitioners who have the experience, methods and leadership presence to help navigate transformational change
  • have leadership at the centre, with the science and method surrounding the process.

What is transformational change?

While constant change in today's organisations is the 'new normal', transformational change is different from incremental change, in many and big ways.


  • has wide and deep impacts (internal and external - pervasive)
  • has a high 'disrupt' profile
  • is multi-year, multi-staged
  • focuses on re-platforming technology, business processes and ways of working
  • has critical drivers for change - business can't survive/sustain
  • is business-led only
  • means the future-state organisation and workforce will be 'different'
  • future state new organisation design
  • is 'once in a generation'.


  • has narrow impacts (internal and external)
  • the risk profile is contained
  • follows a prescriptive/standard process
  • is short term
  • involves software replacement and continuous improvement
  • is business led or technology led
  • has non-critical drivers - business can survive or sustain without change
  • focuses on departmental restructure.
  • Is frequent and sometimes 'normal'.


Organisational change diagram

True transformation programmes cover all or most aspects of organisational change, which includes:

  • implementing process improvement methodology
  • implementing continuous improvement initiatives
  • automating processes and activities
  • enterprise-wide organisational restructuring
  • outsourcing/offshoring
  • changing core IT systems
  • operations-only organisational restructuring
  • shifting from a processing-focused model to a service-focused model
  • merging with another firm or business unit
  • shifting from product or function based
  • disaggregating from another business unit.

(Taken from CEB 2011 Managing Change within Operations Survey)

Foundations for leading large-scale change

Underpinning successful transformational change is an 'industrial strength' change management architecture, which details the science and method behind the change. It includes four layers and 16 'bricks' - a dynamic set of forces in a change management eco-system.

The architecture sets the stage and debate for levels of investment required to successfully manage change. Dianne pointed out that if you -cut a corner in one, the risk profile across all will go up-.

Enterprise Change

Culture and leadership / Employment relations / Target organisation design /Target workforce design

Strategic Change

Organisation impact (scale and magnitude) / Change challenges/risk profiling / Communications and stakeholder / Srategic customer change 

Managing Change

Business (our people), integration and readiness / Customer readiness / Third parties/intermediaries / Central and cross-agency readiness

Enabling Change

Training and model office / Project delivery change / Job analysis and transition / User adoption and embedding

(For any reuse of the architecture model, please attribute to Inland Revenue Business Transformation Programme.)