Transformation: why, what, and how?

With our world becoming more complex and our issues becoming more urgent, people are increasingly talking about the need for transformation.

“Business as usual” seems to have had its best time, and instrumental-technological solutions fall short for addressing the cluster of interconnected (environmental, socio-ec0nomic, cultural, et cetera) issues that face humanity. More and more voices argue society will have to be organized in fundamentally different ways, calling for a ‘whole systems change’ or a complete ‘transformation’.

The idea is that small, superficial changes will not get us out of this mess. Indeed, the Cambridge dictionary describes change as “to exchange one thing for another thing, especially of a similar type.”

Transformation, on the other hand, is defined as “a complete change in the appearance or character of something or someone, especially so that that thing or person is improved.” Transformation thus not only refers to deep and fundamental change, but also holds the promise of improvement.

So transformation offers a compelling possibility. However, how do we foster it in practice?

In a recent book chapter I describe what three exciting, relatively new scientific fields teach us about transformation – namely complexity science, sustainability science, and positive psychology.

In a nutshell, I learned that:

  • Interventions need to touch the heart, the core of any system, in order for change to be transformative

  • Transformation comes through experiment, creative collaboration, and self-organization, rather than through planning and control. It’s a shift from the paradigm of prediction to the paradigm of emergence.

  • Interventions or projects become transformative when humans are supported to ‘thrive’, through following and satisfying their intrinsic motivations.

Your organization can learn more, be inspired, and be challenged to apply these principles or teachings to your own contexts in a Transformation Workshop.

There are also other ways to foster transformation, including Interactive talks, Social Labs, as well as any event, meeting, conference or get together that is organized according to the principles and wisdom of the Art of Hosting Conversations That Matter.

I find it a great joy and honor to work with groups excited to pursue deep change!

While using different methods, from Art of Hosting to Social Labs, I generally work according to the following core principles:

  • The purpose of the meeting functions as our compass, guiding us to ‘stay on track’

  • Eliminating what is not serving our purpose ensures ample time for engaging in what’s essential

  • Clear structures support people to work towards a shared purpose (instead of individual agenda’s)

  • Creating a safe space through small group exchanges encourages authenticity and connection

  • Methods for digestion and reflection engage people in their agency and intelligence (instead of overloading them with information and treating them as passive consumers)

  • Working with the group’s energy and mood creates an uplifted space in which ‘the new’ can emerge

  • Gently challenging ‘comfort zones’ inspires collective courage, motivation, and innovation

Here you can find some testimonials by people who’ve worked with me.

Create a transformational event!