Understanding journeys of transformation : exploring new paradigms in strategic change and enterprise transformation
This thesis seeks to study the phenomenon of transformational journeys in major organisations, defined as a process of radical change delivering dramatic and sustained improvement in market competitive performance within an aggressive timescale. This is characterised by strategic repositioning, alongside shifts in both strategic and organisational architecture, and is observable as periodic in the life of an organisation. A research framework for observation and explanation is taken from theories and research in strategic change, strategic intent and competitive advantage, strategic and organisational architecture, management process in transformation and typologies of transformational journeys. The primary research question, “how do top managers in different organisations lead and manage transformational change?” was addressed with an overall qualitative dual approach: firstly a pilot cross-company study with executives from 23 organisations to develop a high level typology and compare and contrast aspects of process; secondly longitudinally to examine in detail the complex interrelationships and aspects of emergent process. The prime empirical work was a main case study of Thames Water Utilities on a 7 year journey. Limited or secondary data was used from around 7 other longitudinal cases. The thesis conclusions make a number of specific propositions: around effective use of the descriptive framework and metaphor of a journey; on dependencies between aspects of context, content and process of change in transformation; on typologies of different journey management styles; on perceived conditions for success; and on practical applicability. Specifically, the adoption of “navigational leadership” capability, defined by a number of dimensions and characteristics, is explored as a new and emergent style appropriate in future business circumstances of increasing change and uncertainty. The research also concludes that such styles can be learnt and adopted by top teams.