Imagine an organisation where everyone is united behind a bold purpose, and feels empowered and supported. Where leaders are inspiring and authentic, and human potential explodes with possibility. Where the organisation is as resilient, creative, and energetic as its people.

These organisations do exist today. They are radically human.

They make big, bold decisions to relentlessly pursue purpose–like Philips did, when it divested its legacy lighting business to focus on healthcare technology, [1] or Ørsted in its decision to shift from coal, oil, and gas to become the world’s biggest offshore wind farm company. [2] And they put people–customers and employees–at the heart of every aspect of the organisation from leadership and culture to structures and processes. Think of Haier, replacing bureaucracy with a model that taps into individual creativity and entrepreneurialism–effectively becoming a network of 4,000 micro-enterprises. [3]

At their best, organisations bring people together to overcome all obstacles in pursuit of a shared goal. The collective response to COVID-19 showed what could be achieved if people are united by a common purpose, and are inspired to show up with ingenuity and determination to make a difference.

Now, more than ever, we need to consciously create organisations that can tap into this power of human potential. Systems and processes cannot solve complex challenges such as climate risks, or adapt to fast-evolving customer demands and technology disruptions. But people can–if they are part of an organisation that gives them a voice. Gives them the right conditions and processes to do their best work. And then gets out of their way.

That’s why we believe it’s time to adopt a radically human approach to transformation. Radical, in the way we make decisions and enable extraordinary acts. Human, in unleashing our collective intelligence and creativity to not only make genuine change happen, but be the change.

Korn Ferry Institute’s recent study of transformational companies identified a set of hyper-successful companies bucking industry trends by doing things differently, and seeing exponential growth as a result. [4] The number one driver of their success? A clear purpose, or a relentless and public accountability to a triple bottom line of people, planet, and prosperity.

Drawing on this research and discussions with clients around the world, we have identified a different approach to transformation. One that inspires a movement, and builds the capability to continuously transform from within. Where people no longer have change done to them, but are inspired to challenge the ways things have always been done, and join the quest for change.

We’ve already seen what humans are capable of collectively during 2020. Imagine what we could do if we are empowered by a radically human sense of purpose, a positive culture and empathetic leaders. Innovation will become instinctive. And every human will be inspired to make their own extraordinary contribution.

What is a radically human transformation? Watch our video:


Report’s authors

AJ van den Berg Senior Client Partner

Jaime Maxwell-Grant Senior Client Partner

Lisa Finkelstein Senior Client Partner

Camelia Ram Senior Principal

[1] The Transformation 20 , Innosight Strategic Change Rankings 2019

[2] The Transformation 20 , Innosight Strategic Change Rankings 2019

[3] Why Haier Is Reorganising Itself around the Internet of Things , Zhang Ruimin, February 2018

[4] Activating Transformation research, Korn Ferry Institute: global longitudinal study conducted 2018-2020 analysing data from a sample of 1,010 publicly traded companies identified as ‘transformational’ based on strict criteria, and 245 outperformers with the largest pivotal EBITDA growth rates in a five-year period. Research authors and contributors: AJ van den Berg, Jaime Maxwell-Grant, Alida Al-Saadi, Lisa Finkelstein, Camelia Ram, Jean-Marc Laouchez, Maggie Patrick, Evelyn Orr, Rachel Caruso-Novack, Khoi Tu, Jill Wiltfong, Laura Manson-Smith, Malte Weyhe and Jennie Wright.

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