Four types of transformation

There are four different transformation trends, that I actually think are more or less the same thing, but they are being driven from different angles and usually end up on different budgets.

The four are:

  • Innovation projects such as startup accelerators, internal innovation initiatives, innovation labs, intrapreneurship programs and so forth. Change needed: the current business model(s) are fading, we need to find new ones.
  • Agile transformation programs that usually starts in the IT/R&D department and then spreads to the rest of the organisation when everyone realises that doing big waterfall projects in huge silos is not the way to face the challenges of accelerating change. Change needed: the world is moving faster and we can not make decisions and respond to change fast enough unless the entire company is more agile.
  • Digital transformation which usually involves upgraded infrastructure but also being more data-driven, working with faster feedback loops and changing the way you communicate with customers. Change needed: we need to figure this whole digital thing out because the entire world is moving in that direction.
  • Sustainable / Purpose-driven organisation is when a company realises it actually has humans as customers and employees and that people generally don’t like to buy stuff from or work for companies that only care about profit for shareholders. (Plus, being purpose-driven is actually good business.) Change needed: people should like us and know what we stand for.


In our Lean Forward framework these are all different flavours of the same thing: a move to a bolder, smarter business that does things with heart. We see them as deeply intertwined. (They are also inevitable as the world moves faster and faster and gets eaten by software.)

Do you agree that they are the same? What transformation type would you add to the list?

Erik Starck

Erik is a Lean Forward partner and the CEO of the company.