Organizational Transformation


British Geological Survey

Transforming the organization to spur the wave of innovation


Creating Change

Leading Change

Change System



Organizational Transformation example: British Geological Survey




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Need for Organizational Transformation

When David Falvey joined the British Geological Survey as CEO, he found a hierarchical organization structured around the various disciplines in geology. These divisions operated as competing empires. There was almost no collaboration among them on creative approaches to a customer problem >>>

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To become more innovative, the organization needed transformation.



Creating a New Innovation-friendly Organization

“The key to spurring a wave of innovation was creating a structure and climate that ended the internal competition,” says David Falvey. He stopped the rivalries between divisions not by dismantling the divisions but by eliminating people’s affiliation with them – he created a matrix structure. In this new structure, a program headed by a manager is responsible for a range of projects. But the people working on those projects come from a human resource pool whose allegiance is to the mission of the organization rather than to a specific program.

In addition to eliminating internal competition, the structural change heightened the company’s external competitive focus, which fostered increased innovation. “Because the new program managers no longer “own” staff members, they have to devise projects that are interesting enough to attract people. Furthermore, because staff members don’t have enforced loyalties to particular groups, they feel free to speak up with suggestions that can benefit the entire organization. >>>

Tao-style Transformational Leadership

The organizational transformation was not easy. It was very challenging task for a new CEO, a foreigner coming into a very old organization – one founded in 1835. People resisted the change initially. They hated letting go of their identification with specific divisions.

To win gradually consensus for the change, David Falvey spent two years in discussions with various groups of employees. The change was more orchestrated than directed by him. The members of the organization brought about change for themselves.

“The Leader is best, when people are hardly aware of his existence, ... When his work is done, his aim fulfilled, the people say, 'We did it ourselves.,‘” taught Lao Tzu. This is the Tao of wise leadership.