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Navigating organizational change: a bitesize framework for leaders 

24 November 2023 • by Anand Narasimhan in Leadership

Keep the “change hamburger” in mind as you steer through your transformation journey....

Organizational change is much talked about, frequently attempted, and often fraught with difficulty. Two-thirds of change initiatives that are announced end up in failure. Based on 10 years of research into business transformation, I have come up with a very practical, top-level framework that can help: the “change hamburger”.  

This 3-layered innovative framework serves as a roadmap for leaders to create value and shape the future of their organizations beyond digital transformation in this era of globalization, offering crucial insights into strategic decision-making.  

Layer one: The "Why", or "Catalyst"

Understand the catalyst for transformation, driven by the pursuit of value, which includes enhancing efficiency, cost-cutting, and reinvesting in growth. Reasons for change may stem from performance concerns, stakeholder pressure, or competitive challenges.

Layer two: The 'What', or 'Quests'

Choose the direction of transformation by exploring various quests or strategic choices, such as customer focus, innovation, global presence, nimbleness, and sustainability. Each quest represents a unique pathway to creating organizational value.

Layer three: The ‘How’, or 'Capabilities'

Empower the capabilities or people necessary to pursue the chosen quests. No company, regardless of size, has enough resources to implement all changes. Define which change will create value, articulate how it will do so, and cultivate the required leadership capabilities.

But beware! There are also five common traps to avoid.  

1. The "Open Burger"

(being uncertain about the 'why')

2. The "Empty Burger"

(neglecting the quest)

3. The "Wrong Burger"

(pursuing the wrong quest)

4. The "Overstuffed Burger"

(being uncertain about the 'what')

5. The "Bottomless Burger"

(insufficient leadership development).

“Everybody associates transformation with ‘digital transformation,’ a buzzword nowadays, but you can go back to your basics, to your DNA, look at your customer more, and create something that nobody has thought of,” said Malek Inja, Managing Director of Basamh Group.  

Food for thought, indeed.

This article is inspired by a session at IMD’s Orchestrating Winning Performance in Singapore, which brings together executives from diverse sectors and geographies for a week of intense learning and sharing with IMD faculty and business experts. 


Anand Narasimhan - IMD Professor

Anand Narasimhan

Anand Narasimhan serves as Shell Professor of Global Leadership and Dean of Faculty and Research at IMD. He is also Director of the Team Dynamics Training for Boards program. He is an expert in leadership development for senior executive teams and boards, and his research focuses on institutional change, organization design, social networks, and emotions in the workplace.


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