Three Superpowers of Transformation

Saul Kaplan
4 min readApr 14, 2021

We live in a world screaming for transformation and the best we seem capable of is tweaks. We’re surrounded by leaders and decision makers who share a deeply rooted obsession with scale. An obsession enabled by business models and social norms as straight jackets to keep us in our assigned place aboard the bigger is better bandwagon. Far too often we deflect attention away from the growing number of people harmed and left behind by the one-size-fits-all models, the flywheels of our most important social systems including healthcare, education and the public services we rely on. Tweaks aren’t enough, too many people are suffering, we need social system-changing transformation.

Complex Adaptive Systems

“No man ever steps in the same river twice, for it’s not the same river and he’s not the same man” Heraclitus 544 B.C.

Systems challenges require systems solutions. But because our heads explode at the thought of transforming an entire dynamic system we develop point solutions in the hope that our magic bullet (new law, technology, product, service etc.) is the right lever to nudge systems to their transformational tipping point. It rarely works. There’s just no controlling for all the independent variables in a complex adaptive system. This explains why ‘evidence-based’ point solutions almost always disappoint when the goal is systems change. You can’t analyze your way to transformation, it’s a generative act. We have to design for its emergence.

“Transformers are business model escape artists.”

Historically transformers are a rare breed, isolated as icons and embodying personas unattainable to us mere mortals. But digital changes everything. Digital flips the script. Turns out we’re all capable of being transformers. But we’re going to have to learn a few new tricks along the way. We need new skills, starting with the three superpowers of transformation; human-centered design, rapid prototyping, and storytelling/engagement.

Three Superpowers of Transformation

Human-Centered Design

The first and most important step in any transformation process is to see the opportunity horizon through the lens of the customer. If we see opportunities through the enterprise lens of today’s business models…

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Saul Kaplan

Hopeful Innovation Junkie, Business Innovation Factory (BIF) Founder & Chief Catalyst, LunaYou Founder and CEO