What is Transformation? 4 Purposes of Government ‘Transformation’ departments (theatre, advisory, incremental, metamorphosis). Examples: Australia, Malaysia

What is Transformation? 4 Purposes of Government ‘Transformation’ departments (theatre, advisory, incremental, metamorphosis). Examples: Australia, Malaysia

Governments are establishing “Transformation” departments. These departments are usually tasked with the specific task of “transformation” is a term without a clear meaning in the context of a country. We’ll explore the definition of “transformation”, identify 4 potential roles of Transformation Departments and explore 2 examples (Australia and Malaysia).

Transformation Departments

There are many different transformation contexts in various contexts. There is no clear obvious meaning when a government uses the word transformation. Some government’s make a generic reference to transformation without explaining reason, process or desired outcome. Some government’s are more specific. The Malaysian government’s “1 Malaysia” economic development policy specifically refers to “Government Transformation” and “Economic Transformation” which provides a specific plan for the economy, government and sectors.

Definition - Transformation

The dictionary defines Transformation as:

  • 1. the act or process of transforming.
  • 2. the state of being transformed.
  • 3. change in form, appearance, nature, or character.
  • 4. Theater. a seemingly miraculous change in the appearance of scenery or actors in view of the audience.
  • 5. Logic. Also called transform. one of a set of algebraic formulas used to express the relations between elements, sets, etc., that form parts of a given system.
  • 6. [Mathematics]
  • 7. [Linguistics]

Definition - Transform

The dictionary defines Transform as:

  • 1. to change in form, appearance, or structure; metamorphose.
  • 2. to change in condition, nature, or character; convert.
  • 3. to change into another substance; transmute.
  • 4. [ Electricity]
  • 5. [Mathematics]
  • 6. [Physics]
  • 7. to undergo a change in form, appearance, or character; become transformed.
  • 8. [Mathematics.]
  • 9.the result of a transformation.
  • 10. a transformation.
  • 11. [Logic]
  • 12. Linguistics. a structure derived by a transformation.

“Transformation” - the specific meaning at Wisdom Networks

Our use of the word transformation is specific - process, reason and desired outcome are specified. We outline that our economy is metamorphosing from an Industrial Economy to a Network Society. The reasons for the Shift is that centralisation and its resulting Industrial Economy is obsolete and the Industrial Economy is no longer efficient, effective or wealth creating. Stagnation has emerged, real incomes are declining and the world has been reduced to wealth transfers. The Network Society offers a superior means for society to organise and achieve economic and social outcomes. It restores productivity, growth and prosperity and is superior in every respect to a Network Society. We clearly define the metamorphosis and the reasons for it.

Potential types of Government Transformation Office

The role of each Transformation Department could be characterised as follows:

  • Theatre: these departments are transformation in name only. They do not provide clear guidance of either process or outcomes. They provide (like the definition) “a seemingly miraculous change in the appearance of scenery or actors in view of the audience”.
  • advisory: these departments provide some guidance as to process and outcomes within economy and society.
  • Incremental: These departments provide services (like applications development), advisory or policy formation for government and/or specific government departments. The focus is enhancements to the existing “Industrial Economy” without metamorphosis
  • Metamorphosis: these departments are responsible for transformation. There is an intention and plan to leave behind the status quo and change the form, appearance, character, structure of the status quo to something else. There is a specific process and outcome.


Commitment can only be demonstrated by each country in unity around a common goal, funding, a specific plan, action, performance review and empowerment by statute. Malaysia provides a leading example of this.

Australia’s Digital Transformation Office

Australia recently established a Digital Transformation Office (DTO). The CEO has specifically stated that the DTO is not responsible for procurement and spending can only be made by other government departments. At this stage, there is no specific process, plan or objectives. This could be considered advisory only. It has a 91m budget and will provide services to other government departments. If it does not provide services to other departments, then it could be considered ‘theatre’.

Example - '1 Malaysia'

Malaysia provides an example of a country that has chosen “committed metamorphosis” in intent and backed it with statute, a “turnaround” private sector CEO, a dedicated department empowered by statute and significant funding. There is a large national campaign directed toward national unity and transformation. All over Malaysia, the “1 Malaysia” logo is prominent and so are specific references to it’s two themes of “Economic Transformation” and “Economic Transformation”.

Malaysia is a quality example of what’s possible. Although it may not go far enough to meet the definition of “transformation”. 1 Malaysia could be incremental to an Industrial Economy, rather than a metamorphis. It still represents a leading example of proactive efforts by a government to transform with the primary objective being raising the real income of their citizens.

Malaysia - Economic Transformation Programme

Wikipedia extract (Economic Transformation Programme)

  • The Economic Transformation Program is an initiative by the Malaysian government to turn Malaysia into a high income economy by the year of 2020. It is managed by the Performance Management and Delivery Unit (PEMANDU), an agency under the Prime Minister Department of Malaysia.
  • Launched on September 25, 2010,[1] it is a comprehensive economic transformation plan to propel Malaysia's economy into high income economy. The program will lift Malaysia's gross national income (GNI) to US$523 billion by 2020, and raise per capita income from US$6,700 to at least US$15,000, meeting the World Bank's threshold for high income nation.[2] It is projected that Malaysia will be able to achieve the targets set if GNI grows by 6% per annum.
  • Set to revitalize Malaysia's private sector, the 60% of the blueprint's investment would derived from private sector, 32% from government linked companies and the remaining 8% from the government.[2] Various sectors for development have been identified and are called National Key Economic Areas (NKEA).

Malaysia - Government Transformation Programme

Wikipedia extract (Government Transformation Programme Malaysia)

  • The Government Transformation Programme (GTP) is an effort by Malaysia's current Government to address seven key areas concerning the people of the country. The programme was unveiled on 28 January 2010 by the Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak. and is expected to contribute in making the country a developed and high-income nation as per its Vision 2020.
  • The Programme was created to support the Prime Minister Dato' Sri Mohd Najib Bin Tun Haji Abdul Razak's motto of People First, Performance Now[2] and will be implemented until 2012 as a foundation for the transformation of Malaysia.
  • 6 initial National Key Results Areas (NKRAs) which were derived from surveys with the nation's citizens and following months of evaluating the people's demands of the Government and the most pressing issues were selected to develop the NKRAs. In July 2011, a 7th NKRA was announced to address another pressing issue of inflation and rising daily cost of the people. A focused list of projects and initiatives for each NKRA was developed to ensure that big fast results for specific targets are achieved.
  • The NKRAs are the responsibility of relevant Ministries and the Performance Delivery and Management Unit (PEMANDU) was initiated to monitor the achievements of each Ministry. The NKRAs and its detailed targets were made public with the publishing of the GTP Roadmap

Pemandu - Malaysia's Performance Management & Delivery Unit

Extract (PEMANDU website)

  • Performance Management & Delivery Unit (PEMANDU) was formally established on the 16th of September, 2009 and is a unit under the Prime Minister's Department. PEMANDU's main role and objective is to oversee the implementation, assess the progress, facilitate as well as support the delivery and drive the progress of the Government Transformation Programme (GTP) and the Economic Transformation Programme (ETP).
  • While the responsibility for end-to-end delivery of National Key Results Areas (NKRAs) and Ministerial Key Results Areas (MKRAs) outcomes ultimately rests with the respective ministries, and the success of the National Key Economic Areas (NKEAs) rests with the private sector, PEMANDU has been mandated to catalyse bold changes in public and private sector delivery, support the ministries in the delivery planning process and provide an independent view of performance and progress to the PM and ministers.
  • In relation to the ETP, PEMANDU has been tasked with facilitating the implementation of the Entry Point Projects (EPPs) and Business Opportunities (BOs) that have been identified to ensure that Malaysia is transformed into a high-income nation by 2020. To allow PEMANDU to carry out its responsibilities effectively, it combines the best talent from both the civil service and private sector.

Pemandu 8 step process

Extract (PEMANDU website)

  • PEMANDU’s role is to catalyse the transformation of Malaysia’s economy and government, working with the Malaysian Government to improve public service delivery outcomes and setting precedents for future economic efficiencies.
  • In working towards this aim, it has set “True North” goals of targeted GNI, Jobs and Investment growth, to serve as the guides that keep the entire transformation process on track, using measurable Key Performance Indicators, validated by PricewaterhouseCoopers (Malaysia).
  • PEMANDU is a catalyst that leads the impetus of the Economic Transformation Programme (ETP) and Government Transformation Programme (GTP), working alongside the civil service to assist in delivery transformation. It operates by setting fresh examples in specific cases of assistance; streamlining and improving older, outdated existing processes for more relevance to current economic conditions.

Transformation Scorecard

In accordance with the 8 Step process, PEMANDU measure the performance of key participants and processes of Transformation. All objectives and resulting performance in publicly available.

Extract (PEMANDU website)

  • The ETP Scorecard assesses the extent to which the planned Key Performance Indicator (KPIs) for each Entry Point Project achieved the desired outcome for the past year. The actual year-to-date results are presented in three scoring methodologies.
  • All three methods have been formulated to provide a pragmatic representation of the actual KPI numbers in percentages.

Malaysia's Transformation Transparency surprised a Singapore Minister

Article extract ('Singapore surprised at Malaysia’s transparency, Idris Jala says' by Boo Su-Lyn, MalayMail Online, 21 October 2015):

  • A senior Singaporean minister expressed surprise at the level of Putrajaya’s transparency over the results of its transformation programmes, Pemandu CEO Datuk Seri Idris Jala said today.
  • The head of the government agency in charge of Malaysia’s Economic Transformation Programme (ETP) and Government Transformation Programme (GTP) also pointed out that most Malaysians have not read about the government’s roadmap for transformation that was readily available on Pemandu’s website, though many of them criticise the government and accuse Putrajaya of not having a plan.
  • “I was talking to a very senior minister in Singapore. He said, ‘Wah Idris, you put this out in the public domain, yes?’,” Jala told the Global Transformation Forum here in his session titled “Big Fast Results”, without naming the minister. “‘Annual report on what you didn’t achieve, you put in public domain. Wah, that level of transparency’. He said, ‘You know Idris, there’s a fine balance between transparency, nudity and pornography’. “But to me, it’s very important that we’re transparent. It makes us accountable. It forces us to deliver,” he added.
  • He also said the scores for various ministers on how they performed based on their key performance indicators (KPIs) in the transformation programmes were published.
  • Jala expressed confidence that Malaysia would be able to achieve high-income status by 2020, noting that the gap towards reaching that goal has been closing over the past five years.
  • “Before ETP, the rate of growth of private sector investment was 5.5 per cent. It has meteorically risen past the ETP, grown 2.5 times. The annual growth is 13.6 per cent over past five years,” he said.

Malaysian Wisdom

The Malaysian Wisdom page may be reviewed here.

Australian Wisdom

The Australian Wisdom page may be reviewed here.