FRAGMENTATION, in a business context , describes organizations undertaking a CHANGE or TRANSFORMATION where focus and will are split and different sections of the organization are on their own separate paths. Some are charging ahead, embracing the vision for the future. Others are staying behind, unwilling to change the status quo. Think hard on this question: Is your organization experiencing fragmentation during change?

FRAGMENTATION during change or transformation can be destructive to an organization if left unchecked. So today I wanted to look at different types of FRAGMENTATION and discuss how to approach each one.

The right kind of pyramid

To illustrate the concept of FRAGMENTATION during change or transformation, we use a pyramid where the top is leadership, the middle is middle management, and the base is made up of the employees under middle management.

Fragmentation Pyramid (Fragmentation during change or transformation)

A successful organization is one that’s Strategy Focused & Aligned. In a pyramid representing this kind of organization, you will see the leader moving out furthest ahead, charging forward toward his or her vision, with middle management and the rest of the staff following closely behind. The result is a pyramid that’s leaning toward the future.

The wrong kinds of pyramids – and how to fix them

Unfortunately, when FRAGMENTATION happens, the pyramid doesn’t look like that. Here are common patterns of FRAGMENTATION I’ve seen over the years and solutions to address the underlying issues.

Visionary Leader & Recalcitrant Organization. The top part of the pyramid is far ahead while the middle and base stay put.

Solution: The leader must communicate his or her vision more persuasively so they can get on board. The rest of the organization shouldn’t be dragged kicking and screaming into the vision, but should be willingly following leadership, inspired by the vision and committed to bringing it to life.

Operations Focused & Fragmented: This time the leader is sticking to the status quo, along with some middle management and other employees. The rest of the middle and base are moving forward.

Solution: Motivation to make a change comes from internalizing the STAKE. The leader must internalize and then communicate that STAKE to the rest of the organization.

Strategy Focused & Fragmented: In this situation, the leader is moving forward, and some of the middle management and their staff are following. However, the rest of the middle and base are lagging behind. (This is what I’ve seen most frequently.)

Solution: Communicating the vision to everyone in the organization is the key here – not just from the leadership level down, but between those in the middle and the base too. Often, protection of the status quo comes from fear of change, and those fears can be addressed and eased.

Strategy Focused & Recalcitrant Middle Management: Here, everyone is moving forward except middle management, who are happy with the status quo.

Solution: Leaders coming into this situation should first seek to understand the perspective of middle management. Why are they satisfied with the status quo? Why are they disconnected from leadership? Decrees and declarations are not effective or long-lasting tactics; listening and understanding different perspectives are.

COHESION to the rescue

What’s lacking in organizations suffering from FRAGMENTATION is COHESION and a shared vision. COHESION occurs when everyone agrees with what’s at stake, where they are, where they’re going, and how to get there. Read my thoughts about the importance of COHESION and how leaders can share their vision so it inspires action.


Be sure your company culture is collectively working towards the same Transformation. Take my peak performance culture assessment, get your culture IQ and learn more about the foundation and pillars necessary for generating your own Peak Performance Culture.