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Chief Transformation Officer – the missing seat on the exec team… and why we all need glasses! – Gary Burke

In this article originally posted on LinkedIn, Gary Burke – expert in Business and Digital transformation, explains the crucial role a Chief Transformation Officer plays in the success of any business transformation programme.


Companies often ‘do change’ very badly – and transformational change particularly so, often with expensive consequences both financially and reputationally.

No one sets out to fail so how can this realistically be addressed?

Did you know that we all wear glasses? Well, figuratively at least.

When we look at any situation we do so through our personal lens, our individually-tinted specs. The tint on our lens is a mix of experience, training, how we’re wired and other factors – the point being that how/what I see and understand is not the same as you.

There will be commonality but there will inevitably be things that we see differently i.e risks, the right approach, opportunities, challenges etc as our lenses are different.

Careers are often forged in ‘function verticals’ eg finance, IT, HR etc. and lenses are tinted accordingly. So when asked about something outside of our experience, we will inevitably look at it through that lens – it’s not a question of good/bad/right/wrong, it’s just how it is.

With business and digital transformation, strategy, approach, direction and key decisions will be set by the exec team which is likely to be comprised of a CFO who has come via the finance function, a CIO (technology), COO (operations), CPO (People) etc, with a CEO who would is likely to have previously performed one of these roles.

There is little horizontal perspective, experience that cuts across those verticals. 

A Chief Transformation Officer would have a comprehensive understanding of the challenges and complexities that come with transformational change, how all the different components (org. design, culture, people, data, process, technology etc) interact with each other, and the impact that the change has on an organisation’s business and operating models.

To give any transformation programme a half decent chance of success it’s important to recognise this and know when to bring in additional experience.

And with this horizontal, more holistic perspective there will be enhanced understanding and consequently greater confidence in making informed decisions that will give any transformation programme a much greater chance of success. However, without a Chief Transformation Officer providing that ‘transformation lens’ the risks of taking the wrong approach (and consequently failing to deliver benefits) increase significantly.

Oh, and if you’re wondering about the cat, I’m just curious whether a cute but wholly unrelated image would make a difference to the number of views and comments this post got!!


To find out more about Gary’s work, visit his company’s website Rabbits From Hats.

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