on June 1, 2023 in Digital Transformation

The new C-Role for Transformation Management


What is a Chief Transformation Officer?

Organizations are going through a seismic shift.  Never have executives been challenged as they are in today’s ever-changing landscape.  Taking your eye off the ball for a split second can mean irrelevance and insolvency.  Companies of all sizes are being forced to merge, get bought out and even forced to close their doors.  Think Sears, Bed Bath and Beyond, Party City and the list goes on.

To meet these challenges organizations have created the “Transformation Office”.  The mandate of this office is in its name.  “Transform” the company to be more lean, agile, and competitive by taking advantage of new technologies, processes and upleveling skills.  This office comes with a question everything and no stone left unturned approach.

The Transformation Office has a huge mandate and carries a big stick to get things done with meaningful results.  They are well funded and their outcomes are reported to the board and shareholders.  So, who should run this office?  The CFO? The COO or someone with a unique set of skills that can lead meaningful change.  Afterall change in itself is very unpopular.  People like status quo and predictability—it makes them feel safe.

As a result, the Chief Transformation Officer (CTO) role was created.  There are many flavors of the title such as Global Transformation Officer, Head of Transformation and the like.  Whatever you call them they all have the same mandate—to deliver meaningful change and keep the company competitive.  So, who are these people and what “unique” skills do they bring to the table.  Our team did some research using LinkedIn data, corporate listings, job posts and other relevant sources to help understand who is filling the Chief Transformation role.  Below are the top skills and qualifications of today’s leading Chief Transformation Officer.

Top Skills and Qualifications:

Business Acumen: The CTO must understand the business, have excellent business acumen and know how all the various functions support each other.  They must also have the desire to learn.

Change Agent: Leading change and disrupting legacy processes and status quo is a must have skill set.  Must be comfortable questioning the veterans in the company that are certain their way must be the best way—after all it’s been working for years.  The CTO must confront this head on.

Strategic Approach: The CTO have to play the long game.  They have to make bets that may not pay off immediately but will strategically position the company for long-term success.  Having a strategic mindset is a must.

People Skills: Navigating change requires a deep understanding of how change impacts people and their behavior.  Accounting for this in the onset can make the difference between success and failure.  Also, negotiating change can be difficult and requires a skilled diplomat to gain trust and get the toughest critics on board.

Leadership:  Leaders know their audience, they are decisive, and have a unique ability to convince others to follow.  Transformation does not take place in a bubble.  It requires an army of people to help drive change.  The leader will bring all the stakeholders together to ensure they are on the same page, set the strategy and motivate the team to execute against it.

Communication:  Excellent communication skills is not a nice to have.  It is a mandatory requirement for the Chief Transformation Officer.  Often, they are communicating to the board, the CEO, the extended leadership team, staff, line managers, etc.  Getting the message dialed in at every level is crucial.

Results Driven: Change for change’s sake have no business in the Transformation Office.  The CTO must be focused on results and setup KPI’s and scorecards to help measure and track results

In summary, no matter what you call the Chief Transformation Officer it is evident that they are playing a very important role in leading companies and they are here to stay.  It has become an important and effective tool for companies to stay competitive and not only survive but strive.  The skills and qualifications required includes having a strong business acumen, be a change agent, take a strategic approach, have strong people and leadership skills and be able to communicate effectively to all stakeholders are all necessary to lead a successful Transformation Office.



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