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Essential skills for transformation: The role of the Transformation Office

In Deloitte’s summer 2023 CEO survey, 47% of CEOs surveyed stated they are looking to align their workforce skills and training in light of rapid technological changes. And we are seeing this on the ground, not only are our clients looking to increase their transformation activities, but many are setting up and deploying ‘Transformation Offices’ to drive digital transformation, process/operating model restructuring and the continued evolution of the workplace and ways of working.

We first spoke about this in 2022, in a blog post: Where could the Transformation Office go next? And here we build on this important topic, outlining the types of roles and skills that are required for effective transformation, and especially for the transformation office. We view the roles and skillsets as ‘four faces’: Catalyst; Strategist; Steward; and Operator. But what capabilities are included in these four areas?

Organisations continue to focus on the steward and operator roles, but it is critical that catalyst and strategist roles are also developed to drive change efficiently and effectively. Let’s examine each of the four roles and the important skills and capabilities they bring.

The catalyst

The catalyst role should link strategic change across different functions and sectors; stimulate behavioural change across the organisation; and identify steps needed to drive transformation. The role then supports in bringing together different parts of the business needed to make complex change and inspiring others into action.

What competencies are required for the catalyst role?

  • Business perspective – to enable the consideration of the highest priorities for different business functions.
  • Change Management – to ensure the changes brought about by the transformation are adopted
  • Organisational agility and facilitation – to be able to adapt quickly and succeed in the transformational changes
  • Conflict Management – to select improvements that will add value to the organisation and manage the impact of these selections.

How can the transformation office develop the catalyst role?

  • Establish strong networks across the business with those generating change both inside and outside of the current transformation.
  • Focus time and resources on steering committees.
  • Actively seek the pinch points, interdependencies, and areas of ambiguity in the transformation.
  • Clearly articulate ‘calls to action’ avoiding noise.

The steward

The steward role can be utilised in four key ways: to provide gateway control of programmes; to track costs and benefits; to provide clear accounting outputs; and focus on interventions that protect already identified costs and benefits. The role then supports in protecting the company’s assets and communicating potential issues to maintain control.

What competencies are required for the Steward role?

Accounting and reporting – to enable clear and accurate financial reporting.Compliance – to ensure the programmes follow the appropriate regulatory requirements.Commercial acumen – to be able to correctly understand and interpret the financial data and communicate this to relevant stakeholders.

How can the transformation office develop the steward role?

  • Increase granularity of financial reporting processes.
  • Establish commercial expertise and intervene in programmes to course correct where required.
  • Enhance gateway controls by linking them more closely to both project and BAU budgets.

The strategist

The strategist role should be utilised in two key ways, to look externally to identify the technologies, operating models and behaviours being used that could genuinely make a step change, and to translate these in to a clear vision which others can buy in to. The role then supports in developing and communicating competitive strategies.

What competencies are required for the strategist role?

  • Critical thinking – to identify and implement solutions and ideas.
  • Analysis and presentation of data – to communicate the transformation vision and identified strategies.
  • Strategic Agility – to develop innovative ways to create value and adjust strategic direction in line with external developments.
  • Dealing with ambiguity – to embrace changes whilst dealing uncertainty, and communicate ambiguous matters effectively.

What can Transformation Office do to develop the Strategist role?

  • Define and communicate a clear vision of the future that the transformations will deliver.
  • Create ‘incubators’ to develop and test new ideas, before generating full blown programmes.
  • Look externally for radical ideas that can provide real benefits

The operator

The operator role is the driver of the Transformation Office. This encompasses three key areas: adherence to programme methodologies; allocating project management resources; and providing a centre of excellence. The operator role then supports in leading the project management with a focus on driving efficiency.

What competencies are required for the operator role?

  • Leverage system capabilities – to enhance resources and increase performance.
  • Program/ project management – to oversee and manage the project in an efficient manner.
  • Problem solving – to actively find solutions to drive the transformation.

How can the transformation office develop the operator role?

  • Centralise programme management resources, so they can be deployed more efficiently on the critical programmes.
  • Establish a central approach to project management, providing coaching to those operating projects and programmes which aren’t critical.

Executives should consider how the Transformation Office delivers each of these capabilities, enhancing the less mature areas. For support in assessing the maturity of your transformation team, or for help developing a step by step plan to drive improvements and value from your transformation office, please get in touch.

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