Transformation Blueprint: Setting Up A Transformation Office

Transformation Blueprint: Setting Up A Transformation Office
Summary: The transformation office can add significant value to the transformation efforts of an organization by ensuring that culture change sticks and the organization moves to a new structure.

Define The Intent, Structure, And Competencies

The volume, velocity, and complexity of change thrust upon us leave little room to avoid transformation. The only constant is change, and transforming ourselves and our organizations is the only way to withstand such change. In this article series titled "Transformation Blueprint," we explore the various levers of transformation available for an organization and offer practical tips and tools on how to activate them. This article defines the role of a transformation office and offers 3 tried-and-tested tactics you can explore as you build an office for your organization.

What Is The Role Of A Transformation Office, And Why Is It Important?

A transformation office shepherds the organization in its transformation journey and ensures that culture change is enduring in the new operating model that delivers value. The role of the office is both leading and iterative in terms of leading. According to McKinsey, the role of the transformation office is essential because it ensures that culture change sticks across the organization by continuously identifying and resolving hurdles in the transformation journey, connecting the dots across various pilots and initiatives, and leading by example in open and transparent communication.

Describe The Intent

The first step in building a transformation office is to describe and define the intent of the office and the transformation effort itself. Here, it is essential to clarify and differentiate a program office from a transformation office. According to Accenture, while the traditional Program Management Office (PMO) focuses on time and schedule, the transformation office goes beyond that and focuses on culture change, scaling transformation, and empowering and inspiring the organization to continue transforming. McKinsey outlines six ways in which the transformation office differs from a program office and offers value to an organization:

  1. Focuses on scaling agility across the organization by serving as the connecting tissue across various initiatives, pilots, and projects that aligns all efforts to the overarching organizational strategic plan;
  2. Leads efforts in collaboration with other departments such as Human Resources and Learning and Development to build a competency model of necessary skills the organization needs to remain relevant, such as an innovation competency model;
  3. Serves as the culture change champion for the organization, whereby the transformation office team members lead by example in inspiring and promoting the transformation value, benefits, and goals through a well-structured communications strategy;
  4. Coaches senior leaders to stay focused on the transformation efforts and role-model the behaviors the transformation aspires to help the organization achieve;
  5. Uncovers and manages interdependencies and minimizes overlaps across the various initiatives and pilots to ensure that resources are allocated smartly towards the highest strategic priorities;
  6. Identifies, codifies, and communicates best practices that emerge during the transformation so that the organization can leverage and scale them as needed across its enterprise.

The organizational leadership and C-suite will need to decide on which, if not all, of the six elements to adopt and adapt in describing the intent of the transformation office.

Determine The Reporting Structure

Once the organizational leadership describes the intent of the transformation office, the next step is to define the reporting structure. In the most successful use cases, the office reports directly to the CEO or a member of the C-suite, including the CFO or COO. The organizational structure is essential because it highlights how the C-suite views the criticality of the transformation itself and whether it is "baked in" or "bolted on" in the organization. The transformation office can include agile coaches, culture and organizational change experts, and communications specialists, all of whom embody the values of the transformation and serve as team members to the business leaders and teams that are implementing the transformation efforts.

Establish The Core Competencies, Roles, And Responsibilities

According to Accenture, the transformation office provides a 360-degree perspective of the organizational transformation efforts and enables everyone in the organization, from the C-suite to the junior individual contributors, to embrace and articulate the goal and efforts of the transformation. The office defines, designs, helps deliver, and measures the progress of the transformation efforts across the organization.

The core competencies needed to set up a transformation office include organizational change, enterprise architecture, systems thinking, program management, communications, and data analytics. Organizational change capabilities will enable the office to guide and coach leadership to ensure they stay with the transformation efforts, even when the journey gets tough. Enterprise architecture and systems thinking skills are important for the office team to possess so that it can connect the dots across pilots and initiatives, pinpoint bottlenecks and overlaps, and help iron those out across the organization. Program management skills are critical because they enable the program office to manage, support, and guide the various transformation efforts and help the implementing teams connect the dots. Communication skills are imperative for the transformation office team to possess so that it can communicate the progress of the transformation, connect the dots, highlight small and big wins, embrace failures, and keep the organization inspired when the transformation weariness starts to manifest. And finally, data analytics skills are foundational for the office because they enable it to define, describe, collect, and report the data that demonstrate the process, governance, and progress of the organizational transformation efforts.


Setting up a transformation office successfully is a complex and time-consuming undertaking. When done right, the office can add significant value to the transformation efforts of an organization by ensuring that culture change sticks and the organization move to a new operational model. The 3 main steps to successfully set up an office that will offer continuous value to the organization include describing the intent of the office, determining the reporting structure, and defining the competencies, roles, and responsibilities of the transformation office leader and team. The glue that keeps all the steps of setting up the office together consists of organizational leaders championing the transformation efforts and end-state behaviors through clear and consistent communication across the enterprise.