2 minute read

Transformation heroes: the roles you need for every change programme

Having the right team and structure in place is the key to successful business transformation. Arif Harbott, co-author of The HERO Transformation Playbook, outlines the core roles required

Transformation heroes: the roles you need for every change

Having the right people in the right roles will make or break the transformation. Putting the wrong leadership in will cause your transformation to fail.

Over the last 20 years we have delivered some of the largest and most complex transformations. From this we’ve seen time and again that having the right team and structure in place can be the difference between success and failure.

Because of this, we set out to define and codify the key roles that are needed in any transformation, what they should do, their key traits and how they should work together as a unit. This forms a key part of the HERO™ Transformation Framework which is a detailed approach to leading successful transformations.

You may already have transformation or programme teams that you can draw these resources from. That would be the ideal place to start when looking to fill the various key roles.

Key role 1: Transformation lead

The transformation journey is long and hard and will test the resolve of the transformation leadership team. Therefore the most critical appointment for the transformation is that of the transformation lead.

This is the single accountable person for the success of the transformation (ie, achieving the transformation outcome) and the most senior role within HERO™ Transformation Framework:

Key role 2: Workstream lead

The workstream lead is responsible for delivering their workstream’s proportion of the transformation outcome.

This person is similar to the workstream programme manager in other delivery methodologies. As a workstream typically mirrors a functional area, for example finance or operations, we strongly recommend the workstream lead comes from the respective functional area.

Key role 3: Initiative lead

The initiative lead is akin to a project manager (or delivery manager). This person is responsible for the delivery of the expected outcome of the Initiative (project).

The initiative lead will work with a project team in order to deliver the Initiative. The size and make-up of this team will obviously depend on the type of initiative. For example, negotiating a supplier contract will require a different team from those installing a new technology system.

Key role 4: Transformation Team

The transformation team supports the transformation lead to deliver the transformation.

While similar to a project management office, the difference is that the transformation team’s focus is on the delivery of value, not the adherence to a process.

The size of this team is not fixed; in small transformations it may just be a handful of people. However in larger transformations it can comprise dozens of people.

Key role 5: Workstream Team

The workstream team supports the workstream lead to deliver the Initiatives within the workstream.

The members of the workstream team can be dynamic and change over the duration of the transformation. It includes any role that is needed to help the workstream lead deliver the outcome in the fastest possible timescale.

Reporting Structure

There are clear reporting lines in our transformation framework, with each role working together to deliver a successful transformation:

  1. Initiative Leads report to Workstream Leads
  2. Workstream Leads report to the Transformation Lead
  3. Transformation Lead reports to the board


Reporting Structure

Arif Harbott, pictured below, is co-author of The HERO Transformation Playbook with Cuan Mulligan and a CTO and transformation expert who has delivered some of the world’s largest and most complex transformations. He is co-founder of The HERO Transformation Framework 

Arif Harbott, co-author of The HERO Transformation Playbook

Published 24 September 2020

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