Setting up a Transformation Agency

Define the intention, structure and competencies

The volume, speed and complexity of changes forced upon us leave little room for transformation to be avoided. The only constant is change, and transforming ourselves and our organizations is the only way to resist such change. In this series of articles titled “Transformation Blueprint,” we explore the different levers of transformation available to an organization and provide best practices and tools to activate them. This article defines the role of a transformation office and offers 3 proven tactics to explore as you build an office for your organization.

What is the role of a transformation agency and why is it important?

A transformation agency guides the organization during its transformation journey and ensures that the culture change is sustainable in the new business model that generates value. The office’s role is both leading and iterative in terms of leading. According to McKinseythe role of the transformation agency is essential as it ensures that culture change lingers throughout the organization by continuously identifying and resolving obstacles in the transformation journey, connecting the dots in 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 distinguish a program agency from a transformation agency. According to accentwhile the traditional Program Management Office (PMO) focuses on time and planning, 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 provides value to an organization:

  1. Focuses on scaling across the organization by serving as a connecting fabric between various initiatives, pilots, and projects that align all efforts with the organization’s overarching 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. Acts as the culture change champion for the organization, with the transformation agency team members leading by example in inspiring and promoting the transformation value, benefits and goals through a well-structured communication strategy;
  4. Coaches senior leaders to stay focused on the transformation efforts and be a role model for the behaviors the transformation is pursuing to help achieve the organization;
  5. Discovers and manages interdependencies and minimizes overlaps between the various initiatives and pilots to ensure that resources are smartly allocated to the highest strategic priorities;
  6. Identifies, codifies, and communicates best practices emerging during transformation so the organization can leverage and scale them across the enterprise as needed.

Organization leadership and the C-suite will have to decide which, if not all, of the six elements should be adopted and adapted when describing the transformation agency’s intent.

Determine the reporting structure

Once the organization’s leadership has outlined the transformation agency’s intent, 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 shows how the C-suite sees the criticality of the transformation itself and whether it is “ingrained” or “bolted” into the organization. The transformation agency may 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 for the business leaders and teams implementing the transformation efforts.

Determine the core competencies, roles and responsibilities

According to Accenture, the transformation agency provides a 360-degree perspective of the organization’s transformation efforts and empowers everyone in the organization, from the C-suite to the junior individual contributors, to embrace the purpose and efforts of the transformation and to express. The office defines, designs, helps deliver and measures the progress of transformation efforts across the organization.

The core competencies required to build a transformation agency include organizational change, enterprise architecture, systems thinking, program management, communications, and data analytics. The organizational change capabilities enable the firm 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 between pilots and initiatives, spot bottlenecks and overlaps, and help smooth them out across the organization. Program management skills are critical as 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 team to communicate the progress of the transformation, connect the dots, highlight small and big wins, embrace failures and keep the organization inspired when the transformation fatigue begins to manifest. And finally, data analytics skills are the foundation for the firm, as they enable it to define, describe, collect, and report the data that demonstrates the process, governance, and progress of organizational transformation efforts.


Successfully setting up a transformation agency is a complex and time-consuming undertaking. Done right, the office can add significant value to an organization’s transformation efforts by ensuring the culture change sticks and the organization transitions to a new operating model. The 3 key steps to successfully establish an office that provides 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 leader and the transformation office team. The glue that holds together all the steps of setting up the office is organizational leaders championing the transformation effort and ultimate behavior through clear and consistent communication across the enterprise.