Demystifying the Role of Transformation by David H. Campos

By: David H. Campos, MBA, MS Eng

In this blog post, David H. Campos, MBA, MS Eng, demystifies the role of the Chief Transformation Officer. David has a long history in transformation. Prior to his current role, he spent seven years working internationally with McKinsey & Company, before going on to spend a decade with Kimberly Clark as Vice President & General Manager KCP Latin America. Today, David is the newly appointed Chief Transformation Officer & SVP for Serta Simmons Bedding LLC where he is focused on transforming the 3-billion-dollar company’s business performance in a market disrupted by a shift in consumer behavior. Read his blog post below.

If I had a penny for every time I’ve been asked, “what does a Transformation Office do?”, I would be comfortably retired by now (and I’m still a few years from that). Regardless of a company’s size or how sophisticated its employees are, the role of the Transformation Office can often seem mysterious.

I get why. A few common misconceptions are that the Transformation Office is a glorified program management office or that the Chief Transformation Officer (CTO) is the CEO’s chief-of-staff. Don’t get me wrong, part of the impact delivered by the Transformation Office is to implement a robust system for deploying strategies and measuring and delivering impact. But, if those two things alone define the entire role of the office, the full value of transformation within a company will fall short.

Transformation doesn't have to be scary

Woodrow Wilson famously said, “If you want to make enemies, try to change something.” That is why transformation efforts are invariably met with some resistance in the best case and with fear in most cases. That makes an important aspect of the CTO’s role to manage the organizational energy and ensure ownership of the transformation and its results resides with right people.

For any business to succeed and stay successful it must transform. Disruption caused by competitors, technologies, shifts in consumer expectations, to name a few, are around the corner. Even within our industry, which used to be considered sleepy (no pun), we’ve seen radical disruption caused by upstarts that innovated the consumer journey and the collapse of the moat that made it uneconomical to ship mattresses over long distances, to name just two. Staying just one step ahead is table stakes. As CTO, it’s my job to ensure we get ahead and stay ahead of our competitors by pushing the envelope in our strategy and how we execute it to drive results, both short-term and long-term. Strategy is also defining what we won’t do and how to free up resources to reinvest. That is why ensuring that everything we do delivers value to our customers is critical; at the end of the day, the only judge of what adds value and what doesn’t are our customers.

Building bridges, one chasm at a time

Every organization that I have been involved with invariably has had silos. Over the years I’ve come to the conclusion that silos are created by people with the best of intentions; they are trying to make the optimal decision within the bounds they have visibility to. The problem is that locally optimized decisions have unintended upstream and downstream effects that destroy value.

It isn’t realistic to think that the CTO will be able to break down silos altogether, but I consider it our responsibility to help build the most critical bridges. Lean experts have coined the concept of value stream; an approach that I have used successfully as a general manager over the years. While it sounds complex, it’s quite intuitive. You assemble everyone involved in the value chain (this means everyone involved in delivering the solution to the end-customer) and get them to jointly define a customer-facing problem(s) develop solutions and implement them.

Something almost magical happens when people, who are so ingrained in their respective corners of the business, talk to each other. A level of understanding, appreciation and collaboration takes hold, and ‘a-ha moments’ ensue.

There is of course more to the role, like driving growth, challenging, influencing, picking some fights, and ensuring we have the right talent. But for today let me leave it at that. Hopefully this reflection starts disrobing the CTO role from some of its cloak of opaqueness.

Keep up to date with the latest articles from David by following him on LinkedIn or meet him at OPEX Week 2020 where he will be leading a keynote presentation at the COO & Chief Transformation Officer Summit.