Building a Transformation Team


Change in your industry is inevitable. The forces of digital disruption are both a cause and accelerator of change. Organizational change, on the other hand, is not inevitable. Organizational change will only occur when the internal forces driving change are more powerful than the organizational barriers it needs to overcome, and every organization has barriers.

A cross-functional transformation team made up of the right people, with the right sponsorship can break down organizational barriers, drive the collaborative innovation needed to identify and pursue transformation opportunities, and diminish the fear of change.


There are many barriers to change. Some are obvious, e.g.:

  • limited budgets
  • organizational silos
    • perceived operational, functional boundaries

Most organizations are siloed to a certain degree, and while this might be considered normal in many organizations, it can also lead to inefficiency, duplication of work, and redundant processes. Silos can present many barriers to transformation activities.

Some barriers are less obvious:

  • hierarchy
  • processes
  • legacy technology
  • technology compatibility
  • resource scarcity
  • competitiveness
  • skill requirements
  • fear & anxiety

Fear is an important one. People are afraid of change. Change can make people feel uncertain about the future, uncertainty can lead to perceived threats of many types, and fear or anxiety is the natural human response. You’ve heard of the “fight or flight” response. Today it’s more commonly known as the “fight, flight, or freeze” response. If your transformation agenda causes uncertainty you run the risk of your people becoming either active barriers (fight), disengaging (flight), or being less efficient (freeze).

Successful transformation requires you to break organizational silos and remove uncertainty.

what is a transformation team?

Transformation teams are cross-functional teams made up of people with widely varied skills drawn from different key organizational units or silos. They are brought together to break the barriers, drive your transformation agenda, identify transformation opportunities, and coach other people in their organizational silos.

insights & further reading

One study found that 75% of cross-functional teams are dysfunctional. Those that are successful have executive sponsorship, clear goals, and good governance practices.1 Applying the principles from earlier chapters is crucial to the success of a transformation team.

If you are thinking about or have already adopted SCRUM2 or AGILE3 work practices these also both rely on establishing successful cross-functional teams.


Create a transformation team using the below guidelines:

  • identify the right team members
    • target “organizational influencers”
    • highly talented & multi-skilled
    • technology literate
    • with cross-silo links
  • assign an executive sponsor at the highest level
    • not your CIO or CTO
  • fund their initiatives independently of traditional organizational boundaries
  • start with a clear shared vision and goals
    • aligned with your organizational vision and transformation agenda
  • name the team
  • grant the team decision making power
  • use a flat hierarchy
  • showcase the team’s achievements every chance you get
  • train them to coach others

Use your transformation team to remove uncertainty and coach others in their respective silos on the changes they are driving.

Remove uncertainty through:

  • applying the methods discussed in previous chapters
  • re-affirming the value you place in people, regularly

Our methods & tools section includes everything you need to adopt these recommendations, including templates and more in depth analysis, and can be further customized based on your specific requirements.

methods & tools

Contact us to discuss your requirements and access this practical content.