Who should lead re-invention? part I


Every business is a people’s business. AI should only support that. And every reinvention is also something done by people, with people, and for people. But who are the people, that drive the reinvention of a company? Let’s check out the usual suspects.


Ideally, it is the CEO who has the competence and, above all, the – temporary – freedom to reinvent the company. However, sometimes there is also a lack of willingness and courage to tackle this long-term issue. No matter how often a corporation talks about long-term orientation, the CEO is measured by short-term results. Quick wins, with or without a great strategy behind it, are possible as part of the transformation, but targeting them significantly reduces the overall impact. Hence, the traditional CEO very often does not epitomize the long-term change.

What he can do, and even must do, is supporting the transformation and the persons that are responsible for the changework. Or, more common: the person. Be it someone else from the organization (C-level) or someone joining from outside, it’s best to have one person that is in charge of the transformation within the framework of the reinvention. Close to the CEO and supported by the CEO.


If there this one person responsible for the transformation in the company, it’s best to give it the right name corresponding to the new role: CTO (Chief Transformation Officer). The key person to drive Intelligent Transformation. This position shouldn’t be mixed up with the current definition of the positions of CDO (Chief Digital Officer) or CTO (Chief Technical Officer). Though the position of the Chief Transformation Officer can be seen as merging of both positions, reinvention is more than understanding technological shifts and disruptions.

Remember, we speak about an intelligent transformation, that combines the technological possibilities of AI with the human potential for change.

And remember also, the “human” in “human potential” means more than just you and your peers. It means more than just the C-Level. People play the main role, and a lot of them at once. Definitely the demands and need of employees have to be understood. A learning company as a mantra. And, most importantly, the potential that is unleashed by a modern perspective on the customer (aka. EDM) is key for success: The customer more and more takes the driver’s seat and determines where your company is heading to.

Consequently, there could be a new definition and description for the CTO position: as a further development of the roles of CCO (Chief Commercial Officer) and CMO (Chief Marketing Officer). If not the CMO, who would then have the proximity to customers in his DNA with the necessary customer insight and hopefully data understanding? If your company is brave, it could also title the position as CRO (Chief Reinvention Officer).


The CTO (CRO) has multiple roles: on the one hand, sparring partners at the C-level and helping and supporting the leadership team in its tasks in an educational and inspiring way. On the other hand, he/she also drives the digital understanding of the extended management circle – often up to the VP/director level. In doing so, the position holder must know or anticipate the rules of the company and industry. Experience from different business areas and industries helps with this; often a mixture of „old and new economy“ is an advantage. Working with data is one of the criteria for success for the CTO. AI is a condition. Deep customer understanding is a must. Human knowledge is more important than ever.

Ultimately, the CTO and a X-functional transformation team are also change agents for necessary transformation. All-in-all a mammoth task that cannot be accomplished on its own.

The creation of the requirement profile for the CTO is in itself half the story of the reinvention move. Unfortunately, classic headhunters often fail at the job description. And often the Transformators-to-be are hired as CDO (Chief Digital Officer) being burned according to a widespread bad practice of “We have to face the digital transformation and we should do better than last time with the new* (*the CDO, which was hired 10 months ago, has already left the company frustrated again, because neither the task nor the objective was clearly defined)”.

That’s why teams are becoming more and more important; especially establishing and forming a new transformation team. The Lonely Rider approach won’t do the transformation trick. Yes, one person should be responsible for the transformation process, but no, this one person can’t do it all alone. The integration into the overall organization is critical to success – best practice are embedded teams in the organization with direct revenue responsibility.

More reinvention drivers stories to come in the next weeks. Stay tuned.



The genesis of the Educated Decision-Maker
Rethink the Customer
Reimagine Creativity