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CEO Confidential

Partners in Transformation: Bringing Creatives and Consultants Together to Enact Real Change

When an organization commits to changing its culture, business model, or brand, the impetus can often be traced back to the need to move from a vertical to a horizontal structure, to free talent from outdated business practices, or to harness digital’s full potential. 

In fact, ninety-five percent of CEOs view technological disruption as an opportunity rather than a threat. This belief has led seventy-one percent of them to ready their organizations for a “radical transformation.” 

But this readiness doesn’t make transformation any less challenging. Changes are complex, taking significant investments in time and money to reorient an entire business. More importantly, it requires you, the CEO, to embody the transformation to motivate staff and reassure customers and investors. 

Take ThyssenKrupp CEO Heinrich Hiesinger. He knew the only way to compete was to move away from the steel industry’s core business and reposition the company’s offerings. He divested less profitable lines and moved into custom manufacturing and digital services like 3D printing. The move paid off, and the new ventures account for forty-seven percent of sales. 

Like Hiesinger, the CEO must be the consistent face of a transformation, but it takes the intelligence and commitment of an entire company to successfully navigate change. 

Steering the Ship At a leadership level, there’s always a team that steers the ship. It defines strategy, aligns work streams, collaborates, and ensures everyone stays focused on the goal. Although its makeup will shift as challenges and opportunities arise, the core of this team will remain in place throughout the transformation. 

Supporting leadership will be countless project teams implementing the key tactics necessary for success. While these teams might be working on different projects, they all need to be working together toward a common goal in order to be successful. That means all employees must understand their role in the journey, and they also need to be able to work together to achieve the company’s overarching goals. 

Creatives and consultants, in particular, might clash when it comes to determining the best way to reach those goals. As you bring the smartest creatives and consultants in your organization together to fully realize a transformation, there are three things you should do to increase the chances of success: 

  1. Turn the strategy into a story. Transformation strategies are compelling for those in the C-suite, but they don’t always incite much fervor from the masses. Consultants can come up with brilliant strategies to help the company pivot and transform; then, creatives can turn even the driest blueprint into an exciting movement that all employees can get behind. Stories add emotion to rational arguments, helping everyone get on board.
  1. Create drama.It’s one thing to argue that machine learning will deliver increased insights. It’s another thing entirely to describe what this means in tangible terms. Ask creatives and consultants to create mind paintings of the post-transformation world to provide a dramatic shorthand that will drive your strategy’s narrative. When employees have a meaningful vision of what the future will look like, they will work harder to get there.
  1. Find the magic.When consultants partner with creatives, a strange alchemy takes place. Arguments once based on research, forecasting, and benchmarking become unexpected hypotheses that open up unimagined opportunities for growth that will fuel your transformation. You can’t do this without a team of smart, determined, hard-working people, so that’s the first step in creating transformation magic.

A successful transformation is greater than the sum of its parts. Each piece must be connected to enact lasting change, and the filament that fastens it all together will be creatives and consultants.


Written by: Rik Haslam, executive creative partner at BrandPie.

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Rik Haslam
Rik Haslam, executive creative partner at BrandPie, creates transformative stories and experiences for the world’s biggest brands, including American Express, British Airways, HP, IBM, Nissan, Pfizer, and Virgin Media.