Welcoming our new CEO

Originally written by Lee Bryant on June 14, 2016.

We are delighted to welcome Christine Overby, who is joining our group as CEO of Shift*Base. See Christine’s blog post for her view and our press release for details of her career and achievements as an executive at Forrester Research.

There is no shortage of self-appointed thought leaders urging firms to change or die, nor consulting white papers that blissfully offer up the six or ten things a company needs to do as part of their Digital Transformation (simples!). But as somebody who has spent far too much time in the trenches of technology-driven organisational change, I know just how hard the implementation is compared to generating big picture vision.

This is a truly exciting time for business. New technology has given us connected super powers that open up a whole new world of possibilities when it comes to how we organise to get work done. Startups can create structures and ways of working that are orders of magnitude more efficient and productive than the traditional organisations whose markets they are disrupting. But for established companies, transformation from within is much harder, and many problems are difficult to solve within the mindset and structure of vertical silos and divided org charts. The ‘why’ of Digital Transformation is now pretty clear, and we are making good progress towards building a more detailed picture of ‘what’ needs to change; but the number of people who can honestly answer the ‘how’ question at every level, from the C-suite down through business units to the individual team – ideally, based on experience of having done it –  is surprisingly small.

Rather than more inspirational social media posts, executives we talk to say they need models, methods, real (not sanitised) case studies and research into what other companies are doing; practical, actionable insights into how to address common blockers and barriers, and more digital skills at every level. But the traditional research and analyst sector is still pumping out static reports designed to sell consulting or buyer research that assumes that you can procure your way to change. Our goal with Shift*Base is more ambitious: we want to disrupt our own consulting business by providing such useful information products, tools and learning that companies can succeed with Digital Transformation without us, or only call us in where our experience is needed.

Our group has generated a ton of useful methods, models and learning materials over the past few years, through our work with firms ranging from small professional services firms to huge companies like Bosch. But scaling an insights business and making sure it delivers what is needed by executives and change agents trying to transform their organisations is a new challenge for us, so we looked around for the right blend of skills, experience and passion for the topic that can help us succeed – and we were incredibly lucky to connect with Christine at a point where she was ready to take on a major new career challenge.

We first met Christine around 6 years ago when she was an executive at Forrester Research, and were impressed by her drive and commitment to really understanding the needs and concerns of her customers. Conversations with hundreds of executives across IT and business functions since then convinced her that driving organisational change and exploring new ways of working were the most urgent priorities for established businesses, so she left Forrester and spent six months researching how best to achieve this. With twenty years of experience in all aspects of running successful research, learning and related content offerings, she was a natural choice to lead our insights business.

As Christine puts it: I joined Shift*Base because at this point in my career, I want the problems of the world to dictate what I do.” 

We are excited to get started with the product design process to see how we can improve on existing delivery formats for research, learning and practice guides, and will be sharing the early results of this work by the end of the summer. If you have any ideas about how we can help people trying to transform their organisations or develop new ways of working,we would love to hear from you.

As a first step, we are interviewing heads of digital and HR for research on the practical challenges they face in Digital Transformation initiatives, and what barriers they think are holding back new ways of working. To participate and receive a complimentary copy of the analysis, contact christine@shiftbase.net.