Gary Burke, an expert in Transformational Change, is a very active Expert of Camelot and was a key speaker at our first ever Camelot Live event on Innovation. In 2023 he published ‘A Transformation Lens’ which became a #1 bestseller on Amazon and has received dozens of 5-star reviews – the below give an idea of what people think of it:
"The most practical guide to successful transformation I have read"
"A must have for both exec teams sponsoring transformations and those embarking on a transformation lead role"
If you’re in the UK you can read more or buy a copy here - https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/1781337845.
If you’re outside the UK just search for ‘A Transformation Lens’.
Gary’s broad ranging industry expertise and his engagement in Camelot are both widely appreciated. Read on to learn more about the man who rings in the changes…
So, in a nutshell: what do you do, and enable your customers to do?
The point of any transformation (be it business, digital or any other flavour of transformation) is to bring about a step change in a company’s operation and performance to deliver different and better outcomes.
It’s complex stuff and can involve significant changes to the company’s business model and/or its operating model (both of which are sometimes poorly understood) so the challenges and complexities involved, and the impact transformational change has across all parts of the organisation are often underestimated. This can easily lead to costly failures, both financially and reputationally, so I help companies deliver transformational change successfully, and there are two main aspects to what I do.
Firstly, I work with leadership teams to help them better understand what’s really involved so the decisions that are made at the outset of any transformation programme regarding strategy, direction, prioritisation and investment etc are informed decisions. This helps to ensure that transformation programmes can be approached and subsequently executed in the right way, avoiding the common pitfalls and reducing programme risk and cost.
Secondly, I get involved with the execution and delivery of transformation programmes. This may be in a leadership role (eg programme director) or in an advisory role, acting as a critical friend, providing guidance, support, oversight and challenge to the programme sponsor or board.
I also work with solution providers and insurtechs to help them better understand how their products impact their clients’ business operation (not just their IT) and, since publishing ‘A Transformation Lens’, I’ve been invited to speak at various corporate events and conferences – most recently at the British Computer Society and The Insurance Network (TIN London Market).
What are some recent projects you’ve worked on?
Alongside the speaking events, recent activity has included working with an insurance broker helping them re-platform and introduce new ways of working (expanding their digital offering etc) and with an insurer to review their operating model as they scale their business. Outside of the insurance sector, I’ve been helping a health care company develop their change capability and improve their business planning process.
What is your unique selling point? What makes your business approach unique?
I’ve worked across a number of sectors although a lot of my career has been spent in the insurance industry. Although starting my career as a student actuary, I’ve been working in the transformation and change space since the mid-1990s in a variety of project, programme and head of change roles, for companies, consultancies and solution providers – so I’ve seen things from all side of the fence. It’s this rounded experience and the ability to keep the big picture in view whilst also appreciating the detail, an innate curiosity, a pragmatic common-sense approach, and the confidence to ask the stupid questions and challenge the status quo, coupled with a desire to establish clarity and ‘make things work better’ that gives me my USP.
What is, or what should be, hot on the industry’s lips in your view?
It’s impossible not to mention AI…. however, alongside all the talk of what it is, isn’t, and may or may not be able to do now and in the future, we need to remember that lots of hard work has gone into developing the products and solutions being discussed – they didn’t just magically appear! Companies in the insurance industry, many of which struggle with legacy technology, siloed operations and poor data, will need to address these issues to take advantage of any such solutions. Getting the basic foundations in place, particularly understanding the organisation’s operating model, is critical… there are no silver bullets!
So, what’s one workplace challenge you have overcome?
Programme recoveries are always interesting as in my experience a major factor is that the fundamental things just haven’t been done – akin to building a house without putting in the foundations, and then wondering why it falls down! With the recoveries I’ve managed I’ve always taken a pragmatic approach to reset and refocus the programme – re-engaging stakeholders, getting control over costs, re-clarifying outcomes, objectives, scope and benefits, and ensuring that activity is aligned to appetite and capability.
What should everyone be reading/listening to?
My book of course! 😊 “A Transformation Lens: The savvy business leader’s approach to transformational change” - https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/1781337845.
“Drunk Tank Pink: The subconscious forces that shape how we think, feel and behave” by Adam Atler - https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/1780745834
Do you have any words of wisdom for us or a short phrase that sums up your ethos?
“Keep it simple” immediately springs to mind. Companies can sometimes overcomplicate things, lose sight of the big picture and end up with solutions and outcomes that don’t address the real issues and what’s really needed.
There is another that I’d like to share… the scenario being a company that’s about to embark on a transformation programme, and the three questions that the exec sponsor should be able to answer before contracts are signed with solution providers and consultancies:
Q1. What outcomes do you want, ie. what will the organisation look like, what experience do you want customers to have post-transformation?
Q2. Why do you want these, ie. what problems are solved / opportunities taken advantage of and how do they align to the organisation’s strategy?
Q3. If I asked your leadership team colleagues Q1 and Q2, would I get the same answers?
Do you have a Favourite quote?
“One can never consent to creep when one feels an impulse to soar” – Helen Keller
“I won’t be the one to be bound by the sound of if only”. Okay, it’s a lyric rather than a quote but I like it! It’s from the song ‘If Only’ by Hazel O’Connor from the Breaking Glass film soundtrack.
Any professional goals for the upcoming year?
I’m passionate about changing how transformational change is approached, executed and delivered, as programmes should be more successful than they often are. Building on the success of my book, my professional goals are to continue speaking at events to raise awareness of how to think about transformation in a more holistic way and continue to add as much value as I can to clients, whether that be in an advisory or leadership/execution capacity.
And… Last but not least, how does being an Expert of Camelot help you/or add value to your business?
Being an Expert of Camelot has given me the opportunity to get to know some amazingly talented people working within the insurance sector and beyond.