In early 2013, I plan to continue researching the business/IT partnership for process transformation by . . .  interviewing Chief Process Officers. I’ve only met two honest-to-goodness officially titled Chief Process Officers, although I’ve heard rumors of more, and I've talked with many who have that responsibility. If you are a CPO or know someone who would like to talk on or off the record, please send a note to Many thanks!

You may be wondering, what is a Chief Process Officer? My working definition is:

A chief process officer (CPO) is the senior-most executive reporting to the board of directors, CEO, or COO with responsibility for an enterprise’s business process transformation and continuous improvement initiative. The CPO works with executive counterparts to develop strategic goals and objectives for process transformation in alignment with the business strategy; identify 5-6 cross-functional processes for transformation; and identify business outcomes (based on the customer’s outside-in perspective on processes). The CPO oversees process governance, methodologies, training, and change management and helps other process owners within business functions. The CPO may have more than one title and one set of responsibilities.

Some reasons why CPOs are as hard to find as unicorns may be:

  • Most companies have not yet embarked on strategic business process transformation.
  • Senior executives (including CEOs and COOs) are doing this job already without the CPO title.
  • Other titles compete, like Business Architect, Sr. VP of Business Optimization, and Sr. VP of Process Improvement.

It’s important to learn more about the CPO’s role and determine who in the organization is going to take on this leadership. For without it, organizations on a transformation path to be process-driven by 2020 may sputter out in 2014-2016 for lack of leadership, knowledge, and process skills.