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What does a ‘Head of Transformation’ do?

09 February 2018

We caught up with Zak Mensah, Head of Transformation at Bristol Culture, Bristol City Council to find out more about his role.

Your role at Bristol Culture sounds fascinating, what does a ‘head of transformation’ do?

I’m a fixer. I get to lead on large-scale service-wide activity that seeks to make a ruckus within our service or within the sector. For example we needed to become ‘digital by default’ and place users needs at the heart of everything we do. A weakness was communication and running projects so I introduced agile principles and tools such as Basecamp and Trello. As a service we use digital tools heavily so a big continuous area of improvement is staff digital skills.  I also helped turn a crane into a treehouse! 

I wear a few hats as I manage the work of our Design and Marketing, Digital and User Research, Modern  Records Unit, Fundraising, Retail, venue hire, cafes, Bristol Film Office

What does a typical day look like for you at Bristol Culture?

I’m not allowed a coffee until I complete my first task, which could be tiny such as hitting inbox zero or huge such as scratching my head about how my teams will general over £2M in revenue – seeing as we’re a cultural business! I have eliminated nearly all meetings from my working day thanks to using trello and Basecamp for communication. I could be inspecting one of our shops, working with a collaborator, tinkering with a data set or listening. Listening to the public use our museums or one of our services is so important. People’s behaviour speaks volumes. We have five museums and an Archive service so I could be in one or more of our buildings throughout the day. My record is visiting 7 of our buildings in a single day! We are a team of teams and we have some of the best talent in the sector so I try to step back and allow them to guide “how” we solve a problem I want addressed.

What piece of advice would you offer to similar organisations wanting to become digital by default?

Find 1-2 people who care and give the process plenty of time. Tackle one problem at a time starting with easier problems to demonstrate success and give everyone confidence in you. Then scale those problems up up and away!

Zak will be speaking at CultureGeek on Wednesday 9 May. Find out more about the conference and book your ticket.