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Corporate Transformation Portfolio

Leading successful transformation: How to design a Corporate Transformation Portfolio


Peter Borchers
Project Sponsor / 

Principal Investigator
Christoph Seckler
Principal Investigator

Bugra Kilinc

Project Coordinator /
Principal Investigator

With expertise in digital matters, Peter Borchers advises CxOs and has supported numerous companies in setting up, operating and reviewing their corporate startup programs. Peter founded and led "hub:raum", the global startup incubator for Deutsche Telekom, and served as CEO of Allianz X, where he built and led the global corporate venture fund and company builder ($500 million budget).
80% of corporations founded before 1980 have disappeared, and another 17% face an uncertain future within the next five years. 

While debate continues over the accuracy of these figures, they underscore a reality that business leaders cannot afford to ignore. Corporations must navigate a rapidly evolving landscape characterized by the rapid emergence of transformative technologies (e.g., AI, robotics, biotech) and shifting consumer preferences (e.g., sustainability, evolving lifestyles).

The key question facing business leaders is not whether to embark on transformation, but how to assess and manage it effectively! And this DS:E research project aims to understand how to design a corporate transformation portfolio to address this crucial question. 


Based on Seckler et al. (2014), business leaders have four arrows in their quiver when it comes to business transformation (see figure below). Seckler et al (2014) termed them: 

  • Incubation (changing the game), 

  • Intrapreneurship (improving the game), 

  • Investment (joining the game), and 

  • Involvement (discovering the game). 



All four strategies have the potential for companies to identify and seize business opportunities and transform the company, regardless of the area of transformation (e.g., digitalization, sustainability). They differ along two key axes. First, they differ in their transformational potential, ranging from radical to incremental. Second, they differ in their integration potential, which refers to the ease with which the initiative can be integrated into the organization, ranging from low to high potential. 

However, before effectively orchestrating the Four-Is, leaders must address three core questions (see figure below): 1. What is the North Star for business transformation? 2. What is the current portfolio of transformation initiatives? 3. How should it be designed for the future?


Assessing the current transformation initiatives is the key cornerstone. First, leaders must identify the transformation initiatives in which their organization is currently investing. Next, leaders must evaluate each of these initiatives. 


As there is little guidance in the academic literature on how to analyze and evaluate the corporate transformation portfolio, this DS:E Design Science project aims to develop an evaluation tool to assess the current portfolio of a coorporation, which can be used in the next step to effectively design the corporate transformation portfolio. 


Starting in September, ESCP Master students will elaborate on the Readiness Index in a Design Science Master Thesis, combined with the findings of the Venture Clienting study as well as insights from the academic world. Based on the results of the master's thesis, the assessment tool will be further improved and tested in a real-world environment to ensure high usability. ​


In general, we are open to any kind of involvement. Whether you are interested in joining the project as a researcher or would like to contribute your expertise from the business side, there are numerous ways to collaborate and make an impact


For more information contact Bugra Kilinc via bkilinc(at)

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