Musings on designing experiences & (re)engineering complexity

Nov 2021

What Does A Fractional Executive Do?

In the recent attention towards Avanceé, one area of interest has been in shaping “fractional executive services.“ Thought it would take a little to understand, but am finding the curiosity of what is possible needs to also be tangible to what is delivered. So this will lay out that offering as conceived so far.

First, it makes sense to start with what Avanceé already is, taken from the description here:

Avanceé articulates the value of systems and design experiences, then (re)engineers complexity alongside individuals, teams, and/or small businesses through tailored coaching, management, and consulting

Or, to say it another way: empowering individuals/teams to take their next operational step(s) forward by reducing complexity in process, tech, and/or behaviors. Implementing this and guiding best results is where a fractional executive comes in.

Pulling from Wikipedia‘s definition, a fractional executive is one _ who offers their management services to organizations on a for-hire, part-time basis. These executives typically have experience in a business environment in roles such as chairperson, owner, CxO, senior vice president, vice president, or director. Their skills can be focused in one discipline or be more broad-based, depending on their experience._ in the very clear case of Avanceé, this shape of a fractional executive fits within the vertical of design and research strategy operations, which is commonly an office held by a chief experience officer, chief design officer, or director of user experience.

##So then, what does a fractional executive do?

snippet of screenshot from sensemaking workshop

At its most basic level, a fractional executive is a stand-in for that specific executive role enabling an organization to craft strategy, management, or operational governance in such a way that does not disrupt existing daily operations, but enables crafting paths for future scaling and success. Somewhat less expensive overall than having them full-time, the fractional executive has a higher initial cost with a greater return because they are supporting internal structures to develop and mature personnel and processes, rather than just be the figurehead themselves.

This is not an uncommon arrangement in some mid to large- sized organizations, though it is a newer one to the better understood consultant-model. It makes sense because it gives time back to business operations to concentrate on other areas of maturing finance, security, or even project management, without the extra overhead of looking for executive leadership (for a time). At the same time, this arrangement is also time bound. Meaning that measures of success have to happen quickly, within a specific time period. This time period leaves a little room for wasted meetings, bloated integration of software or processes, or even extend it resource allocation cycles. More than simply supporting company growth, The right approach for a fractional executive embraces and fosters organizational maturity.

In the role of a fractional executive, Avanceé comes into an organization with an open mind and clear focus about driving specific outcomes. Those specific outcomes are going to be driven by being human-centered in research, embracing friction-lessened design, and demonstrating an ethical approach in behavior enabling intuitive workflows. These tenants support outcomes bolstering organizations for their expected growth trajectory, allowing agility and resiliency within their organizational character to be cultivated healthily. Deliverables may vary; but are always tailored to the needs of the organization.

##What sectors are being targeted for this service offering?

process diagram for HCD knowlege help bot

Initially, civic tech, health/finance operations, and distributed commerce groups (i.e., chambers of commerce). These sectors have existing connections, and primed for exploration and maturity our experience sees happening nationally and internationally. In addition, as Avanceé scales, it’s resulting structure will enable several of these engagements concurrently, where each fractional executive and/or consultant doesn’t just add value to the attending company, but also creates artifacts and behaviors of increasing value between its members.

If that sounds good, schedule some time to talk and see how Avanceé might be able to help your organization move forward.