The right culture for business transformation

18 May 2018

Why is culture crucial for business transformation?

Culture is a set of beliefs and rituals that glue an organisation together. People identify with a culture because of shared values. The need for a holistic culture to support digital change is critical.

Transformation touches every part of the business. Every interface, every way people do their jobs and how you communicate with your customer. Designing and shaping transformation around your employees enables them to do their job in a smarter way.

Who drives cultural change?

Leaders are critical to creating the right agile digital culture. Leaders set the mission of the entire business. However, culture shifts cannot be dictated from the top down. Cultural change needs to derive from a shared vision. Employees must feel empowered to shape and evolve the culture themselves. As leaders, it’s too easy to fall into the trap that technology in itself is the only thing we need to change.

Some employees will be more willing than others, depending on their mindset. Whether your staff have a ‘growth’ mindset, or a ‘fixed’ mindset (Carol Dweck, Mindset: The New Psychology of Success) will determine how they engage with and respond to change. Organisations seeking digital transformation need to be deliberate about identifying and supporting innovators and empowering them to inspire others who lag behind.

How to create the right culture in your business

Digital transformation is not a technology deployment or an IT exercise. It is a people exercise. Business leaders must embrace cultural transformation and explore the behaviours that are needed to bring about lasting change. This requires belief and commitment, as changing human behaviour can cause discomfort.

Here are three approaches that can enable cultural change.

1. Share the business challenge and the desired outcomes

In order to embrace change, employees need to understand why it’s necessary. Showing them the background and the plan for the future helps employees to appreciate the wider context. 
Andreas Schierenbeck, CEO of Thyssenkrupp Elevator, one of the world’s leading elevator companies, explains. “Without [a plan], you can’t explain to your workforce what you want to change and why – you’re just running around trying to be innovative. A plan helps you to focus on what you want to achieve.”

2. Invite opinion and participation

When introducing automation, encourage staff to think about how their day-to-day tasks could be made easier or faster by automated processes.

This helps employees to see the value in business transformation and fosters a greater sense of participation. Perhaps most importantly, it provides valuable insights into how new technologies can be deployed.

3. Buddy up

Encourage employees to find others who are struggling with a problem, so they can share in the struggle together and collaborate to move forward.

Consider the age of employees when you’re forming groups, allow different brackets to learn from each other. This is a key way to promote collaboration within your business and across teams. Rather than defining change from on-high, allow your employees to work together on real problems and share their knowledge and skills.


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