Updated on by Hayley Brown
Organisational culture is a result of how a business works and operates. As well as the shared values, goals, attitudes and practices that characterise an organisation. In other words, the culture is composed of the collective experiences of the employees, what they believe in and what they value.
Transforming a digital or organisational culture is complex and the new technologies and policies implemented should reflect the needs of employees and customers.
A report by MIT and Capgemini identifies the following as key attributes in adopting a digital-first culture: “customer-centricity, innovation, data-driven decision-making, collaboration, open culture, digital-first mindset, and agility and flexibility.”
Source – The Digital Culture: Closing the Employee-Leadership Gap
What are the main challenges associated with building a digital organisational culture?
Reluctance to change existing Processes/Procedures
When implementing new technologies or cloud infrastructure across an organisation it is important to get buy-in from all levels and departments. This is so it eases the frustration of employees because they have to learn a new system and replace processes. It is important to keep employees informed and engaged throughout the process. Therefore, clear and transparent internal communication is vital.
This communication should explain why the technology is being introduced and how it will help in the long term. As well as communication, training is important. Employees should be given appropriate training to ensure they understand the tech and how they can use it effectively.
Lack of in-house Expertise
A key principle of digital transformation is the implementation of new digital technologies which often requires a high level of specialist technical knowledge.
For instance, the focus in existing IT departments shifts from their typical work to learning and implementing new technologies. As a result, issues can arise in other areas of the organisation.
Therefore, it is advisable to outsource the implementation of new technologies from a trusted IT provider to achieve effective digital transformation. This is because in-house IT departments tend not to have the knowledge of specific solution implementation, cyber security and technical architecture.
Expensive Infrastructure Costs and a Limited Budget
Small and medium businesses may face budgetary constraints which are a significant barrier to digital transformation. As well as a limited budget the initial upfront costs can also dampen enthusiasm. Organisations may also have monetary constraints if the process is poorly planned and not scoped accurately. As a result, prices can dramatically increase due to needing additional time and resources.
Strategic planning can help overcome this financial hurdle. As well as working with an implementation provider with expertise in specific solutions. They can also advise out-of-budget solutions and other tech solutions at a lower price point.
Lack of Planning and Strategy
As mentioned above strategic planning is a necessity for implementing digital transformation. A lack of planning can have a severe knock-on effect across an organisation. For instance, poor integration with other IT systems can harm productivity and frustrate employees.
One of the key digital transformation principles is that technology should help employees work more efficiently and effectively, rather than force them to change the way they work. This is where strategic planning can help. By including key stakeholders early in the process you can discuss and establish the process, and set goals, objectives and timelines.
Prior to implementing and allocating resources leaders should discuss and listen to stakeholders. They have particular pain points and issues they encounter when working and it is important leaders take note and focus on them so they can implement the right technology.
They’ll then need to ensure employees understand how the new technology and automation will simplify their day-to-day work.
Wariness towards Automation
Organisations may find hesitancy from employees in regard to automation. Leaders should emphasize that automated processes are being implemented to replace manual repetitive processes to help employees save time and allow them to focus on new innovative ideas.
What is required from you to support organisational culture change?
Digital transformation requires much from an organisation to support cultural change. This includes intense planning and an attitude toward developing alternatives to handle any contingencies.
Define Digital Transformation for your Organisation
Firstly, the organisation needs to define digital transformation for itself and where it stands in relation to its goals. Then go on to define the requirements of the transformation and help employees see and understand the bigger picture.
Secondly, leaders will need to take control of the situation and make sure all the necessary transformation work is appropriately planned. As well as cultivate leadership qualities in employees who can lead parts of the process. This helps bring about change and further aids the development of a strong organisational culture.
Strong and Open Communication
Not only does communication help individuals and teams across an organisation understand the changing initiatives but, it also helps with employee engagement. Employees can share best practices they’ve learned while implementing the new software or as well as encourage them to speak to colleagues or leaders when things aren’t going as planned.
Tweak the Operational Model
Leaders should take a close look at the operating models of the organisation such as review systems or feedback loops to identify and surface issues employees face. As well as existing KPIs. They should develop digitally led KPIs that focus on behaviour rather than success or failure.
As a result, this can lead to more robust process tweaks and infrastructure changes that are more likely to be adopted by employees.
Be Consistent and Track Progress
From the outset, you’ll need to identify a number of key measures against which you can track progress. For instance, a number to measure if performance is on target. These key measures should reflect if not directly link to your overall goals.
As well as tracking your progress it is important to maintain consistency. However, maintaining consistency can be a challenge as change takes time, several years in fact. Therefore, to avoid a culture of cynicism it is important to stick to what you originally set out to achieve and be consistent throughout the transformation process. This means you’ll be able to maximise the impact and success.
How can an organisation encourage collaboration across the business to help deliver innovation and digital strategy?
An organisation can encourage collaboration across a business with a blend of top-down and bottom-up approaches. These approaches help to encourage collaboration, champion innovation, and engage, empower and inspire employees to build cultural change.
Source – The Digital Culture: Closing the Employee-Leadership Gap
The bottom-up and top-down approaches encapsulate many of our previous mentioned points under what is required from an organisation to drive cultural change. For instance, encouraging employees to be leaders and drive digital culture. As well as, designing or changing KPIs to reflect digital goals and behaviours. In other words, tweaking the existing operational model.
Ultimately, there needs to be a culture of openness and connectedness from top to bottom. This will help to decrease the gaps between leadership and employees. Then encourage collaboration and innovation throughout an organisation.
The successful implementation of new digital technologies adds significant value to an organisation. However, they must build the right digital organisational culture to grow and thrive alongside it. The report by MIT and Capgemini points out that “creating a digital culture is a mammoth task. It’s a multi-year endeavour that requires patience, tenacity and constant vigilance.”
Changing the culture of an organisation won’t happen overnight but as a Global Innovation Lead of a Fortune 500 company notes, “we need to connect everyone in order to innovate. We want to be very diverse. There is an unwritten rule that the more diverse we are, the more chance we have to innovate.”