How will digital transformation affect your company culture?

Digital transformation is not simply a case of updating technology or redesigning products or services. It is critical to align employee values and behaviours… and failure to do so can create additional risks to an organisation’s culture if not managed properly.

Yes, technology plays an important part in digital transformation, but unless leaders can ‘win hearts and minds’ throughout the journey, efforts can stall or be less successful.

With a comprehensive and collaborative focus on communication, this can help shift the culture to understand, embrace, and advance digital transformation with the added benefit of also enabling greater adoption of the digital led change in the long term.

Communication, therefore, should be a top priority during the digital transformation process, making clear the goals of the transformation and how it can help achieve the strategy. Leaders can focus on communicating the cultural attributes of the transformation that may help it succeed, including transparency, accountability, and a willingness to experiment.

As a digital transformation programme gets underway, your organisation’s values may need to be reviewed and refreshed to embed the right behaviours such as:

  • Collaboration
  • Continuous learning that is aligned to the digital transformation
  • Performance metrics: OKR’s and incentives aligned with your digital culture.

Effective leaders must invest in creating a clear vision of the transformation and effectively communicate it throughout the organisation. It’s important to recognise that this isn’t a ‘fire and forget’ activity, it’s important to reinforce the message on an ongoing/regular basis.

Every transformation comes with risks, and it’s important to address the challenges of balancing an experimental mindset with a risk-averse culture head-on. This often occurs where there is a misalignment in an organisation.

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Consequences of ignoring company culture during digital transformation

The consequences for organisations that do not align digital transformation goals with employee values can be significant and varied. They range from slow adoption to the loss of market competitiveness, or the ultimate failure of the initiative, lost productivity and associated revenue.

There are several steps organisations can take to understand, assess and respond to the challenges of culture-related risks in a digital transformation, including those that could jeopardise or derail the programme in it’s entirety.

To ensure effective digital transformation and achieve a cultural alignment, all parts of the organisation must be engaged. Cultural alignment can also reach people and operations that are outside of your organisation, such as temporary workers, suppliers or transformation partners who may have limited understanding of the organisations’ strategy and culture.

Some organisations are establishing a culture risk management workstream or programme to help their leaders better understand their culture and to identify signs that highlight there are cultural challenges lurking around the next door.

Such approaches use a wide range of tools. From employee behaviour monitoring, social listening and periodic “pulse checks” through talent surveys, town halls, and a range of online platforms. All can be effective in evaluating employee engagement and helping leaders and team members engage fully in the cultural transformation.

There has been a surge in behavioural science techniques and training being deployed to prompt employees toward desired behaviours. Such techniques, along with risk-based decision making and risk management concepts when applied through digital proficiency programs, can be embedded to enable the culture and equip employees to take smarter risks.

With the right attention to cultural alignment and ethical use of technology, organisations can better position themselves for a successful digital transformation.

If you need help to address the cultural side of your digital transformation, contact 

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