There is no such thing as affordable stagnation in the tech industry, or any industry for that matter. Trends do not stay consistent for long, bringing new standards and expectations with each passing year. Change or die. This past year alone has more than proven the theorem that change is a necessity that cannot be understated. This is a role no better filled by anything other than digital transformation.
Obviously, we don’t need to ask you to look out the window to see how drastically our lives have been changed in such a short time. It’s precisely because of this that has given rise to digital transformation’s bigger, protagonic role in the wake of every industry’s clamber to adapt. With how much the pandemic has impacted business practices, companies have had to reinvent themselves or completely change processes to adapt.
We’re far from out of the woods. Even once the curve is flattened and things gravitate once more toward normalcy, coronavirus has peeled back the veil on how we must approach business from here on out. How will we handle the next crisis? It may not come soon, it may not come within our lifetimes, or it could be taking place every year for the coming decade. Frightening, we know, but there is one constant amongst it all: change.
Technology may be the main ingredient in digital transformation, but without the workforce having a correct mindset and skill set to push the initiative forward, it’s absolutely useless. In essence, you want to construct a positive, productive organizational culture. In a BCG study of 40 digital transformations, companies that focused on culture were 5x more likely to achieve breakthrough performance than companies that neglected culture.
What Is Organizational Culture?
A company culture is not incongruous with the concept of diversity, to begin with. You’ll need a strong sense of both to generate and maintain the type of company that both you and your employees are proud of. Diversity provides you with the uniqueness that drives innovation, manufacturing the distinct viewpoints, ideas, and team builds that propel you forward. Culture, however, is the string that knits everyone within a common goal.
What connects your workplace? A culture within an organization is composed of shared beliefs, values, ways of doing things, and ways of interacting that contribute to the social environment of the organization. It’s also the kind of thing you want working in your favor. The culture is reinforced through different methods, and will impact how the workforce behaves, understands, and perceives.
Most importantly of all, it glues employees together in a sense of purpose. As a company, you want to harness and focus the incredible talent, uniqueness, and personalities you have at your disposal toward a common goal. Nurturing a profoundly impactful, tightly-knit culture helps you achieve this, and by that virtue allows you to digitally transform your company with minimal friction.
How to Foster a Digital Transformation Culture?
Creating the variant of digital transformation culture that you’re looking for isn’t going to be something that happens naturally. It requires guidance and reinforcement. Microsoft UK COO, Clare Barclay, explains: “You’ve got to get the right culture and change programme in place to unlock the true value of technology. Creating a culture in which technology blends with human potential is where the magic happens.”
The bigger question we want to answer is why culture change is essential for digital transformation. After all, the organizational culture surrounding your company can’t possibly be that impactful on the move, right? Wrong. Digital transformation is not a monolithic, mindless task that can perform its duties autonomously. It’s driven by people, and people who shake up the company culture destabilize your prospects for a successful, smooth, easy digital transformation. We’ll get more in depth on that coming up.
1. Have a Clear Goal and Communicate It Clearly
Why have you decided to undergo this massive change? Digital transformation is not a process that can or should be undertaken lightly, and once you start tamping down this new path you’re not going to get to backpedal. You have to put yourself in your employees’ shoes. What are they thinking and feeling about this new endeavor? There is no comfort that can be taken in management if your workforce feels like the blind are leading the blind.
Transparency, foresight, and clarity are imperative here. Digital transformation must have a clear purpose, and that vision should be shared with your employees as soon as it can be reliably communicated and understood. When employees realize and understand the reasons and benefits that will come from adapting to new technologies, their resistance to change is reduced.
There are a lot of common fears that come supplementary with changes to the status quo. Perhaps most pressuring of all is the fear of replacement and being out of a job by the conclusion of this renovation. Employees will be hesitant to commit fully to the transformation if they’re afraid of technology taking over their tasks.
It’s part of your handbook that you assuage these fears, an integral portion of the clear communication sections of this initiative. Give your people clear examples of how technology will be adding value, augmenting their capabilities and empowering them to succeed, not replacing them. The addition to technology into the infrastructure of your company is intended to facilitate the creativity and versatility of your workers. No robot can truly replace the value of the human spirit.
2. Start With Your Company’s Leaders, But All Levels Must Promote Change
The obvious place to start with digital transformation is with the top brass. The leaders of your organization are the first to discuss, debate, and enact the introductory steps of your overall plan, which makes them the pivotal members that need to get on board with it. They are, after all, the select personnel who will helm this journey and set the mission and purpose of any change initiative.
This is a lot of adaptation to go through. Like we said, change isn’t easy, and leadership has the tendency of clinging to what is familiar and known. These fallback practices, however proven they may be historically, are old habits that impede innovation. Not everything works forever, and success depends on learning new, healthier habits. Providing they’re able to, they’ll be responsible for identifying new culture characteristics and translate it to behavioral changes or specific attitudes within the company.
However, the efforts to engage a proper organizational culture cannot start and end there with your C-levels and leaders. The culture must be pervasive and seep into every level of your company. Strong leadership and employee engagement are key. Every individual in your organization should be encouraged to be promoters of change as a new shared vision.
Not all employees will have a growth mindset to begin with. “Why fix what isn’t broken?” some may ask. These presences in your company are far from malicious influences, but as it stands, their stance burdens the process and makes it harder on themselves and others to fluidly assist and adapt with the coming transformation. That’s why you must identify all natural innovators and push them to inspire the rest, organically aligning your culture into what you need.
3. Make Sure You Have the Right Capabilities in Place
There’s few worse case scenarios imaginable than fully proceeding with your digital transformation, reaching the end of the railroad tracks, only then to realize that your organization is not equipped to handle the new technologies, practices, and organization that comes with the territory. This lack of foresight could end up turning a seamless process into a years-long bumpy road.
While you have the optimal means of doing so, take the precautionary measures needed to know what needs improvement or change. Team leaders must do a thorough audit of their current team’s capabilities. Accounting for the skills your team members either know or lack informs what needs to be incorporated either by training current talent or looking for new sources of talent to complement their teams.
4. Encourage an Agile, Fail Fast Mentality
In an ideal world, you’d start the digital transformation process, finish it in as little time as possible, and never experience a single hiccup through it all. Obviously no such world exists, but there’s the second best option right behind that for you to try: failure. Embrace the imperfection that you’re certain to experience and use it to your advantage.
Digital transformation is an ongoing process where some initiatives will be riskier and some will even fail, but everyone will experience and learn from the benefits of implementing new technologies. Every wrong move provides you with new knowledge that informs your next attempt, and should the next one meet a similar fate then it’ll help the next. Failure is a step forward, not a step back. Digital transformation culture encourages everyone to take risks, fail fast, learn, and start again.
5. Collaboration Over Competition
Making a celebration over in-house rivalries and competitive spirit may bear its own charm, but charm loses its appeal when the results don’t speak for themselves. Your organization is a compilation of extraordinary talented and skilled people working together under the same roof. Pitting them against each other, intention or unintentionally, naturally or unnaturally, brings more harm than good to the ultimate goal of your organizational culture.
Success in any digital transformation initiative comes from collective efforts, interaction, and transparency across all areas and levels. If one process for one team yields tremendous results, it should be freely shared amongst colleagues, as will be paid in kind when another team encounters similar success. Individual effort is not the winning strategy here. No company achieves greatness through the sole pursuits of a single person.
Organizational culture and digital transformation are two complementary structures that provide all the necessary foundation for taking a leap forward when normally you’d only take a step. Aligning the entirety of your company’s makeup toward a single goal, prospect, or ideal is an effort of no low magnitude. Achieving this level of synchronicity, however, ensures exciting results to come, especially in the case of digital transformation.
Actually getting your organization into a place where organizational culture can lead into digital transformation is easier said and done. After all, employees are people as well, and abrupt change tends to put a halt in the everyman’s forward march. It’s important to ensure you have a clear goal in mind when embarking on this journey, as well as communicate it clearly to your workforce. Promote change across all levels, enfusing as many of your employees with the conviction and gusto primed for the coming transformation. Audit your teams to analyze your capabilities and handling of new technologies and practices, encourage an agile, fail fast mindset, and assert the need to collaborate between teams.
We at iTexico know how important and integral the technology field is and will continue to increasingly be in the scope of the modern world. We specialize in helping software companies achieve their greatest potential, either through our Nearshore outsourcing programs or through our professional, informed assistance. If you’re interested in learning more about what iTexico can do for your company, visit us at our contact page.