In a recent publication entitled ‘It’s Not a Digital Transformation without a Digital Culture’, the Boston Consulting Group state ‘like any major transformation, a digital transformation requires instilling a culture that supports the change while enabling the company’s overarching strategy’. As organisations navigate through the complex pathways to digital transformation, priority is primarily given to both the technology and processes that support this. And rightly so in the majority of cases. With the best will in the world, however, nailing these two elements in isolation is unlikely to dictate success. And this fact is all too often overlooked within the context of an overall digital transformation strategy.
Focus within the digital transformation process is often placed upon the move away from legacy systems and business process which hinder innovation, speed and agility, and these should indeed be the primary motivators to change. However, what has always been key to the success of any organisation is its people. It’s not enough to embrace new technologies and to keep up with the fast-moving pace within the digital landscape, as traditional ways of working will often be incompatible with the target state. The organisation must invest time in bringing its people along with them on this journey, through implementation of an associated culture which focuses on empowering them to be creative, collaborative and ultimately successful within this new environment.
The results of a recent catalyst project, run by tmforum, include culture (alongside strategy/operating model and data) as one of the key drivers of success to digital transformation and define the associated steps as leadership alignment to cultural change, alignment of business functions with desired outcomes, having a common language of impact, mobilising the right people at the right time and promoting an environment where everyone is empowered with a focused, collective energy. Alongside transformation of the process and technologies that support the business, it is essential that the organisation both implements and lives a transformational mindset and provides their people with the tools to support them in this environment.
Whilst changing company culture is never easy, with clear goals, a strong supporting methodology and consistent effort, it can be achieved. The key to realising the benefits that both embracing and embedding a digital culture bring is to start with articulating, in a clear and concise manner, what needs to change. From there, an assessment of the current organisational culture against the target culture will provide a view of the relevant gaps and how these may be addressed. These activities in isolation, however, are not enough – getting, and keeping, employees engaged along the journey is crucial. The creation of an environment where people are encouraged to think creatively and to challenge industry norms, in addition feeling nurtured in order to support these behaviors, will reap rewards in the longer term. Lessons learned from those telcos who are successfully progressing on the path to digital, support this – having an authentic program that spans all areas of the organisation adds credibility and acts as a flag that people can follow. As crucial as the technology is, knowing where you’re going is the key to effective execution.