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Ensuring the Success of a Digital Culture Shift

Updated: Feb 15, 2022

One of the most challenging aspects of building a digital culture are those related to the existing culture in the workplace and the behaviors of the people there. A McKinsey study has identified three key cultural intervention points that contribute to the overall cultural and behavioral challenge:

  • risk aversion

  • lack of customer focus

  • siloed mindsets and behaviors

In most cases, these intervention points are very much ingrained within the organization and the people who are part of it. With such an entrenched foundation, some businesses find it difficult to demolish such a foundation so they can build a digital-ready culture in its place.

In the face of such difficult challenges, senior leaders are expected to be proactive in shaping and measuring culture and approach it with the same rigor and discipline with which they tackle operational transformations. This includes changing elements in an organization that run counter to the culture change they are trying to achieve. This entails addressing the aforementioned cultural intervention points head on and determine the most effective way to deal with them.

The need to take calculated risks

In order to build a culture where people feel comfortable trying things regardless of the outcome, the organization’s senior leaders should break the status quo of hierarchical decision making, focus on innovating rather than optimizing, and celebrate learning from failure. It means a lot to the people that executives make it clear through their actions that they trust the front lines to make meaningful decisions. Such moves require risk taking, including aggressive goal setting and nimble resource reallocation.

On the other hand, delegating authority only works if the employees have the skills, mindsets, and information access to make good on such trust. It also helps that the information is readily available to the employees, allowing them to take small-scale risks, which can lead to some rapid innovations.

Reinforcing customer focus

While many companies often claim they intend to get to know their customers better, the digital age is forcing them to actually walk the talk and provide a better means to do so. As McKinsey pointed out, having a customer-centric culture is becoming a means of survival. But it also offers other benefits as well. For one, it can help reduce the risk of experimentation with companies able to develop product and service features in real time, with direct input from end-users.

Underlying this customer-centricity are diverse tools and data and the importance of connecting the right data in order to arrive at the right decisions that customers will ultimately benefit from. This also entails customer-centricity to become this unifying cultural element that drives all core decisions across all areas of the business. This also allows businesses to anticipate emerging patterns in the behavior of customers and tailor relevant interactions with them by dynamically integrating structured data.

Squashing silos

While some might consider organizational silos a structural issue rather than a cultural one, they are more than just stray lines and boxes in an organization chart. Especially that many organizations work through collaborations, internal and external, having some people choosing to detach themselves from the rest of the organization and refuse to work with other departments can be corrosive to organizational culture and to the organization as a whole.

In order to break this siloed mentality, leaders must show the employees that there is a sense of overall