In these days of the hype of corporate transformation, it is easy to forget about what can be, perhaps the key primary barrier to a company’s journey towards total digitalization. It is not technology, nor budget necessarily. It is something much deeper than that and inherent to the human being.
A few days ago I hosted an IDC business lunch with a group of technology corporate end users. The topic for the debate over lunch focused around Digital Transformation and the intricate journey that many companies – large and small – must endure to get to what might seem like an ever moving goal post.
During the course of the debate, someone launched a question no-one actually took notice of, or at least, so they pretended. Perhaps because of the many discrepancies when it comes to answering.
Can you change a company´s culture in order to accelerate and ensure Transformation?
This is my attempt to try and give my very personal view on this subject.
Amongst the many barriers that we identify within the ITC industry within that Transformation journey, the need for a change in corporate culture is often mentioned last in the list of challenges companies face today. Often behind more obvious and tangible items such as restricted budgets, challenges of working with both legacy and new IT systems and architectures, or even organizational restructures.
And yet, Corporate culture is perhaps the most challenging item on the list to overcome. One that can “make or break” with even the best and most attractive transformation strategy.
Can you change a culture? Can you change something that is so intrinsically linked to individuals’ self-identity, and so ingrained in the company’s DNA as the way in which those individuals have been operating the machinery of a company for years or even decades?
Most certainly, yes. I believe so.
The task at hand, however, is not easy, and it is, in my view, heavily linked to leadership styles as much as it is linked to other factors such as providing the workforce with the best available technology and optimized tools to perform their jobs in a faster, more efficient and digitalized manner; identifying clear Use Cases to maximize the impact and success of that Transformation; or ensuring the best connectivity across the many devices and locations.
Leadership styles matter
A leadership style which fosters and encourages the use of innovative solutions, tools, devices and processes across the workforce is crucial to ensuring the success of any Transformation journey. Yet, this style has to allow for mistakes and failures on the way, for a journey where “two steps forward and one step backwards” can take place without discouraging consequences for the employees and workforce involved.
By providing a safety net for failures or a controlled environment in which to test those new solutions and processes, leadership send a clear message to the rest of the company. One of continuous support and understanding that the change in Corporate Culture is not only an Individual’s task but a wider, company one.
Most individuals would feel reassured by this environment. And, not wanting to fail, they will be willing to test new tools, processes and solutions which can lead to further innovation. Because let’s be honest, few human beings like failure. Most of us value the rewards of a successful job, the recognition and appreciation of a job that, not only is successful but also adds value to either the company or the end customer.
In my experience, too, a vast number of individuals will actually work the extra mile and put on additional effort to achieve a successful outcome if they feel they are supported by their management team, if they are given sufficient leeway and trust to allow them to make their own decisions and test new solutions, new ideas; to collaborate beyond the boundaries of their immediate teams. Hence, a leadership style that reinforces and promotes proactivity is key to innovation and to ensure the success of a Transformation Strategy.
Leadership styles can, therefore, change corporate cultures… and therefore, Transformation.
To learn more about corporate culture Transformation, or any other related topic, please contact Marta Muñoz.