Cultural flux and the digital vortex


Digital disruption is real. If you are in a profitable market and you aren’t doing it to yourself, someone else probably already is or is planning to do it to you right now. The disruptors may not be disrupting your entire business, just picking off the profitable bits that can be easily transformed. And if you don’t disrupt your disruptors, you will, at best, be looking for ways to replace a chunk of lost revenue, which incidentally will be more than simply the revenue that you are losing, because what’s left is less profitable. At worst, you’ll be mortally wounded and looking for a new market (as many as 40% of incumbents are suffering this damage). You may be considering adapting your core value proposition, but beware of moving too soon without sufficient planning.

Organisations that embrace digital disruption will be provided with opportunities to build new business models, driving innovation and customer value in new ways. They will be able to drive platform efficiency, reduce costs and improve both customer and staff experience by reducing friction, increasing on-demand capabilities and automating transactions. These changes will produce different behaviours in staff and customers alike and drive a new way of interacting with the company.

In this turbulent environment, whilst your technology and processes pivot, twist and change around your business, new challenges and opportunities will be presented to your people. Digitisation offers new levels of agility, flexibility and insight. The ability to work wherever, whenever and however your people want can transform work-life balance and significantly increase staff wellbeing, engagement and output. This, however, is not as easy as it seems and whilst the technology elements of a digital transformation are usually front and centre, the culture of the business rarely occupies the limelight, instead being expected to adapt, even when it’s shown no adaptable behaviour in the past.

As digitisation takes hold, your business will inevitably enter a state of cultural flux. Some of your people and their leaders will want to embrace the new way of working, however some won’t, and your organisation will have to build a new strategy for leadership and collaboration that starts with the people, not the technology. A proper adoption programme can help, by placing the technology in context, giving your people the “why?” and “what’s in it for me?” as well as the “how?” But beyond that, culture will need to adapt. For instance, how can you design an effective way for your teams to be led from afar and maintain their output, when they have been used to being in the same place at the same time for the last 10 years?

Cultural change is tricky, and it’s no coincidence that McKinsey found that cultural and behavioural challenges were seen by global executives as the biggest barriers to meeting digital priorities: 50% more significant than either shortcomings in IT infrastructure or lack of talent for digital. The change needs to be driven from the top, if you, as a leader, suggest your people are able to work more flexibly, attend meetings remotely and spend more time with their family and yet do none of this yourself, then you are casting a very long and very dark shadow that will dilute the effectiveness of your transformation. An effective culture needs work from all levels of a business, and for a more traditional organisation it’s the hardest aspect of the change you will be going through. Don’t be afraid to ask for help.

Alasdair Ford

Alasdair Ford

Culture and wellbeing lead. Ensuring that Adoptt not only practises what it preaches but also imagining, guiding and delivering digital workplace solutions to our partners and customers to transform the way they work.

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