You Call It Digital Transformation; I Call It Culture Change
I’m not in the digital transformation business, though I know many consultants and client organizations who are in the middle of it. And Maddie, of course, is a digital strategist, so I’ve got an inside track to someone who knows the business and has done the work. Maybe that gives me just enough information to be dangerous, but I have to say, I get the feeling that the people who are deeply immersed in digital transformation seem to be missing something hugely important:
The digital part will be hard work, but it will be completely meaningless unless you do the culture change part.
Interestingly, I think that most people actually do know this to be true, yet I don’t see them acting on it. When I see articles about digital transformation these days, they almost always cite “resistance to change” or “silos” as a big impediment. But their solutions are things like making the CEO “rally the troops” and a “align around a vision.”
This is not about moving anyone’s cheese. This is about changing the way you work. That means you need to make strategic and visible shifts in your culture, so the behaviors that are required for digital transformation actually happen. If you ignore the culture and just tell them to change, you’ll fail. But if you intentionally change what is valued inside the culture, you’ll see people move in the right direction. That’s it, and there is no substitute for doing that work. You must change your culture, and given the speed that true digital transformation requires, you must do it quickly.
So I hate to break it to you, but now you have two projects to run: one on digital transformation, and one on cultural alignment. The good news is, the culture one is probably going to take less time and money than DT. But it is a separate project, with a separate process.
The longer you wait to do the culture part, the more effort will be wasted. So start today.