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Why culture and behavioural changes are critical to your digital transformation

By Marcus Lambert

As we come out of lockdown and prepare for 'business as usual', CTO Marcus Lambert reminds us why culture and behavioural changes are more important than ever when it comes to digital transformation.

Almost every aspect of our lives, business and even world-view have changed over the last three months. As we come out of lockdown and prepare to return to the office, many businesses will be sharing the lessons they learned during the global pandemic. In digital terms, as even our grandparents have embraced video conferencing, the world has changed forever.

Historically, recessions are a catalyst for invention, reinvention and innovation. These periods of uncertainty leave us with no choice but to think differently and tackle disruption head-on. Behavioural and cultural change are critical to businesses that accept that they must evolve and usher in new working principles fit for a fast-moving constantly changing digital age.

Business Continuity

Before the pandemic, digital transformation efforts were focussed on increasing efficiency, business growth, and new engaging customer experiences. But there is no point in having a shiny new website, app, and seamless online experiences for customers if everything else within your organization is unprepared and unable to cope with the demand and new processes.

For example, COVID-19 has taught leaders that their business continuity plans were drastically lacking a working from home at scale strategy. Worldwide, businesses of all sizes suddenly needed an agile workforce that was not location dependent so they could continue delivering value to their clients. In a post-pandemic world, the vision needs to be directed at enforcing business resilience that will enable rapid recovery after a global crisis. Importantly, the transformation of any business requires a widespread culture change rather than simply plugging in some shiny new technology.

Culture change

Steve Jobs once said that “You can’t connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards.” If we dare look back at digital transformation initiatives before lockdown, it’s easy to see that many were guilty of focussing more on technology than people and processes in the strategies.

The lack of companies with the ability to work from home at scale proved that if you don’t prepare for change, everything else runs the risk of being doomed to failure. The desire for change requires the buy-in of the senior management team. Convincing everyone within an organisation to embrace the unknown is a battleground that consists of winning over hearts and minds to get every employee on board.

Resilient organisations know that the only way to avoid being prisoners of their past success or failures is by continuously reflecting and learning. Once again, getting to this destination is much more about having the right people with the right mindset in place than disruptive technologies.

Diversity of thought

Every business is currently tasked with working differently to develop greater resilience and maintain business continuity. Cultural and organisational transformations will play a more significant role than technology in ensuring that digital transformation strategies are sustainable. As you re-enter the workplace, it’s time to think differently and bigger than you did three months ago.

The inconvenient truth for most people reading this is that the world is changing much faster than their organisation. As emerging technologies such as the Internet of Things (IoT), artificial intelligence, 5G, and blockchain technology begin to converge, the pace of change will probably never move this slow again. Leaders and their employees will need to hone their skills and become competent in exponential thinking to keep up.

For your business to genuinely connect with a diverse audience, it must have a team of diverse individuals who understand the nuances of the potential customers you are trying to reach. Every individual must feel empowered to make a difference in an organisation and not just the biggest personality in the meeting room. Historically, most companies failed to prioritise an open workplace culture, and this needs to change.

McKinsey’s report revealed that diversity of thought doesn’t just create a more effective workforce, but it also makes it a competitive differentiator. By bringing people together that don’t look and dress the same or have the same hobbies, your teams can begin promoting inclusive thoughts and ideas in a corporate culture fit for the 21st century.

Digital technology is not just an enabler, it’s a driver of almost every aspect of your business. But archaic processes and a legacy mindset will stop any progress you might have made in its tracks. Your corporate culture is the secret sauce that not only builds loyalty and trust, but it will define your organisation and help it remain fit for the future.

How will you transform your corporate culture, change behaviours, and enable every employee to share their ideas? Please share what you will be doing differently by tweeting us on @omobono_digital.

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