How to leverage technology for positive and lasting cultural change
If ever there was a time to rethink your organisation’s culture, it’s now.
As employees continue to adjust to new ways of working, we see COVID’s impact on engagement and productivity in most sectors. But many digital strategies lack the innovation and ambition that could transform how an organisation engages and operates.
So, how can you use this time of change as a catalyst for meaningful, lasting improvement? How can you use technology to aid efficiency and productivity? And an even bigger question; how can technology inspire your people and increase engagement?
Here, we list nine steps to kickstart cultural transformation in your organisation, along with real-life examples of how other companies are doing this.
Understand what your digital strategy truly means for your organisation
Many digital strategies focus on replacing office-based and manual tasks, or they’re exercises in saving IT costs. Much of this thinking is short-sighted and fails to empower workforces with the digital capabilities that are here for the taking. To avoid this common trap, reflect on the short and long-term goals of your digital strategy.
We engaged with a luxury hospitality client to enable them to explore new ways of working. And crucially, we were keen to dive deeply into why they wanted them. What were the desired tangible outcomes? And how could they drive urgency in their transformation?
This approach resulted in strong buy-in from leadership, which in turn helped foster engagement with front line staff. It drove a technology programme that was meaningful and mattered to everyone because they all felt part of it from the beginning.
By putting the ‘why’ questions to your stakeholders, you’ll acquire valuable input and perspectives. Their answers will shape a meaningful digital strategy rooted in an understanding of the desired cultural changes.
Align your technology with your challenges and culture
Any technology solution can solve a problem. But without taking the time to understand all the challenges your organisation faces, introducing another piece of tech could inadvertently cause disruption and impact productivity.
A financial services client went through a merger, which presented obstacles to productivity and clashes in culture. They wanted to understand how best to implement a change programme, both technically and operationally.
We helped their leadership team to articulate the challenges and foster transparency and ownership across the organisation. We also meaningfully engaged with people throughout the business, empathising with current ways of working to create a synergy and understanding.
And we formed diverse working groups across all areas and hierarchies, which began building trust and camaraderie. Consequently, new relationships were cemented, which assisted the business in defining their culture and adopting technology with purpose.
Ultimately, the financial services business was able to accelerate its change programme, and today is working as one.
Identify the right technology for your organisation’s future success
You probably have a shortlist of the technologies that will best serve your organisation. Chances are they’ll address your pressing problems. But are you confident they’ll meet your long-term needs?
A large financial services organisation engaged us to rollout Microsoft technologies alongside other SaaS applications. Following our change impact assessment, it was plain the organisation’s people were suffering from change fatigue.
But because the company’s existing technology was going out of support soon, it was a case of needs must. So, to avoid resistance and deliver a sustainable change, we took these three steps:
- Examined the chosen technology’s roadmap. The exercise provided a clear view of its evolution and flagged any early warning signs that the organisation’s requirements may supersede its capabilities.
- Identified the technology’s benefits in the context of the company’s challenges. This provided a transformation programme that people cared about and could engage with.
- Curated a compelling narrative that demonstrated how the technology would serve the organisation in the long-term to win hearts and minds.
If you can complete these steps and remain confident in your chosen technology, you have another building block to transforming your culture.
Evaluate your current state
Before kicking off your cultural transformation plan, assess your company’s existing state. You’ll want to work with your leadership teams on this.
Your organisation will fall into one of three distinct states: reactional, transactional, or strategic. An honest evaluation of your current state will tell you how much effort your transformation will take.
We encounter organisations that assume they are in a strategic state when, in fact, they’re reactional. And unfortunately, we’ve seen the consequences of this. Typically, their transformation programmes had minimal take-up by disengaged workforces, leading to wasted efforts and change failure.
Timing the delivery of your transformation is crucial to a successful cultural change. Once you can confidently say your organisation is at a strategic state, you’ll be ready to start transforming your culture.
Identify your Force of Change (FoC)
The Force of Change (FoC) is a proven concept created here at Content+Cloud headquarters. It saves a massive amount of time by pinpointing precisely how you can best drive change in your organisation.
The FoC model identifies four specific components – tailored to your business – for:
- Implementing change effectively
- Managing change successfully
- Getting strong buy-in across your business – typically the trickiest part
- Transforming core behaviours
Using the FoC model puts speed and urgency behind transformations. To see how you can follow this model, keep reading.
Prepare to manage change and support your users
Assemble a diverse working group, so that all parts of your business, and employee personas, are represented.
Alongside change management specialists (and if you need us, we can help) rally stakeholders from IT services, HR, and long-standing employees. Your diehards will understand your journey to this point and can navigate the networks and machinations in your business.
We worked with a global media agency to do just this. All parties got the need for change and were involved in the project so that it met their various requirements.
Empowering the users gave the change programme both visibility and credibility. The agency’s workforce was excited, engaged, and looking forward to the benefits.
Taking your users with you will amplify your efforts to transform culture. And a people-centric approach will equip you with an understanding of how best to support everyone on your journey of transformation.
Define a long-term cultural programme and anchor it to your corporate strategy
If your cultural programme will last less than a year, it isn’t a transformation programme; it’s a reactional and transactional initiative. While this will yield results for a short time, the likelihood of repeating the cycle in 12 months is high, meaning a low ROI in time and money.
Our automotive client aligned their cultural transformation with their corporate strategy. And because they did, their staff instantly gravitated towards the change. Their people understood why the technology was necessary and how it reflected the desired working behaviours.
Use your anchor to create a meaningful culture programme for your organisation. It will give your change programme a strong foundation for the culture you seek, and a reason to keep reiterating the message.
Demonstrate new ways of working to drive changes to behavioural patterns
In most cases, seeing is believing. To achieve the genuine value of your cultural transformation, you must lead by example. And who better to demonstrate the right behaviours than your leadership team! Getting them onboard may be tricky, but if you’re forearmed with your FoC, it should be a natural step for them.
Our global legal services client wanted to leverage the influence of their senior partners but getting the time of these busy individuals was a challenge. So, we supported their efforts by creating spotlight sessions. These short, punchy sessions showed the partners how they could change their personal ways of working to improve productivity and collaboration.
The spotlight sessions encouraged the leadership team to sponsor the change and helped them engage with the new technology too.
The lesson here is to identify your ideal community; the people who will demonstrate the value the tech brings and encourage users to adopt the desired working behaviours. And don’t forget to regularly review your change programme to ensure it’s hitting the mark.
Encourage and reward innovative thinking
Positive reinforcement is crucial to ensure that the behaviours and patterns necessary for cultural transformation are repeated.
Reward blue-sky ideas and showcase the benefits of thinking innovatively. Utilise the brainpower of your entire organisation by creating a hub for sharing ideas. Pick a few that can be scaled across the business and celebrate them.
We engaged with a luxury department store to implement their new technology. With support from HR, we created annual awards that commend innovation, individual contributions, and change champions. The rewards provide an incentive for going above and beyond and keep the workforce engaged with the programme.
This approach will lead to greater employee engagement by generating a sense of excitement, connectedness, and parity. Jim in accounts or Amarjot in customer service will have the same chance of recognition as your FD or CIO.
There you have it! The nine steps to transforming your culture through technology.
If you’d like to learn more, you’re welcome to contact us. Our change management team and business strategists relish getting to know new organisations and sinking their teeth into problems. And our approach is highly collaborative – learn more about how we’d work with you.
You can also tap into a wealth of resources from our Digital Revolution Live event. The online event includes a session I co-hosted called ‘How to Inspect and Adapt Your Tech Implementation After the Emergency Lockdown’. Click here for your all-access pass.
And if you’d welcome some free, tailored assistance to help you on your journey to cultural transformation, then why not request an Art of the Possible session? Click here to learn more or on the button below. But please hurry, places are on a first-come, first-served basis.
Thanks for reading, and we hope to have the opportunity to work with you.