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Jan 16

“Culture eats strategy for breakfast”, a phrase originated by Peter Drucker and made famous by Mark Fields, President at Ford.

With a great culture, you and your team can achieve things you can only imagine right now. Importantly every organisation has its own unique culture that is as unique as the people that make up the organisation. Do not fall into the common trap of copying a set of processes and culture from an organisation you admire. Simply put organisations that try to copy other organisations in terms of culture, usually do a rubbish job of it, and leave their own culture in tatters and their team disenfranchised from the whole effort. Defining your own culture takes investment of both time & money, but the returns are spectacular. An organisation with a great culture is constantly ready to be agile and deliver fast paced change needed in the digital economy. Have your own culture and be proud of it, and recognises the part it plays in the success of your business, others will buy into this, and it won’t be long before others are trying to emulate your culture.

Identify Your Culture

Identify and make a big deal about your culture, then actually match your behaviours to it, you will have far happier more productive teams. Also far greater transparency in your organisation.

How culture can determine the success or failure of your digital transformation? Pretty easily to be frank, if you think about it, really consider this from other people’s perspective for a few mins. If you work, as an employee in a company that announces a digital transformation, and your view of company culture is that it is poor. Maybe even seen as unsupportive, immature or ruthless for example, how would you trust that digital transformation was not just mechanising and reinforcing an already poor culture? Why would you buy into that vision as an employee?

How do you define your organisational culture now? It is not something until fairly recently leaders were overly concerned with. I mean by no means did people ignore an overly unhealthy culture in a workplace for the most part. But now it is at a whole new level, the workforce of today and the future demands more from leaders in terms of creating a great culture. If you have not got a culture you can talk about and people can relate to, it will become considerably more difficult to retain, and certainly more difficult to recruit the top talent in the digital landscape. So however you go about it, get it defined, small consultancies such as ourselves are great at helping with this type of activity, as we thrive on our culture, our small teams are too closely knit to have bad cultures, so we really can help large businesses get to grips with this topic very well!

Talent

If you want to hire great talent again, and in the future, you will be far more successful if you grow a reputation for a great culture within your industry, it is becoming an employee expectation!

Do you know what your culture needs to be to support your businesses digital future? After you find out your current culture and define it, you’ll need to take steps to decide if it is right for digital. By right for digital I mean, that your culture is a digital-first one, that the first consideration people give to a problem or opportunity is how can technology solve this? If a digital-first mindset is not ingrained in the very DNA of your culture you may achieve some steps towards a digital transformation, but you will struggle to be truly digital, as old habits will creep back into people's thinking when tackling issues and approaching opportunities.

One of the bigger shifts in our industry over the past few years has come about through the increase in the use of open source projects. These projects collect a passionate community that believes in them, and the results have been and will continue to be astounding. If you have people in your team who are part of these projects this community is likely influencing your culture, you should embrace this and encourage it. These projects are usually deeply important to the people involved in them, and truly progressive organisations realise this and support it, it could lead to things you can’t yet imagine. One thing is certain it will certainly make recruitment easier for your organisation!

The sense of community that is now entrenched in modern software development does draw extremes, but it is far more accepted, in fact it’s the norm now for people to be involved in them. It has doubtless driven Digital Transformation, as it has made the exploration and use of new technologies far more within reach of companies, and far less scary than it used to be. Chances are people you employ are already involved in one or more of these projects, and it could turn out to be something that could radically change your business, so again it pays to have your finger on the pulse of this vital part of your company's culture.

Main points from this chapter

  • Your culture is vital, it trumps the best plan in the world every time

  • Make your culture known and celebrate it

  • Don’t try and copy and paste another company's culture because it worked for them

  • A great culture will help you recruit & retain a winning team

Enjoyed this! As a self test exercise see if you can write down answers to the following questions, then have them verified by your team. Then go to our Culture Scorecards will be pretty revealing.

What is your culture regarding:

  • Respect & Trust

  • Celebrating success, and dealing with failure

  • Reward & Recognition

  • Work-life balance

  • Holidays

  • Working from home