Thursday, January 8, 2015

Digital Master Tuning VIII: How to Shape Effective Digital Culture

There is no magic formula, but a sharp vision, a sound strategy and strong discipline to transform a culture of mediocre to culture of outstanding.

Culture is invisible, but it's one of the most powerful factors for business’s long term prosperity; culture is soft, but it's one of the “toughest” ingredients in “digital transformation formula.” Creating a culture itself needs a (internal) strategy. In our recently released new book "Digital Master", culture matters have been introduced systematically, by walking through a few well popular culture models helping digital leaders and professionals with in depth understanding of cultures in scientific way, also well craft eight types of digital cultures to fit the forward-thinking organizations in their digital transformations.

Culture is not something that can be dictated and followed such as a new policy or rule from management. The spirit of organization comes from the top. Not only walk the talk; leaders, believing in the effects and high value of a company-culture, need a lot of resilience, to follow their roadmap continuously. Culture has context and its relative to the group of people that follow it or share a common set of beliefs, such as specialized set of skills or principles.You cannot tell anybody what their values are. If they don't *have* those values, what are you going to do about it? That is the question confronting anyone who wants to change culture. Telling employees *why* the management is putting processes in place; what values the processes are there to support, is not going to give the organization processes that 'stick'. As soon as a person finds a problem, they will revert back to doing things the way *they* think is the right way. As a result, you should consider looking at culture through the lens of people's interaction with one another in an organization (within and across team silos) than from an organizational management perspective. A team’s collective intelligence and specialization is rooted its organizational structure, attempting to spawn a culture change at a policy level is likely to result in the opposite, while aligning with an existing set of corporate principles they already share in common may prove to be most productive. This in the end will have the effect of promoting culture change organically while reducing the stress that people have from fear of the perceived risk of losing one's job for sharing ideas.

Highly effective digital cultures don't reflect their members, their members reflect them; meaning you select team members who are natural fits. It is a culture that supports collaboration, one that is comfortable with uncertainty. Culture is determined by behaviors - how do you act/react to everything at all times. It is a reflection of the mind-set. If your culture embraces the future, inspiring others, being a customer fanatic,... then it forms the environment, the basics from which you develop strategy. Culture not only eats strategy for lunch, but without it, strategy becomes as Shakespeare wrote, 'full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.' For it is the actions, the behaviors that make up and determine the success of your strategies.

Culture is really the leader - not strategy.  Strategy is driven by culture. Yes, culture eats strategy for breakfast for culture is the framework in which strategy is held for effect benefit and growth.The problem between culture and strategy is one of focus. Culture is an amalgamation of people, their core values, their socioeconomic realities, lifestyles, and education. A company which values culture understands that each employee adds, or detracts, from company culture. The greater number of employees adding to company culture strengthens the company. The employees whose personal culture works against company culture detracts from company mission, vision, and goals. Thoughtful management will develop effective strategy which uses its greatest asset, its people. Integrating strategy with an understanding of company culture not only strengthens the company but also sets the direction for future growth. A company with a culture of integrity looks for employees which have the same core value. Company strategy flowing from company culture is intentional leadership at its best. Company strategy without integrating company culture is, at best, "using" people, which leads to abuse in the name of the good of the company.

Being “agile” is a type of digital culture. In Digital Master,” we introduce eight types of unique digital cultures, being agile is one of the significant cultural evolutions. In order to make an organization more agile, you first need to get senior management buy in, then drive them from top down across the agency, so that the change ultimately happens bottom up (if that makes sense). In order to get buy in, using agile successfully in a small team on a small project, as a POC sometimes works wonders. The most important things to get it right are empowerment, freedom to choose ways of working, making tools, training, techniques, allowing for failure. Most organizations adopt "Agile" as a silver bullet. Since silver bullets kill werewolves, their adoption of "Agile" tends to fail. To adopt an "Agile" (not Fragile) culture, it has to be adopted throughout the organization. While an edict from top might help get things rolling, it is not a solution. A number of companies with well defined values and principles are quite close to what the nine building blocks of agile are: passionate individuals, close collaboration in the team, knowledge, focus on value, close collaboration with customer, simplicity, adaptability, continuous improvement and trust.

Culture adoption happening is like a wave. Senior Management starts the wave coming into the shore, but it then has to reach the beach (bottom) before it can go back out. Senior management has to adopt first, but they have to adopt a realistic picture and not another silver bullet. Also there is is a complementary way to get new employees to INTEGRATE into a new culture quickly and efficiently. It is to provide them with a suitable and readable corporate history, which will or should cover the detail of the employing organizations’ organic experience. Given to new bloods at the beginning of tenure (when they are most receptive), it can become a very powerful tool. Secondly, included in the nature of cultural topography is so-called tacit knowledge. Tacit’s importance to cultural issues which is barely acknowledged by institutions and individuals. Only few people, including the few “old timers” who become the major transmitters of culture, typically would know how to define it, let alone be able to articulate it.

Culture is invisible, but the most powerful elements to lead organization or society's long term prosperity. And then it might be "management" whose beliefs need to change. Perhaps it is the management culture that is out of date and harming the organization's prospects. Try this Digital Master fun quiz and learn more about different types of digital culture and how to build them effectively.

Culture is the collective mind and habit, the decoded digital culture shares a common thing:    
A: Water  B: Air  C: Utility  D: Gas


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