Culture in Digital Transformation

Culture.  It’s a topic that always comes up in transformation discussions, and the conversation usually revolves around how influential culture is to enabling substantive change.  But in our experience, culture is a topic that is too often left as an afterthought when implementing new technology.  This is because:

  • Culture is difficult to define
  • Culture is difficult to measure
  • Culture is really difficult to change

It’s easy to see why culture sometimes gets left behind when an organization is making changes.  But just because it’s a tricky subject, does that mean that we should ignore it?  Clearly, the answer is NO.  The reality is that if we thoughtfully approach culture change, we have a much-improved possibility of achieving the benefits we’re seeking as we build and deploy new technologies. 

Defining Culture

The first step is to understand what culture is.  Some sources say that it’s the values an organization shares; other sources indicate that an organization’s culture is captured in what the organization does and how it does it.  Ben Horowitz defined culture as, “… how your company makes decisions when you’re not there.  It’s the set of assumptions your employees use to resolve the problems they face every day.  It’s how they behave when no one is looking.”  To see this in action, take a recent decision that you or your organization made, and then consider the process, the considerations, and the people involved.  As you start examining the details surrounding how decisions are made in your organization, you can begin to see your organization’s culture. 

Measuring Culture

The next step is to measure your culture in digital transformation.  To do this, you have to get into the minds of the carriers of culture, or in other words, the people in the organization.  The most efficient and effective way to do this is to ask your people their perceptions and beliefs about the cultural aspects that you’re interested in understanding.  Based on our work with clients, Mosaic Data Science has assembled an assessment designed to capture an organization’s perceptions of their data-focused decision-making processes, systems, and values.  Analysis of the assessment result typically identifies areas of opportunity for an organization and strengths to be nurtured.

Through a critical review of the results of the assessment, as well as receiving input from an organization’s leadership, a change management plan is generated.  The plan identifies specific behaviors, tools, enablers, and skills that will need to be updated and how each change element will be accomplished.  Communication of the aspects of the change approach and how it will impact everyone is foundational to the success of the change. A communication plan is developed as part of the overall change management documentation.

Cultural Change Management

When the plan has been set, it’s time to enact change.  Top leaders cannot delegate culture change to lower levels; it must be driven and modeled by an organization’s leadership to ensure that the desired changes take hold.  This can be as simple as having leaders model data-focused decision-making to providing that data is posted regularly in locations that employees will see.  It can also include targeted new hiring, upskilling, process changes, and investments in technology.  In all cases, employees will recognize the conscious shift towards a data-first culture and confidently move in similar directions within their spans of control. 

After many years of working with companies to increase their analytical capabilities, Mosaic Data Science understands how to help organizations develop a data-first culture. By combining our experience, our customized cultural assessment results, and the insight of an organization’s leaders, we can quickly identify, and drive needed changes to support a true transformation.

Sidebar:  What does our assessment include?

Our assessment is based on our multiple years of experience in helping organizations increase their analytical maturity.  In it, we focus on six specific areas of organizational characteristics that support a data-driven culture.  While we have found value in assessing each of the six factors, we always work with organizations to customize the assessment to relevant and vital areas to their specific business results.  By aggregating employee inputs, leaders can see how the organization views its capabilities and priorities across each area.  An example output is below.

Culture in Digital Transformation Map

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