Why digital transformation requires people to change as well as technology

It's a proven fact, digital transformation is not possible in a large enterprise organisation where legacy middle-managers do everything within their power to resist any change to the status quo. A lack of culture change will typically result in no meaningful progress.

According to Gartner, a proactive and adaptive culture is a critical asset and some CIOs will likely play a role in establishing the right mindsets and practices within their organisations. Gartner predicts that by 2021, some CIOs will be as responsible for culture change as chief HR officers (CHROs).

Organisation change management goals

“A lot of CIOs have realised that culture can be an accelerator of digital transformation and that they have the means to reinforce the desired culture through their technology choices,” said Elise Olding, research vice president at Gartner. “A partnership with the CHRO is the perfect way to align technology selections and design processes to shape the desired work behaviors.”

The mission and values of an organisation usually fall into the remit of HR. According to the Gartner assessment, the partnership between IT and HR can shed light on how IT can make technology and process design decisions that foster the intention of the desired organisational culture.

Enterprise architecture can adopt principles that align to the cultural traits, and when business analysts design processes they can create them with the intended traits in mind. Therefore, IT supports the way an organisation behaves in cooperation with HR.

However, culture change is a process. This means that there will be barriers to digital initiatives -- in peoples’ mindsets and practices. “A great way to jump-start culture change and enable adoption of new technologies and processes is the culture hack. Start with a small, motivated user group and use it to showcase fast wins and results,” Ms. Olding said.

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Change is a perpetual work-in-progress

A recent Gartner survey found that 67 percent of organisations have already completed culture change initiatives or were in the process of doing so. The reason for many of those initiatives was that the current culture has been identified as a barrier to digital transformation. But overcoming the obsolete thinking of employees is very difficult.

“In 50 percent of cases, transformational initiatives are clear failures and CIOs report that the main barrier is culture,” said Christie Struckman, research vice president at Gartner. “The logical conclusion is that CIOs should start with culture change when they embark on digital transformation, not wait to address it later.”

Why change requires diversity in thinking

Organisations today need better decisions made fast, ideally at the front line. To achieve this objective, teams must consist of multidisciplinary, diverse members with the autonomy and accountability to act and to realise financial targets. Diversity & Inclusion (D&I) is critical for the success of those teams.

That being said, D&I initiatives will only contribute to business results if they are scaled properly and actually reach frontline employees. Enterprises often overlook extending D&I programs, such as unconscious bias training, to frontline employees.

Numerous technologies can enhance the scale and effectiveness of D&I programs, such as by diagnosing the current state of inclusion, developing leaders who foster inclusion and embedding inclusion into daily business execution.

D&I initiatives are an area where CIOs and CHROs can cooperate easily and effectively. For example, CIOs can champion empowerment behaviors, as they already gained a lot of experience with agile development and product teams working together.

Raise the bar of expectations to achieve real change

CEOs must force the required internal collaboration across their leadership team, and remove those people with closed minds. Some people will never change, unfortunately.

The IT department must partner with HR to set up progressive programs for monitoring, measuring and enhancing the inclusion of people with open minds that embrace change. Gartner research shows that meaningful inclusion strategies can improve performance by over 30 percent in diverse teams. Raise the bar of expectations; achieve real change.

Interested in hearing industry leaders discuss subjects like this? Attend the co-located IoT Tech Expo, Blockchain Expo, AI & Big Data Expo, and Cyber Security & Cloud Expo World Series with upcoming events in Silicon Valley, London, and Amsterdam.

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DanielBuinac
11 Mar 2019, 8:44 a.m.

Hi David,

Great article! Gartner also states (the same report, I believe); "By 2021, 80% of midsize to large enterprises will change their culture as a way to accelerate their digital transformation strategy." So, hopefully, the message will be taken seriously by enterprises.

I'd like to invite you to check Digital Transformation Hub (www.dxlatest.com) and see if you'd be interested to contribute. Also, please feel free to connect at LinkedIn.

Regards,
Daniel

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