In the last article here on the BSI Blog, I emphasized the need for a people-centred approach in dealing with innovation to solve the problems that customers face. However, people play a crucial role in innovation not only as customers but also as employees. As a matter of fact, to make the most out of Digital Transformation, organizations need ‘to be digital, not just do digital’: this results in the need for a change in what people have always thought, believed and done. ‘Thinking’, ‘believing’ and ‘doing’ are all elements that lead back to the concept of Organizational Culture. 

To better understand the problem we should start by looking at the big picture: the impact of Digital Transformation on the business environment. Yes, I know, it is a very complex issue. Nevertheless, today we are lucky, and we can summarize what we need to know in one word: VUCA. Digital transformation is making the business environment more Volatile, Uncertain, Complex and Ambiguous than ever. This simply means that Digital Transformation requires companies to change more deeply and more often. Considering that, organizations need:

  • New skills and competencies: digital technologies are able to impact how, where and when we can work (just think at the impact of smart-working) and this requires new skills to successfully manage all the risks and opportunities related to this new way of working.
  • New organizational capabilities: organizations need flexibility for a prompt adaptation to the ever-changing environment. The old hierarchical structures have to leave room for the so-called empowered teams. Just to be clear, no superheroes needed, empowered teams are teams with more autonomy within the organization but with more interrelations and accountability.
  • New Leadership: leaders must be the compass in such a dynamic internal environment to avoid the risk of a messy Babel tower. 

I know, probably you have already got my point. All the changes that I have listed are not related to technology but to people. And this is a big, big problem for companies: technologies can be changed relatively easily, but to change people more effort is needed. Look at Kodak, they created the digital camera before anyone else, but the complacent management was not ready for this leap: we all know how Kodak ended up. 

Organizational Culture is definitely a tool that innovative companies should be aware of.  Even though some people might not be so sure that ‘Culture eats strategy for breakfast’, I do believe that in innovative companies, culture should eat strategy at least for brunch (I don’t know why, but it seems that breakfast is not so cool anymore).


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