Creating a Culture for Business Change


Why instilling the right culture from the outset is crucial.

To keep pace with rapid technology change, rising customer expectations, tighter financial constraints and more, the public sector is embracing wide-ranging digital transformation to modernise services.

Yet, despite the obvious need to do things differently, an organisation’s embedded culture will chew up and spit out any incompatible agenda for change. At first this seems counterintuitive. Why would anyone not embrace simplified systems and processes that make life faster and easier?

The answer is both simple and complex…

While time and cost savings, new capabilities and better decision-making sound great, spare a thought for what many employees experience. Without clear leadership and effective communication, staff only see the individual pain of transformation, not the overall gains. At the same time, incomplete or abandoned change programmes create armies of sceptics and cynics. No surprise then that resistance and inertia are often the inevitable results.

So, what’s the one common theme behind successful transformation? Put simply, it’s a distinct view of where you want to get to and what you want to achieve along the way.

By taking the time to establish a clear vision for the future, organisations can stay focused on the right goals and more effectively communicate the reasons for change to everyone involved. Time and again, evidence suggests that digital transformation is far more likely to succeed when CEOs and their leadership teams communicate a compelling, high-level change story that’s tangible and digestible. An evolving change narrative that is delivered through multiple channels and by diverse voices.

But, while developing and sharing a clear vision for transformation is crucial, don’t overlook the wider importance of culture. Think about the core values that will be needed to get where you want to go. Actions and attitudes need to be aligned—for instance, that could mean making failure acceptable to encourage innovation. Learning from what doesn’t work is equally as valuable as building on the things that go well.

The process of gathering information and insights to underpin your transformation strategy provides a great opportunity to engage with your organisation’s culture. Structured interviews with stakeholders, open and informal workshops, and the opportunity to comment anonymously via online surveys are all excellent ways to stimulate conversations, test ideas and achieve buy-in.

The ultimate goal is to create an engaging rationale for change, built around a compelling vision that inspires people to take action because they can see that transformation is relevant and beneficial for them too.

By aligning digital transformation to your organisation’s culture and values, it’s possible to supercharge your chances of success—particularly if you’re embarking on large scale change. Create the right climate and you’ll set your organisation up to succeed.

Adapted from ‘Culture eats strategy for breakfast’ a series of articles by Caroline Gray, Agilisys Principal Consultant – Business Change

Caroline Gray