Managing Cultural Change in a Digital World - Part 2

23 October 2017 by Joan Fahey

Managing Cultural Change in a Digital World - Part 2


Joan Fahey Digital, Data, News & Views...

Hosted by Alternatives Digital Talent TeamJoan Fahey and Oran Carolan and moderated by Charley Stoney, Managing Director of Alternatives, this was the second in our series of Digital Think Tanks attended by 20 Senior Digital Leaders from a range of industries including Banking, Insurance, FMCG, Travel, Retail and Media. The topic for this session was How to Manage Cultural Change in a Digital World and the obstacles that organisations are facing today. Following on from Part 1 the 2 groups discuss the obstacles facing your business when it comes to bringing about a cultural change to become a truly digital organisation.

Group 1 Discussion

What are the key obstacles facing your business when it comes to bringing about a cultural change to become a truly digital organisation?  

Businesses are facing many challenges today when it comes to creating a cultural change and they were some recurring issues raised by the group:

1.      The word ‘Digital’ has become a bad word.  It’s now slapped onto everything - digital marketing, digital media, digital strategy. It has created a ‘fear factor’ and people are confused about what it really means. Why isn’t it marketing that is enabled by digital technology? The word ‘Digital’ has created a sense of distraction & confusion.

2.      Lack of clarity on company vision is a huge issue. Leaders must engage with their entire business with clear language and stop relying on broad interpretations of what digital is and is not.

3.      Lack of trust - we need to trust our leaders to drive the change

4.      In many cases, leaders are out of their comfort zone when it comes to ‘Digital’. They don’t understand what it means. They need to trust the ‘digital guy’s” and let them do their jobs.

5.      Changing a long-standing culture which is set in its way is very difficult.  It creates tension throughout an organisation if not handled in the right way. 

6.      Change slows down delivery and Executive Teams still expect the same deadlines to be met

7.      Bad attitude slows down everything - positive attitude can make change happen 

8.      Fear of failure and pace of change is real and can be an impediment 

9.      Staff don’t always want to take risks with their careers. People need the motivation to change.

10.  People don’t like uncertainty, they are uncomfortable with it. We need to embrace the “possibilities” that come with uncertainty. 

Group 2 Discussion

What are you doing well to drive the cultural change in your organisation?

While there are many obstacles, this group shared what their organisation is doing well to affect change:

1.      Awareness; recognising the necessity and challenge of cultural change

2.      Building a clear and simple plan – ‘Reaching for the Northstar and here are the milestones’

3.      Sharing measurable results and encouraging learnings

4.      Delivering small wins, ’It’s 1,000 small things’

5.      Communication: building a momentum around a clear vision

6.      Great Leadership: having access to a CEO who will listen

7.      Reverse Mentoring: looking for the right mix of people - Millennials and Generation X working together sharing different expertise and wisdom

8.      ‘Leaders without Titles’ – encouraging champions and challenge the hierarchy

Key Takeaways for Leading the Cultural Change…

  • It’s not ‘Digital’ anymore but doing business in a digital world - get rid of the label
  • Create the picture of your future and share your plan with everyone in your organisation: Where is your company going? Why the change is imperative? What support you need from your staff?
  • Put the supportive measures in place to help your staff change
  • Empower change agents – these are the people that will help you succeed
  • ‘Let go’ and put key people who understand digital more than you at the forefront
  • Have the right leaders on your team – who can orchestrate a lot of people
  • Remember change takes time so be patient
  • People who are facing change need to have a safe environment to learn and develop. Allow your team to fail and try again.
  • Have courage to invest in technology
  • Have empathy and understanding while people adapt 

For more information please contact Joan or Oran Carolan