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Digital culture

Designing a digital culture

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There’s little doubt you’ve fully integrated the digital revolution into your daily life. You’re likely reading this blog while you have a few other tabs open (and we bet you’ll respond to at least one Slack message before you’ve gotten to the end). While we’ve embraced digitalization in our day-to-day lives, some organizations have had a slower start. And that’s a problem because a lack of digital culture will place your business firmly behind its competitors.

We’ll explain essential components to designing a digital culture, exploring the beginning phases of creating a digital culture and the importance of strong leadership in a digital culture.

Important components of a digital culture

What is a digital culture? It’s incorporating digital solutions at every level within the organization. And here’s why you should do just that:

Build cross-functional teams - Without digitalization, working in silos is the de facto method of getting things done because it’s often difficult to get ahold of other teams. Sure, you can send emails, but those are easy to ignore. And even if the other team is in the same building, that means tracking team members down between meetings and days off. The result is a team that, instead of functioning like a country, functions like individual states. 

Agility and flexibility to adapt to changing demands - One of the biggest benefits to adopting a digital culture is the ease of augmenting process. A culture stuck in one process will simply be left behind in a rapidly changing market. But in a digital culture, it’s easy to quickly change processes and see the ripple effects across the organization.

Customer-centered - A digital culture allows you to keep up with the latest technology trends. And that’s simply what customers expect. For instance, during the pandemic, restaurant customers began expecting QR code menus. These menus can be easily updated every day and alleviated the burden of having to sanitize physical menus. Without being able to easily incorporate QR menus, some restaurant groups began to lose out to their competitors. 

Use collaboration tools - A digital culture places emphasis on collaboration tools that allow businesses to produce higher quality work with greater efficiency. Collaboration tools are also a great recruiting aid—many employees look for employers that incorporate the kind of tools that would allow them to work remotely without feeling out of touch. 

Employees should feel like they have purpose and are making an impact - A traditional culture is not transparent. Employees are trusted to do great work on their own, but news of that work rarely trickles upward. In a digital culture, work can be seen by everyone and traced back to its contributor. That makes it easy to see who’s doing what. For instance, in a shared Google document, edits are visible the entire time.

 

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Steps to building a digital culture

Now that you understand the importance of a digital culture, it’s time to get started building one. Here’s how:

  1. Define digital expectations and priorities

Start with senior leadership by creating policies, plans, etc., then move down to individuals and teams who will be adopting new technology. 

Senior leadership and others in managerial positions should actively encourage employees—no matter their seniority level—to take initiative in bringing new ideas to the table and not be afraid to utilize digital tools that encourage collaboration and creativity. 

In order to do this, senior leadership must establish clear expectations while also incorporating incentives so that employees are motivated and want to share the same mindset of growth and accomplishment. To cultivate a strong digital culture, standards and processes must be set at the senior level so that procedures regarding security, sensitive data, legal, risk, and public relations issues can be accommodated as the company continues to introduce new technology and tools for employees to use. 

Leadership should take a top-down approach, but also be focused bottom-up to help employees know they are valued. While leadership should be driving digital adoption, each employee should be looking at ways to drive innovation in their own role, since they’re the ones most hands-on day to day.

  1. Asses where the company currently is and where you see it in the future

Invest in technology that enables employees to learn new skills and collaborate in remote locations. In order to create a digital culture, employees should have access to workshops, training, and technology that will allow them to continue to build upon their skills and contribute to accomplishing digital-focused company goals.

Continue to revisit processes and ask for employees feedback and help to improve them. Consider sending out sporadic surveys or incorporating “digital ideas” into weekly meetings.

Enable employees through training of new technologies and processes and facilitate continuous learning. If employees aren’t comfortable using technology, they’ll avoid it or not use it to its full capacity. Employees should feel ownership over digital tools so they can incorporate them into daily processes and also come up with innovative ways to utilize tech.

A digital culture requires human interaction, too. Encourage employees to take breaks, spend time doing things they enjoy to recharge, and promote a healthy work/life balance.

A digital culture is an ongoing process—it’s not one-and-done. Your digital culture should continue to be cultivated with the changes the company undergoes over time.

Develop leadership that supports digital culture

Your initiative to implement a digital culture will fail if it is not driven by leadership. With that in mind, you need to take clear steps to foster a leadership team that thinks digital first. Here are the core competencies of a leadership team that takes a digital-first approach:

  • Openness to ideas- Your leadership team should not only be thinking of ways to incorporate digital processes, they should also encourage ideas from everyone throughout the organization. If their initial response is resistance, there’s an issue.
  • Transparency- Is your leadership team communicating its commitment to digital culture? Is it routinely sending out emails, etc. about new solutions? If not, it’s time to take a look at your team’s transparency.
  • Lead by example- If your leadership isn’t on Slack or Asana or any of the tools it espouses, why should your team bother using solutions? The biggest driver of digital culture is a leadership team that takes digital ownership for themselves. 
  • Data-driven- Measurement should be a top priority. This is important to ensure the incorporated tools are actually adding efficiency instead of only adding complications.
  • Alway learning- New tools come onto the market every day. Your leadership team should be looking to simplify and stay on the cutting edge of digital tools at least on a monthly basis. They can partner with members throughout the organization to help them stay abreast of current trends and routinely sign up for beta launches of new solutions. They should also make a point to attend conferences and trade shows focused on digital culture solutions.
  • Communication- One of the primary benefits to a digital culture is one that increases communication. Think of it: there was never a way to send a direct message to a C-level before. Now, it’s as easy as a quick ping.

Designing a digital culture should be scalable and will not happen overnight. Senior leadership and executives must carefully consider changes they make in the company and define digital expectations and priorities so that employees see the same vision.

Digital culture

Now that you’re thinking about your organization’s digital culture, get ready to set some goals for your digital transformation.

Find out how

Now that you’re thinking about your organization’s digital culture, get ready to set some goals for your digital transformation.

Find out how

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