So, what does the culture of a company capable of success with digital transformation look like?
We like how Wharton’s Dan Alig describes digital transformation: “It’s not about IT work. It’s not about the business. It’s about all of it coming together. It is about building that culture, and creating an environment where there’s continued partnership, the ability to grow together, and understand what the other is trying to achieve. That’s where the magic is going to happen.” 3
“Culture is the most significant self-reported barrier to digital effectiveness.” 1
Customers come first. Focus attention outside instead of internally. By emphasizing the common goal of bettering customer experiences, employees can align and get behind digital transformation efforts.
Decision making must be delegated. By decentralizing decision making and emphasizing distribution of ownership, employees will find value in their abilities and contributions.
Risks are not just accepted but encouraged. After all, mistakes help us learn. According to Forbes, “companies that embrace digital transformation are more comfortable taking risks than their less digitally mature peers.”4 And it has to come from the top. Senior leaders must learn to celebrate risk-taking and the learning that comes from failure.
Companies focusing on culture were five times more likely to achieve breakthrough performance than those that neglected it. 2
Progress doesn’t always equal perfection. Speed and continuous iterations are the lifeblood of progress and must be supported to keep the company moving forward.
Silence is the enemy. Transparency and regular interaction play a major role. Ongoing openness is needed to keep everyone aligned and evolving.
Goals are current and inspiring to all. To remain relevant to a wide audience of employees, industry trends and expectations should be reflected in company goals.
And how do you change your culture to match those finding success with digital transformation?
Culture change is complex and difficult. You could write a book about it. (Many have!) There is no recipe or secret formula, but those who have succeeded share common lessons learned, including:
- Honor your current culture. Before setting new goals for change, recognize your current culture and celebrate the aspects that should be preserved.
- Clearly define goals and share them often. Communicate the changes you are working towards to all employees on a regular basis.
- Let your actions do the talking. Leaders must demonstrate their commitment to change through actions and personal involvement. Model desired behaviors, and use simple, informal actions to reinforce changes.
- Make key information easily accessible. Modify systems and processes to ensure employees have shared access to information they need to effectively collaborate across the company.
- Regularly review standards and processes. Review and revise operational standards and formal processes often in order to stay on track towards desired changes.
- Encourage digital dexterity. Allow employees to grow by providing more opportunities for them to operate cross-functionally. According to Gartner, key competencies that drive digital dexterity (such as business acumen and systems thinking) are developed through cross-functional experiences.5
As a company having gone through its own digital transformation with a shift to cloud technologies and a fully remote workforce, BriteCore is familiar with what it takes to succeed. Our teams have become adept at the use of cloud technologies allowing us to rapidly implement and deploy new systems in a fully remote model. But no transformation is without challenges, and along the way we learned to embrace four key elements still inspiring us today.
- Transparency: Personal interactions, systems and access to data employees need to be effective must be available and easily accessible at all times.
- Iterative approaches: A willingness to share work in progress must be encouraged in order to incorporate feedback at an early stage.
- Collaboration: Systems, tools and approaches that enable groups to collaborate online instead of working in silos offline must be prioritized.
- Risk-taking: Tackle difficult problems before you have all the answers. Learn from your mistakes and adjust accordingly to achieve desired results.
These elements have become part of the bedrock of BriteCore’s culture. We understand the importance of adaptable cultures and new levels of dexterity among insurance organizations – a need recently highlighted in the dramatic changes in business operations and work models insurers were forced to adopt in response to COVID-19. And we’re honored that some clients have used BriteCore’s culture as a model for their own organizations as they make the shift from traditional to digital businesses.