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In a Digital Transformation Journey, Culture Eats Strategy for Breakfast

Aug 3, 2022

“Culture eats strategy for breakfast,” a famous quote from business legend Peter Drucker that infers the culture of a company determines success regardless of how effective a strategy may be, has proven pertinent for those undergoing digital transformation. Those using digital transformation strategies have been able to unlock new business value and revenue sources. A positive organizational digital culture fosters a healthy work environment that attracts and retains talent, while a negative culture can corrupt an organization. A Harvard Business Review article supports these outcomes in organizational culture. Claudio Fernández-Aráoz stated that: "Any firm that wants to not only hire the best talent but also pull them together into strong and lasting teams can't do so without fostering a compelling and inspiring culture."1

IBM is one company that exudes a robust organizational digital culture. The company designs its work environment to create an open, flexible and diverse organizational digital culture that campaigns for creativity and embraces failure. It fosters innovation, allowing it to successfully execute its corporate customer-centric strategy, laying an excellent foundation for the company and its diverse workforce.

The onus is on business leaders and executives to instill a solid digital culture at their organizations. Leaders can cultivate a digital culture with the following principles:

  • Be at ease with the uncomfortable and foster a culture that encourages people to take risks, fail quickly and learn to improve their chances of success via a digital transformation strategy.
  • Support and encourage employees to look outward and collaborate with clients and partners to develop new solutions through open innovation.
  • Be flexible, co-creative and collaborative. A digital culture encourages speed and iteration, allowing quick delivery.

The most valuable resource for creating a digital culture is leadership rather than necessary technical expertise. The roles of leaders are going to change profoundly. Leaders must adopt new habits and relinquish bad ones. Therefore, leaders must understand that digital transformation will impact every aspect of their businesses, from standardizing operational processes to enhancing client and partner engagements. This will help enhance communication and collaboration—even redefining the company's culture. The ultimate leadership challenge is finding the ideal mix between alignment and autonomy during a digital transformation.


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