12 February 2020 | 0
The big thing in digital transformation has been the realisation that the cultural change necessary for real transformation is far more important than the technology.
Company culture is one of those fuzzy intangibles that technologists are often oblivious to and for which everybody has a different definition. Culture is embodied in the staff of an organisation and could be defined as how an organisation approaches life, its outlook, its behaviour. For example, if an organisation is helpful and pleasant to callers to its call centre or if the caller is regarded as a nuisance to be tolerated and mocked for their lack of understanding, it is an expression of cultural values and not a consequence of a technological implementation.
An organisation’s culture consists of a set of a tightly woven and interrelated objectives, processes, roles, values, communications practices, attitudes and assumptions. They are typically so interrelated that changing any one or two of these is a short-term success at best as the remaining cultural elements conspire to undermine and ultimately undo any changes that have been made.
It is patently the case, therefore, that the introduction of DevOps, CI/CD and most other technical innovations can only be a supporting cast to the main performance which is cultural change.
Cultural change is a pull, not a push. It begins with leadership, creating and communicating a clear vision of the future. Vision can then be grounded in action through management tools, such as role definitions, KPI measurement and feedback, and set on a base of incentives and enforcement. CIOs can provide the leadership. Through appropriate methodology selection and tooling, they can support the management but the main thing they can do is select the team and inspire them in the journey.
In Tekenable, we believe in digital evolution not transformation. Cultural change is a journey of many small steps and does not align well with large scale IT transformation programmes aiming to change everything overnight. Evolution brings the culture along the journey with the technology.
Peter Rose is chief technology officer of Tekenable