“CULTURE? How did we get to culture? I thought we were here to discuss what our desired organization should be — the organization we need NOW – the digital workplace”. I am paraphrasing a recent conversation with a CEO of a large retail organization. It’s like many I have had over the past few years.

The NOW Organizationis a term we use to describe the organization that is desired by its leaders. It is the organization that is needed NOW to operate successfully at the speed of business. Most leaders recognize that their organizations are running slower than the speed of business and that their investments in continuous improvement and projects to reengineer the current way of doing things have had a negative impact on the long-term ability to change the organization’s ways of doing business. Eventually, the time needed to develop, implement, and change the organization gets longer and longer and is often deemed impossible by the current leaders and left to their successors.

Enter the concept of the digital workplace. For many organizations wishing to keep pace with the evolution of business, it is a first generation solution for the NOW organization. The digital workplace is based on the recent advances in digital technologies and associated techniques including cloud, software-as-a-service, mobile, data and analytics. This has initiated another transformation in business that is changing the way we interact with customers, employees, and stakeholders in general.

As the speed of business accelerates, the life cycles of products and services have gotten shorter and the need to implement change has become more important and in particular the speed and acceptance of change must also accelerate. The outstanding characteristics of the NOW organization are the speed of its operations, transformation,  and adoption of new ways of doing things.

This brings us to culture and its growing importance to the NOW organization. Most organizations we work with have never taken the time to allow the leaders to come to consensus as to what the “desired” organization is, much less define what the culture would be. However, corporations all over the world have been showing an increased interest in corporate culture and the impact it has on their organization’s effectiveness and performance. Gallup and Deloitte intensified this interest with their surveys announcing that Corporate Culture was the number one issue among global managers in 2014 – 2015.

The speed of business is driving a need for more change, which will interrupt the customer and employee experience, unless they are a positive part of the change. This is best done by a culture that engages all levels of the organization. We accomplish this through a culture change process that we call shaping corporate culture.  Contrary to existing beliefs, corporate culture can change quickly at the speed of business when done correctly. This is why we begin most of our organizational assessments and design processes with an assessment of the organization’s culture and the core values of its leaders. Culture is what allows an organization to run at the speed of business while at the same time designing or reengineering itself for the future. Culture assessments tell us the role culture plays in the operating effectiveness of the organization. Strong cultures can go a long way in resolving inefficient processes and ineffective technologies. On the other hand, bad cultures can have a negative impact on highly effective processes and technologies. An increasing number of leaders are recognizing culture as the real secret sauce of the success of their organizations.


Next: Shaping Corporate Culture