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Many companies today underestimate the importance of culture or do not fully understand it. Sure, it thrives on the social aspect of an organization, the collective attitudes and the "vibe" – but that's only half the story. There is also culture in business. The work culture is the reason why people love their actual job. To the outside world, a company can seem like a great place to work while the job is full of tension and anxiety, and this is where we need to be more specific.
When companies grow organically, that growth is usually accompanied by a variety of technologies that enable employees to make better decisions, faster. On paper, this is a recipe for success for both the company and its culture: a company that empowers its employees to make better data-driven decisions creates a more collaborative and impactful workplace.
Except in the real world, it doesn't really work.
Most of the organic growth is unpredictable and unplanned. The Covid-19 pandemic has tested the ability of companies to cope with rapid technological development and we have seen the gaps that it has created. With the accelerated transition to Digital First, businesses of all sizes were forced to overnight evolving decentralized, digital cultures, incorporating new tools, new API ecosystems, new data analytics platforms, etc. in order to survive.
Now more than ever, employees can make data-driven decisions. However, this has created an unexpected paradox. With multiple sources of data available, no one is using the same data, which results in teams drawing very different conclusions about the same problem. The cross-company data exchange is increasingly hindered as individual or group-wide data silos take shape and companies have difficulties finding a common basis.
Similar: Redesigning your company for the digital age
Speed up or slow down?
By and large, the need to make the digital leap has been good for companies. The more companies use technology, the faster they can move, and that's ideal. In a 2014 book titled How Google Works, former Google CEO Eric Schmidt shared that the tech giant's success relies largely on its ability to outperform its competitors in manufacturing.
But why should the data and decisions be linked? What can serve as an effective nexus or central hub? Conveniently, Schmidt left that out of the book. However, Jeff Bezos and Amazon are picking up where Schmidt left off, claiming that the goal should always be to "start with the customer and work backwards."
Allegedly, these two points are the secret to unlocking the enormous digital success of tech giants like Google and Amazon. They exchanged real-time data on customer behavior across the company.
When everyone has access to the same data, companies can reinvent their corporate culture around a common view. This opens the organization to more innovation and risk taking, but in a controlled, iterative manner. It is the central, cultural component for quick action that enables teams to act in an agile and focused manner and to respond to customer needs when they arise.
Similarly, why digital transformation is more about people than technology
Take a customer-centric, ongoing approach
Business and IT teams often collide or are misaligned because they have created tremendous complexity and data silos. What is needed is a way to reconnect the data and decision making because if everyone wins for themselves, no one wins together.
By incorporating methodologies like Continuous Product Design (CPD), organizations can overcome these cultural barriers of information complexity and the silos that slow them down. CPD brings customer signals into every step of the digital lifecycle, bringing business and IT teams together so they can agree on a single version of the truth. With a real understanding of the drivers, behaviors and expectations of customers, digital cultures become fast, aligned, customer-centric and even more entrepreneurial.
The pandemic has forced us to rethink the way we work, how we interact with our customers, and how we build a culture for both remote and face-to-face interactions. The situation requires a company to create its culture from the way it works. To make it meaningful, that culture needs to be part of the business venture – providing customers with the best possible experience and products.
It is important that large companies act deliberately to balance a culture of discipline with a culture of creativity so that they do not destroy the entrepreneurship that drives digital innovation. The companies that can handle all of this will lead their industries into a new era where great digital products will be quickly and perfectly tailored to customer needs.