10 steps to leading successful culture change

Culture is often described as an invisible aspect of the working environment – something you can feel, but not see. I disagree
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Corporate culture is powerful. It directly correlates to employee engagement, productivity and retention. It is ingrained in recruitment efforts and drives innovation. In a 2017 study by Deloitte, more than two-thirds of global C-suite executives agreed that company culture has a critically important impact on their organization’s ability to realize its mission and vision.

It’s interesting, then, that business culture is often described as an invisible aspect of the working environment – something you can feel, but not see. I disagree.

How to lead culture change

Employees need to see collaboration in action, see good work being recognized, see the strategy path before them and see leaders being supportive. Because of this, changing an established culture, particularly within the IT organization (according to Deloitte, forty-five percent of leaders believe a high-performing IT culture is essential to success), is about more than just changing a feeling. It requires a purposeful, company-wide effort with clear direction, a robust support system and open communication. To make a transformation work, change must actually be seen.

[ When it comes to leadership, are you a mountain or a lake? Read also: 5 weird questions to ask about your leadership style. ]

These ten imperatives can help you lead a successful culture change within the IT department:

1. Align IT with an ever-evolving business culture

IT cannot operate in a silo, its culture must fit within the overall corporate culture. Before starting to implement change, ensure your path and goal aligns with the business’s overall mission, heritage, and planned future.

2. Embrace digitalization, automation, and global delivery

If you’re looking to change the clock speed of your organization, you need to be making decisions all the time and thinking, doing, and being digital. Evaluate your current infrastructure and architecture to determine how automation can be put to use to support digitalization and global content delivery, helping the business compete.

3. Intelligently leverage innovation in the vendor ecosystem

In your new environment, not all processes will need to be kept in house. A matrix visualizing core vs. context and critical vs. non-mission critical work can help determine what to keep and what to outsource. Core activities are the business’ key differentiators; context is all the rest. This model can help you streamline and drive efficiencies internally while providing insight into how you can benefit from external vendor support.

4. Clarify team direction continually

IT’s job is never ‘done done.’ We work on a 24-hour cycle, so there will almost always be opportunities for continuous goal-setting, evolution, and improvement. Regular meetings with your team on near and longer term objectives will be necessary.

5. Secure backing within the organization

To be successful, you’ll need to get other functional teams on board – from HR to finance to legal and all in between. You will need to constantly reinforce IT’s direction throughout the business, and address how your team’s changes may impact others. Visibility into roadmaps and schedules will be important. Publishing blogs on portal sites can help others see what IT has done, where its going and more, as can cross-department meetings.

As Chief Digital Officer of Agero, Bernie Gracy brings over 30 years of technology experience helping drive new product/platform introduction, client delivery, and the establishment of new software-enabled business models.


These Forbes and Harvard Business Review articles provide an alternative view on how to drive positive cultural change and profitable growth, based on what industry leaders do: https://hbr.org/2018/01/more-than-a-paycheck http://www.forbes.com/sites/fotschcase/2016/05/31/engage-your-employees-in-making-money/