Makarand Utpat

Is Your Culture Eating Strategy for Breakfast? 7 Tips for Digital Initiatives

Peter Drucker needs no further introduction. He is known as the father of modern management theory. His quote “Culture eats strategy for breakfast” has remained one of the profound ones (among many).

This quote is equally applicable in executing the digital initiatives since, at its core,digital transformation is all about the disruption and about change.

If your company is undertaking any kind of digital transformation (e.g. Cloud Computing, Mobility, Digital Marketing, Analytics, IoT, Social Media Branding,Improving Customer Experience), it can go only so far if company’s culture is not complementary or conducive to the new changes. Even if the components of strategy are laid out, its success depends on influential leaders who know how to drive strategy and who are well versed with organization’s culture.

Understanding the culture is crucial element since the culture forms the DNA of any organization. Culture is really about how employees see their organization. Culture can create an impediment (or not) due to various norms, core traditions, and mentality.

Positive examples of culture are teamwork, sacrifices, customer service, sharing happiness etc. Negative examples of culture are “not invented here” syndrome, “we tried it in the past and it didn’t work”, “this is what we have been doing”, “it is not my cup of tea”, “we are different” etc.

Digital initiatives, at its core, are change initiatives and thus, it is important that there is a top-down mandate or top-down sponsorship from C-suite leaders (such as CEO, CMO, CFO, CIO and their executive teams).

So in essence, C-suite executive sponsorship must drive the digital transformation and they should make it a part of company’s culture by aligning it with people, strategy, process and technology elements. Here are 7 tips to follow:

  1. Applying the Zero-based thinking (e.g. challenging the assumptions, justifying new investments, facilitating problem-solving).
  2. Defining the clear intent and the outcomes (e.g. articulating the goals, communicating the value of digital technologies).
  3. Rallying the teams to make the vision a reality (e.g. building the foundational skillsets, workforce competencies, setting team expectations, new organizational roles creation, tying to incentives and HR performance compensation).
  4. Advancing organization’s branding efforts (e.g. sharing stories of leaders overcoming adversities, recognizing or talking about real people or employees behind digital transformation, personalizing marketing communications).
  5. Engaging business community (e.g. understanding their needs and pain-points, VoC, incorporating it into requirement specs and design specs).
  6. Streamlining business processes and creating robust IT capabilities (e.g. cross functional systems, CRM, data analytics, websites, email marketing, new mobile apps creation, integrating legacy apps with new systems).
  7. Maintaining an appetite for risks and experimentation (e.g. making failure an acceptable reality, pilot projects).

Overall, in order to achieve a greater success in your digital initiatives, company culture and strategy should feed each other off rather than one eating the other.


I’d love to hear from you about your digital transformation experiences. What has been your journey like? Drop me a line!

To your success!