If there is one point we try to make to clients, it is that technology and culture change are two sides of the same coin. Of course, technology leaders may know this intellectually. And yet, instinctively, when they hear terms like “organizational culture,” they may tend to brush them under the rug. It is easy to de-prioritize an abstract term like that as HR “fluff.” Despite the change management function growing in demand, change management is still almost always under-invested in. What is the result? Slower adoption of new technology, less alignment across the organization, and ultimately – less ROI on technology investments.  That is the short answer for why organizational culture is important in IT change management. 

New Technology Requires a New Mindset

Bringing technology and innovation into a company requires an actual paradigm shift for a company. This requires, first and foremost, a change in mindsets to precede adoption.

Want proof? Just remember the impact that the advent of new technology had, and continues to have, on our own lives as individuals. How our own mindsets had to change with the advent of smart phones, email, or social media.

It took some time to get accustomed to all of the additional connectivity, real-time information, and new social interactions available to us. In fact, many of us(like myself) resisted for a while, preferring the old way. Phone calls(the unscreened kind), letters by mail, reading the news in newspapers, etc. Ultimately, we caved, however – accepting the additional efficiency, opportunities, and convenience new tools provided.

And a big part of what drove us to make these changes in ourselves? Peer Pressure.

Indeed, everyone around us was using these tools, and they came up in conversations constantly. We began to see that if we didn’t adopt new technology, we would be “missing the memo”(literally). We also saw that using these tools would enhance our existing relationships, They would give us new channels and ways to communicate and share information quickly. It was beneficial to our relationships to adopt new technology.

Relationships are Key

And that is a key piece to the puzzle for companies. The problem in most companies is that teams and functions are siloed and have been for far too long. As a result of separate systems, processes, and metrics, teams have grown far too comfortable in their own “tribes”. In some cases, resentment and competition have even developed between these tribes.

As a result, most employees, especially those on the front lines, fail to see the organization as a whole. They rarely get an actual (w)holistic perspective.
So, when the company brings in new cloud technology meant to merge systems and stimulate collaboration across historically siloed teams, the results are usually — underwhelming. Because the mindset of collaboration was never developed in the first place.

Resistance to adopting new tools forms, as people are comfortable in their own status quo. “If it ain’t broke, why fix it?” They fail to see how adopting a new tool benefits functions and processes downstream. Even if they do see it, what is the motivation for making such an inconvenient change?

Thus, a key part of our approach for organizational change management relies on establishing alignment and a collaboration mindset early on. And the onus for this, at least in the beginning, is completely on the leader. The importance of leadership cannot be understated when undergoing IT transformation. Thus, our very framework is called LEADER!

Here are a few tips out of our LEADER Playbook to navigate the bumpy road of IT transformation more smoothly:

1.  Gain as much consensus as possible from stakeholders before. Prior to deploying the new tool, spend time generating awareness and buy-in across the organization. Use organizational alignment workshops, all-hands meetings, surveys, feedback systems, and active communications across channels from the very beginning.

2.  Introduce change incrementally and in an agile fashion. Avoid waste and overwhelm by introducing changes incrementally, based on the highest business priorities. For example, deploy micro-learnings and trainings in a rhythm coordinated with sprint releases. Also, ensure adequate and appropriate types of support are in place for employees and teams that are struggling.

3.  Rally your early adopters. Change is hard work and everyone has a different reaction to it. Most will be resistant to change and prefer the status quo — the older the company, the more this is the case. Early adopters are few and far between. They are the gems of the organization that need to be rallied as evangelists for change.

4.  Measure and communicate successes, big and small. Change fatigue is all too common and develops especially when employees have little visibility into the impact of changes. So, ensure that momentum is kept up through active communication of successes by leaders via newsletters, intranet, word of mouth, etc. The more innovative the communication, the better.

5.  Collect and incorporate feedback. Develop multiple systems for users to offer feedback on their experience and changes they would like to see. Actively involve them and ensure  that feedback is addressed and acted upon promptly as needed.

Does it make sense now why organizational culture is important and should not be overlooked? Get access to plenty of resources, interesting case studies, frameworks, templates, and more on changing organizational culture at www.culturecounts.io.