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working concretely with culture and behaviors

A while back I posted this list (below) from McKinsey showing a ranked order of challenges with regards to meeting digital priorities. Now, I’d like to add to that an initiative from colleagues of mine (with whom I also collaborate on the project) that seeks to spread solutions for how to deal with this situation.

Culture for a digital age - McKinsey Quarterly, July 2017

The initiative I’m referring to is a Kickstarter Campaign for a series of books that’s a part of a collaborative project called The Book of Collaboration. A project that is more than a book.

The need for working human-oriented

The basic premise for the project is quite depressing: Only 15% of employees are engaged… How about that for starting point when really needing to change, transform, build and all those things we need right now…

Now to the solutions. The project is based on 5 key pillars that help you ask better questions with regards to the diagram above and most business challenges. They help you work with what you can affect and not just the outcomes. If you look at the above items, they are the equivalent of lagging indicators, whereas the 5 pillars help you work with leading indicators that can actually be affected. Kind of like happiness correlating to innovation output. Just looking at output won’t help you affect or control it. Ok.

  • Reinforcing a human-oriented culture and building trust
  • Applying a growth mindset, unlearning, and learning in new ways
  • Creating effective teams and collaborating for real
  • Making everyone leaders and focusing on growing facilitation skills
  • Re-inventing leadership and organizations – with engagement as core

Leaders: mind your toolbox

If you’re a typical leader it’s unusual to you, you don’t immediately have tools that come to mind and you might think it’s fluff. If you’re an interested, great future leader, you understand the need to include this in your toolbox and catalogue of methods. I’m basing this on my day-to-day work from within, and not looking in from the outside. It’s not even debatable and it’s easy to see.

The good thing with this diagram is that the number one item – culture and behavior – indicates the realization of a human-oriented focus as a prerequisite. The challenge is still how this is done, but that’s a better problem to have. And that’s the aim of the project, so go back it if you’re smart.

Do you ask the right questions (for building with culture in mind)?

Kevin Kelly has written many good books and said many wise things with regards to digitalization, technology and constant change. Often very technology focused and visionary but always touching on culture. After all, he is somewhat of a futurologist. With his last book The Inevitable: Understanding the 12 Technological Forces That Will Shape Our Future (which I haven’t read, only pod-heard about and from) he goes into how great leaders ask really good questions. Although it’s in relation to AI and super powers that help provide answers, it’s relevant far beyond that. It really resonates well with me.

Given how digital transformation, as the figure below, from McKinsey Quarterly shows, has shifted from the more technical and concrete aspects and focus areas, to a much more abstract one – namely culture – so must our questions. Question is: have they?

Culture for a digital age - McKinsey Quarterly, July 2017

Have you asked who (or what focus) needs to be onboard besides the, so far, frequent and apparently obvious head of digital, chief technical officer, innovation officer, digital director, chief data strategist, data guru, chief head of atomic big data machine learning robot executive master etc and so on?

Have you as someone responsible for transformation work, leader or in other capacities, developed the powerful questions behind the questions? Have you developed or stumbled upon ways of understanding and approaching the problem behind the problem (and opportunity within the opportunity)?