Will Organizational Culture Ever Catch Up with Technology?

The pace of technological innovation today isn’t just fast. Technology is evolving at an exponential rate. While in many ways, businesses have reaped the benefits of such progress, without a similar transformation of company culture, how can organizations truly harness what’s available?

Resources, even the remarkable innovations of today, are worthless if the human ingenuity is not there to leverage their potential.

How can leadership motivate their creative teams to visualize and formulate the platforms that will be able to sustain tomorrow’s expectations?

What can business leaders do to foster a healthy culture of transformation? One that is better able to work with the extremely evolved technology that we have available now, let alone what will be in existence three months, and three years from now.

As Aaron Dignan, Founder of The Ready explains in Microsoft Office’s Modern Workplace, the power of information technology and the fluidity of access to computing power has sped up the cycle of change.

We’ve gone from the advent of the Internet, which connected businesses and individuals on a global scale for the first time in human history, to the Internet of Things, (IoT), which has injected this infinite new world into the experience of everyday living.

From industrial machinery to the kitchen toaster, every device can communicate with the endless information on the web, increasing the amount of data available and fueling change even further.

It’s not that we are changing more than we were ten or twenty years ago. It is that the exponential rate of change has caught up with us to create the extremely fast-paced reality we are in now.

From Digital Transformation to Digital Transcendence

We are now experiencing the digital abundance we’ve been discussing for decades. We’re seeing the results of Moore’s Law, which predicted the number of components per integrated circuit would double every one or two years.

And Ray Kurzweil’s Law of Accelerating Returns, which pointed out that beyond the early stages of exponential growth, the results become extraordinary. They end up transcending our existing models and processes, and for many of us, our imaginations.

Artificial intelligence is the Law of Accelerating Returns in action. AI transcends the primary facets of digital transformation – products, employee engagement, customer relationships, and optimizing operations.

It has stretched our disruptive thinking into a new dimension, disrupting the disruption. And, it has done this before most organizations have even had a chance to undergo a successful three-dimensional digital upgrade.

The innovative companies who have applied AI to their digital transformation are light years ahead of those who are still testing the waters of automation and cloud-based technologies.

Instead of just transforming your products, with AI, there can be a fundamental shift in products and services.

Take, for example, Rolls Royce’s recent transformation of the aerospace industry with their TotalCare® services, which use advanced analytics along with the IoT to uncover data insights and improve flight efficiency in ways that were unheard of before.

AI can be employed in numerous ways in-house, such as using analytics to filter your employees’ inbox or the use of chatbots to improve the employee experience.  AI and Machine Learning are also being used by numerous companies to streamline customer service, better connect with customers, and automate orders.

AI has permeated the office, the factory, the lab in countless ways, transforming the way businesses operate.

We now have data that completely streamlines the process of preventative maintenance of industrial equipment and the AI to drive our production lines. It has automated much of our marketing processes, allowing us to spend more time actually interacting with the consumer.

Artificial intelligence can predict market movements and offer better financial advice than its human counterparts. It has revolutionized medicine – we’ve been using machine learning to help discover new drugs and to construct models for testing and experimentation for years.

This shift towards ever evolving technological potential already has the momentum it needs to continue ad infinitum. Investment in AI increased by 746 percent from 2011 to 2015 – and topped $1.5 billion in 2016.

How Can Culture Play Catch Up?

Almost every industry is going to see the sweeping changes that result from the application of artificial intelligence. Even CPAs can be made semi-redundant with the creative use of machine learning, as is the case with the Vancouver-based firm, Bench Accounting.

This company has reinvented how an accounting firm works from the ground-up, using machine intelligence to reduce error, boost productivity, and reduce the cost of accounting services dramatically.

What can leadership do to facilitate a culture that can make room for this type of positive transformation? How do we not just transform, but transcend?

Depending on where your business is now, making room for a new organizational culture to emerge can feel like a behemoth task.

But, you only have to take the first step right now. As businesses move ahead, towards a more open, inspiring, and creative organizational culture, it will be possible to envision the next step, and then the next.

Start by making the space for change and clearly visualizing what you want out of your culture in the future. Then you can design your roadmap.

Once you start taking this journey, just as has been done with technological innovation, you’ll start to see the other paths and possibilities, illuminating your two-dimensional roadmap for change to reveal a whole new three-dimensional world of potential.

  • What incentives can be used to inspire your team to push boundaries and think outside of the box?
  • Do you need to bring in individuals who have a fresh perspective, new skills, or more varied experiences to inject some energy into your workforce?
  • How can your workplace processes transform? Instead of looking at ways to alter what is, consider starting from scratch and taking an honest look at what methods and strategies would be the most effective for accomplishing your organization’s goals that exist today.
  • Change, especially behavioral change, needs to start from the top. Moving towards greater equity, open channels of communication, and an environment that encourages the growth of every individual are all steps towards a culture that will be better equipped to keep up with innovation.

According to Nancy Duarte, Principal of Duarte, Inc., the key to managing a team of creative people is to take a step back to get that all important perspective – at what stage is your team at within the greater process?

When you do this it is possible to see more clearly why some people are resisting and why others aren’t. She says, “There’s power in understanding who you are talking to and where they are in the grander journey.”

Disruption Is in the Eye of the Beholder

The disruptors, the great minds that are lighting the way for all of us, they aren’t discovering ways to become more efficient, to boost productivity, to form better customer relationships – they are creating new ecosystems to achieve these goals.

They are doing this with a mindset that is capable of both accepting innovation and finding a way to use it, to bend it at will to create solutions for their particular industry.

If organizational culture had committed to transforming along with technology decades ago, we wouldn’t even be using the word disruption.

Disruptive innovation is only disruptive to a culture that is not yet ready to evolve.

To learn more visit Microsoft Office’s Modern Workplace

Michael Brenner

Michael Brenner  is a Top CMO, Content Marketing and Digital Marketing Influencer, an international keynote speaker, author of "Mean People Suck" and "The Content Formula" and he is the CEO and Founder of Marketing Insider Group, a leading Content Marketing Agency . He has worked in leadership positions in sales and marketing for global brands like SAP and Nielsen, as well as for thriving startups. Today, Michael helps build successful content marketing programs for leading brands and startups alike. Subscribe here for regular updates.