Many organizations are looking at how to make their daily processes more efficient, and a primary way to do this is by introducing a new and effective technological solution. However, the success of a tech change can be supported or inhibited by your company culture.
Identifying whether your culture is a risk factor before implementing a tech change can ensure your adoption is smooth and successful.
The Link Between Company Culture and Technology Change
When introducing a new technology into an organization, many leaders don’t consider how their company culture may affect its success—either positively or negatively.
Sometimes, when we introduce new technology, people will resist the change. It’s either because they’re allowed to (as there isn’t enough structure holding people accountable)or because company leaders haven’t looked at whether their current culture will inhibit or support the change.
Usually, a company culture has been established for so many years that it’s difficult to change. In a change-averse culture—or culture in which people aren’t held accountable to change—technological changes are usually much harder to establish.
Take, for example, a company in which several departments use different systems where leaders want to implement one system for all departments to make the whole organization more effective. Perhaps the company has been siloed, with each department working in its own vacuum. A culture that allows a siloed organization will inhibit this new technology change. The tech can be implemented regardless, of course, but it’s unlikely to breed the desired results without changing the culture first.
How Do You Know If Your Organizational Culture is a Risk Factor?
Until a company culture is understood, no multimillion-dollar tech implementation will take the organization to where the leaders want it to be. Tech does not drive culture. Instead, tech implementation tends to uncover cultural aspects that will inhibit the tech to reaching its capacity.
To assess whether your organizational culture may be a risk factor to your technological change, organizational change management (OCM) professionals will conduct assessments looking at the magnitude and readiness of change in the organization.
The results of the assessment will allude to your company culture and will answer questions about your organization, like:
- Do you have history of success with change?
- Does your organization embrace change?
- Does our organization have the unwritten rules, behaviors, and culture for this project to be successful?
To this last question, anything other than a definite yes is considered a red flag.
If it’s possible that your culture may inhibit a tech change, you might want to consider doing a cultural assessment. There are tools to help with this, or you could bring a cultural change expert into your organization to work with you to make the shift.
How Will a Change-Averse Culture Affect Your Tech Change?
Culture is ingrained. It takes years to establish. It’s the way we work, the way we function. Culture is what makes a group of people who they are. On an individual level, culture is also deeply established—a person’s beliefs and support structures are all included. Culture must be looked at both at an organizational level and at an individual level.
If a change-averse culture isn’t addressed, and people don’t adapt properly, this can prevent the change from happening altogether. Additionally, if people are not ready for change, they may find ways to work around the new technology or may use it in unintended ways.
How Can You Address a Change-Averse Culture?
Change needs to start from the top. Leaders must show a level of visible and active support for a change. There needs to be a definite understanding that the company culture will adapt to this solution, or the solution will not deliver to expectations.
If it’s necessary to lead a cultural shift to ensure the success of a tech solution, people must be held accountable. If a leader has allowed a person in their company to inhibit the tech solution, the leader is inadvertently contributing to the culture that won’t allow change. Everyone needs to be held accountable.
Behaviors contribute to company culture, and these behaviors are either contributors or inhibitors to change. To achieve organizational change, behaviors must be changed on a micro level as well as an organizational level.
Culture: Your Technology Adoption Inhibitor or Contributor
When implementing a tech change in your organization, your company culture will be either a contributor or an inhibitor to the change. If it’s an inhibitor, you’ll have to address the causes, and if it’s a contributor, you’ll be able to leverage the culture for your benefit.
As OCM professionals, we have strategies and approaches to address technology integration within an organization and can outline what needs to happen to help people transition into the new way of working.