Building a digital culture: Organisational values, enablement of people and perfecting processes

In a recent whitepaper for AVADO, business innovation and transformation expert Martin Talks outlines his 8 step plan to build a digital culture. Here, Martin discusses three of those steps, focussing on organisational values, enablement of people, and perfecting processes.

Embedding new ways of thinking and collaboration throughout organisations isn’t easy. But it is essential to adopting true, lasting digital transformation in your organisation.

In fact, in a report by Altimeter, culture has been identified as the number one barrier to digital transformation.

The Cambridge Dictionary defines culture as: ‘the way of life, especially the general customs and beliefs, of a particular group of people at a particular time’.

Effective digital transformation can never be achieved unless you build belief in your staff that digital can help your organisation, your people and society to achieve a positive future.

Define your organisation’s digital values

Bring an open state of mind to defining digital. ‘Digital’ is far more than technology, a process or a mission statement; it is a state of mind, a way of doing things, a belief system.

A digital culture is a belief that by being more collaborative, connected, adaptive, flexible, data driven, transparent, diverse and open that we can create more positive futures for ourselves, our businesses and our societies. Every organisation’s take on what that specifically means for them can differ. But a key to building an effective digital culture is agreeing what your organisation’s core digital values are.

Your organisation may already have a set of values or beliefs. These should be considered and matched against core digital qualities like being collaborative and connected. But this shouldn’t be purely a management exercise. Include the views of your people and wider stakeholders to create a holistic and inclusive set of values of which everyone can have a sense of ownership.

Enable your people

To spur a digital culture, you cannot just perform a software update to your staff. It is a matter of winning hearts and minds.


  • Formal training in new technologies, processes and ways of thinking will help give confidence to staff and kick-start new behaviours.
  • Initiatives such as reverse mentoring with your ‘digital native’ staff can not only be enlightening, but empowering to a more open culture.
  • Facilitate continuous learning by staff through a range of resources. In many ways we need to relearn how to learn. Giving your people the means to do so in their own time will benefit this.


  • Trusting staff is not always instinctual within organisations who are used to ‘bums on seats’, timesheets and annual reviews, but enabling flexibility in hours, location and performance will be repaid with loyalty, enthusiasm and initiative.
  • Encourage curiosity and sharing, both online and offline.


  • Millennials in particular are looking for more significance in what they do. They want to know how what they do helps deliver on a greater purpose. If that purpose has a strong element of social good then all the better. Defining and operating to a purpose requires the nourishment of a culture through which behaviours needed to deliver that purpose can flourish.

Perfect your processes

Core values of digital include collaboration and openness to ideas.

  • Consider how you can enable processes that are inclusive of ideas that can come from anywhere in an organisation. Consider the wider ecosystem of partners, suppliers and customers too. This will not only expand your creativity, but provide insights driven from real experience.
  • Decisions will be required in any organisation, but get away from the HIPPO (Highest Paid Person in the Organisation) calling all the shots as often that person is not a digital native.
  • Be data driven in all you do rather than relying on subjective opinion as this will be subject to a range of behavioural biases.
  • Be agile in getting things done. Consider Amazon’s ‘two pizza team’ rule where teams should be no bigger than can be fed by two pizzas. Bigger teams can be cumbersome to manage and find it harder to come to a consensus.

This blog post details just three of Martin’s eight steps for building a digital culture at your organisation. Read Martin’s entire whitepaper: The 8 step plan to build a digital culture.

Stephanie Khan

Posted July 18, 2016