Disruptive culture .epilogue: We know we should, but culture stops us

The conference in London was extremely interesting and – of course – relevant. There is a general accept of that most companies today are lagging behind in one or more areas and that the areas where they’re most behind are the IT-related initiatives and business models. So that didn’t take long to agree one

But all this agreement made me reflect, because if we all agree that something has to be done, and even seem to know what has to be done, why don’t we just do it?

Culture. Of course. It’s fairly easy to do research and understand why companies has failed in the past and extrapolate this to understand why they will fail in the future – to be honest I don’t think many things on a general level has changed the many last decades. The products, processes and speed has, but the major reason companies fail is because they’re too slow to adopt to changes – and they’re too slow to adopt to changes because of their legacies and culture

I believe that if you don’t want to write your own company’s obituary you’ll need to get the culture to support the changes. And that can only happen with the full support from the Board and top management. It will fail otherwise


Disruptive culture .01: Performance management

Building a corporate culture capable of creating disruption is not easy and – in my opinion – close to impossible within the existing boundaries and with the existing talent. However, before even looking at the organizational structure, management roles and the talent working in the company, one thing has to be in place:

Joint performance management

I don’t believe it’s possible to make employees, that are receiving salaries and bonuses depending on how well they perform against a set of targets, work together towards something else than their individual set targets. Think about it – if you’re rewarded for doing A and reaching X numbers, would your run after target B giving you Y numbers, knowing that this would not get you your salary? No

The first step to creating a culture ready to dealing with disruption is therefore to align the targets and the performance management towards the disruptive – and commonly shared – goal


Disruptive culture .02: Remove the silos

Break down the silos. This has to do with the organizational structure itself. Even if you succeed setting joint targets and implementing performance management systems that rewards the employees for reaching the mutual targets, the common silo structure in most organizations will kick in and limit the way people work together

You would need to break down the silos (IT, Sales, HR, operations, etc.) and create a new structure, focused how the customers flows through your company. You’ll never be even near to disruption if your internal structure and processes are not aligned towards the customer journey

Organize your company in a way that supports the new disruptive way of working with the customer – assign responsible managers for the customer streams and not the individual and silo’ed processes reflecting old beliefs of vertical optimization – you’ll need to be able to follow the customer closely from lead identification over sales to product support and repeat purchase


Disruptive culture .03: New roles for management

This one is tough. Disruptive is disruptive in nature as it disturbs existing beliefs and ways of ‘doing things’. And this goes for management too. To create a culture ready to cope with disruption, you need to realize this. It’s important that you understand that management and business development probably must be separated and new talent brought in for the business development

I believe – to be very bold – that your current management should be tasked with managing the current processes and administrative tasks, ensuring the continuation of the basic and ever so important tasks of company. On the other hand, you’ll need to bring in experts in business development and give them responsibility and authority to drive the business disruption through – and I admin this will be very difficult as you’ll face a hard fight from your existing management team

But disruption is all the way through – also internally in the organization