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Dr. Cliff Pickover, www.pickover.com

In a recent blog, we discussed Humanity and the Law of Hyperconnection and concluded that being increasingly connected to people, places and things will require greater mindfulness and self-awareness so we can operate from what is true and authentic within each of us.  We ended speaking briefly to the organizational imperative to be empathetic to the humans within and outside our corporate walls.

I’d like to take the organizational imperative to focus on the human factor to the next level.  It’s not just a good HR idea to support employees, partners, and customers by being sensitive to peoples’ need for meaningful, ‘truly’ connected experiences in a hyper— often disconnected— world, but it might be the ticket to using digital as a way of re-building company culture and driving customer and enterprise value.

The only reason to examine a company culture and management models is if they no longer deliver results.  And many, I dare say, most company cultures and governance systems are failing as they don’t support and motivate sufficient innovation to maintain growth, share, customer value.  Since most of us already know that digital business innovation is one of the main drivers of company competitiveness, why aren’t corporate cultures (around how IT and Business innovate together) adapting more rapidly in support of the digital business mandate?

The answer is pretty simple.  Most big businesses in 2016 became successful during the end of an era (1980-2000) in which hierarchy, control, and power were still concentrated and individual freedoms and choices were constrained.  This was a time when business change was not that fast.  Yet today, 80% of big companies are likely to face a crisis that damages their reputation within the next five years, compared to a chance of only 20% in 1990. The fundamentals of power have changed such that more and more of it lies in the hands of employees, partners, and customers.  Today people look for transparency, choice, and meaning when working with others and choosing brands, not top-down bureaucracy and control.

Recognizing that your best employees are one Kickstarter campaign and one 3D-printing prototyype away from creating their own startups, companies don’t just need to innovate to meet customer requirements, they have to innovate to keep employees motivated to bring their creativity to their day jobs.  The great news for CXOs is that the same digital business strategy for innovating outside can drive innovation inside and thus be used to change the culture.  The answer lies in using tools like Lean and Scrum to give people and teams within your company the freedom and tools to really innovate.  Scrum, for instance, is now being applied not just to software development but to business changes of all kinds.  The graph below shows how a Venture Capital Firm was able to use Scrum to improve output (measured in story points) to get more done in shorter work weeks resulting in happier, more productive people – who saw no reason to run Kickstarter campaigns.

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Yes, Scrum drives results for the business, creating more innovation and more customer and enterprise value, but just as important, it changes culture by increasing transparency and choice while reducing impediments like low value work and administrative bureaucracy that make it hard to feel like you are making a difference.  As more and more companies experiment with more democratic, empowering work styles in order to drive digital business innovation, they not only delight customers and make employees happier, they change the company culture and give people more time and opportunity to contribute their authentic voices.

Explore our site to learn about how our clients and others use Digital Business Innovation to turn Hyperconnection into competitive advantage.

Allan Adler, Managing Partner
www.digitalbridgepartners.com