Ritual, Culture and Trust in Digital Transformation

Had a chinwag with a friend around the water cooler lately? Sat down with a colleague in the break room for a catch up coffee? Before you settle in to work how often do you check your smartphone? Or take steps to disconnect your smartphone activities before getting down to work? These are all rituals we do every day with our devices and activities that are a part of our workplace culture. Inevitably, sitting in a lunch room will bring up work conversation.

Any digital transformation project means some part of the business is going to become highly automated and/or use technology in some innovative and hopefully, profitable way. Or cost cutting way. The goal of a digital transformation after all, is to help the company stay or become, more profitable. Because that is the purpose of a business. If it isn’t, you work for a non-profit.

But culture and ritual are often overlooked as part of a digital transformation project. Yes, there is a design process and analysts who look at workflow and impacts on the supply chain and perhaps customer value and the customer journey.  The hidden element of a successful digital transformation however, is trust with employees and the trust relationship with the technology being deployed.

In almost any new roll-out of technology, there are growing pains.  Did you know that Google or Facebook can push out anywhere between 10,000 to 30,000 updates to their platforms every single week? Do you notice them? Perahps about .05% of the time, yes. But those are usually the very big changes, the kind that get media attention and provide fodder for the pundits for a few days.

With regard to technology, rituals are the things we do every day to establish routines. Humans like routines. They give us comfort. We also like routines in how we use technology. Remember Windows 8? It flopped. Terribly. Why? Because people have rituals in how, when, where and why they use their computers. Microsoft did big changes to the top layer of the UI, then did little or nothing a layer or two in. That’s a UX recipe for disaster.

Corporate culture too is something much talked about, but it is also relevant to the technologies we use in the workplace. From social media policies and taking selfies at work to groaning and complaining about how painful it is to access this and that database and putting in a request for reports. As any business analyst and they’ll tell you, even though they may not realize they’re dealing with culture.

When you’re considering a digital transformation project, it can help to think about ritual and culture. Taking those two aspects into account can help establish trust with employees and improve the chances of a successful implementation. Okay, there’s a bit more to it than that, but I have to make a living somehow!

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