Establishing a culture to accelerate digital transformation

May 7, 2018
You need change agents at every level of your enterprise.

It’s often said that company culture eats strategy for breakfast. And when it comes to strategy intended to advance an organization’s digital transformation, industrial companies have not historically embraced the seismic cultural, talent and process shifts that digital transformation represents.

That’s holding everybody back.

So what’s the fix? We chatted with Suzanne Burns, member of the global industrial, infrastructure and digital practices for Spencer Stuart and a featured speaker at the 2018 Smart Industry Conference, where she’ll deliver a presentation titled “Change Your Culture, Accelerate Digital Innovation,” sharing how industry leaders at all levels can serve as change agents within their organizations. Take a look…

Spencer Stuart's Suzanne Burns

Smart Industry: You’re fond of that phrase: Company culture eats strategy for breakfast. Explain.

Suzanne: That’s a well-known quote from management guru Peter Drucker, who asks “Which is more important: getting your culture right or getting your strategy right?” The answer is both. You can have the best-laid strategy, but if your culture is not right it can derail best-laid plans.

Smart Industry: Why are industrial companies historically slow to embrace shifts such as digital transformation?

Suzanne: For industrial companies to be successful they have had to take a different path. The culture that made them successful in the past was strongly results-oriented, process-oriented, operating within a discipline. That’s what they are known for. As industrial companies want to become more customer-centric, innovative and agile, they are recruiting executives from B-to-C companies to help them in those areas. The reverse is true where industrial companies are infusing talent in B-to-C companies to help with operating discipline and productivity improvements. 

Smart Industry: Are people the problem? Do people inhibit healthy disruption?

Suzanne: Disruption for the sake of disruption is not necessarily a good thing, but in order to gain long-term competitive advantages it is now a business imperative. We’re witnessing that with an Amazon or Uber coming up with different business models that change the landscape. For a business to compete in the long-term they must have strategies that are able to address these changes straight on and, hopefully, be ahead of the curve.

Smart Industry: Must everyone at every position be a change agent in order to embrace digital transformation?

Suzanne: The signal for the necessary changes has to come from the top of the organization. That executive sets the tone that ripples through an organization. But in no way is change successful without having every level in an organization embrace it along the way. You must have that buy-in throughout an organization, aligned with the strategy.

Want to network with Suzanne? Join her and hundreds of other experts at the 2018 Smart Industry Conference. Learn more here.