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Posted by Joseph Stanhope on July 17, 2012
I just finished reading Corporate Culture: The Ultimate Strategic Asset by Eric Flamholtz and Yvonne Randle. The book is based on the premise that company culture is a critically important yet often uncredited driver of success and failure, even correlating to financial performance. And, like other aspects of modern corporations, culture requires active management. Companies with great cultures don't get there by accident. The book is a worthwhile read for those with an interest in general management and the implications of culture for mid-sized to large companies.*
The book defines corporate culture as the "values, beliefs, and norms that influence the thoughts and actions (behavior) of people in organizations." The connection between cultural attributes and actions made me think about applying the concepts of culture directly to digital intelligence. Why is culture important in the context of digital intelligence? Because simply hiring people or implementing technology isn't enough to achieve digital intelligence proficiency. I see proof of this on a daily basis as I work with clients who struggle with digital intelligence despite substantial investments in the best technologies and most talented teams. These organizations have many of the individual pieces but cannot put the puzzle together. Culture is the connective tissue that binds technology, people, and action together.
To take the idea a bit further, let's look at the five key components of corporate culture according to the book and their digital intelligence implications:
It is notable that the corporate culture framework organically incorporates elements of all four strategic digital intelligence components - technical approach, ownership structure, metrics and KPIs, and optimization.
How can you use culture as a lens into digital intelligence? Putting a cultural perspective on the strategic digital intelligence components provides a framework for understanding elements that are largely intangible, that is, they are rarely visible on balance sheets, org charts, or dashboards. Use the framework to:
It's interesting that the framework described in Corporate Culture provides a convenient wrapper for exploring the digital intelligence components, even in cases where these capabilities are quite subtle or are affected by complex relationships within a company. This is also an important reminder that our success is often determined by much more than technology; the human element deeply impacts even the most analytical efforts.
* Side note - If your interests lie with startups and managing high growth companies, I strongly recommend Flamholtz and Randle's Growing Pains.
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