• Oliver Nowak

Putting Culture at the Centre of Transformation

It is clear that many FSIs want to leverage digital capabilities to become market leaders in customer experience. But how much attention is being paid inwardly to the employee experience? After all, it is your employees that deliver the services your customers benefit from.


At the heart of the employee experience sits culture. Are employees encouraged to innovate, to disrupt, to think outside the box? Is there a continuous improvement mentality or is the status quo given the “it’s good enough” review?


Ultimately this culture is set by leadership and the bandwidth they give their employees to explore digital means. But if it were easy, everyone would have an innovative culture. The problem is culture is the hardest part of transformation to get right, but it has the potential to make the biggest difference. Digital is not about the value of the tools a company invests in, it’s a mindset and the investment that best moves the needle is the investment into your people.

What do the most innovative cultures have in common?

They are change-loving. Everyone within the business is encouraged and empowered to innovate. Change is ubiquitous and part of the day-to-day. To facilitate this, they have a very collaborative organisational structure. No individual or team of individuals work in siloes and a flat hierarchical supports full collaboration across the entire organisation.


The most innovative cultures are also led by data. Their decision-making processes are very customer-centric and are designed to personalise the experience as much as possible, but this is fed by the insights that reside within the data. It’s the power of the information hidden within the data that provides clues for innovation that continuously personalise the consumer experience more and more. Emphasis within operations becomes about quality rather than quantity.


What is culture?

Culture consists of visible and invisible elements. In many ways, this can be likened to conscious and sub-conscious activities. The conscious activities are the working practices of the organisation. How is the business setup? What is the core business strategy? The sub-conscious activities are the characteristics of the people involved. The values, mindsets and vision of those in the business. The unwritten rules of how to work and behave.

Where do you start?

To become digital organisations FSIs will have to continue to invest in digital but more importantly yet, they need to invest in enabling and empowering their cultures and working practices to improve the customer and the employee experience. However, this is a delicate and intricate process. Enacting cultural change too aggressively will activate the company’s immune system and reject progress if you go too fast. To be successful, you need to develop a roadmap for developing your digital culture that is signed off and bought into by your workforce.


Many organisations view digital and legacy as two different entities. Digital is good and legacy is bad. The problem with this stance is that many employees will still prefer and stand by these legacy working practices. Denouncing them will cause friction and resistance to change. The best, and potentially the only way forward, is to develop a plan for adopting digital processes that continuously feedback into the legacy working practices. It is important to conduct an extensive review of the legacy and digital opportunities available within the company architecture to create a seamless route to end-to-end digital transformation.


A good starting point is identifying those processes that are likely to represent a quick win by making a big difference with minimal upheaval. This will demonstrate the opportunity digital represents without making the workforce feel like they are out of their depth. A crucial step in achieving this will be focusing on providing the right training and knowledge transfer so that employees feel comfortable using the new digital architecture.

However, it’s also important to bear in mind that the existence of different models has the potential to cause segregation within the organisation. More than ever, it’s paramount to keep lines of communication across the business open and to communicate the reasons behind the decisions that are made. The best way of doing this is to create an organisational change management plan which outlines how the business is going to transition to digital.


At a high level, this change management plan could look something like this:

Assess Current Culture & Change Readiness→Define what your digital transformation vision looks like → Encourage Employees to Innovate on a Small Scale with this Vision in mind → Scale Successful Change Projects across the organisation → Intermittently Track Progress to Ensure the Change continues to meet its expected targets.


Digital Transformation projects have an appalling success record and I place cultural factors at the centre of this. Putting culture at the centre of your digital transformation is no silver bullet, but it gives you the best chance of eliminating friction and preventing the internal immune system of the organisation from killing off a change before it has the chance to reach value realisation. Crossfuze recognises the importance of putting culture at the centre of all of our projects and if you want to hear more about the services we provide in this area, please reach out to us at letstalk@crossfuze.com or reach out to me personally at oliver.nowak@crossfuze.com.

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