Success through digital culture

leadership development management

If the digital culture is not “lived” in the company, this is rarely due to a lack of digital skills. In our experience, there is a lack of openness and willingness to change in most cases. If the corporate culture (obviously or implicitly) blocks the progress of digitization, even the best strategy on paper will not help. The culture carries the change to success. In change projects, it is worth developing them right from the start.

A large number of digitization projects fail because the organisational culture was not actively developed for the upcoming change. Rigid hierarchical thinking, fear of change or a lack of identification with the vision can become stumbling blocks on the way to the goal.

The prevailing values, attitudes and norms are not obvious in many companies. They have emerged unconsciously over the years. In medium-sized companies, they tend to be traditionally oriented. Your digital vision is in the starting blocks? Time for a cultural change. This requires a common, clearly communicated cultural vision. If you involve your employees, identification and motivation are the result. The common path is the goal: create awareness that such a process does not happen overnight.

In relation to digitisation projects, cultural development should be seen as a building block equivalent to the optimization of processes and the development of internal competences. It is crucial to include the cultural aspect right from the start or ideally even before the start of the project.

Fields of development of digital culture

What distinguishes a successful digital culture? In the “Culture First! study,” qualitative interviews were conducted with 20 pioneers of digital transformation to examine which cultural guarantors of success promote digital transformation. Eight cross-company features were found:

Cultural environment that promotes customer orientation

Customer requirements are becoming increasingly dynamic. The quality of the response to these dynamics is decisive for the success of a company. A corporate culture that is highly customer-oriented has a clear advantage here. It focuses on close dialogue with the customer, but also creates an environment that enables employees to react immediately and individually.

Digital technologies and digitized processes

The digitization of processes and the use of new technologies are core aspects of digital change. The goal is a culture that is open to new ideas, in which all participants are valued and in which appreciation is expressed. Create space for discussions and the exchange of ideas company-wide and across hierarchies.


The only constant is change. This is rapid and disruptive in the digital age. Digitalization demands constant adjustment and the searching, walking and discarding of new paths. In these conditions, employees can act best when they have discovered their own entrepreneurial spirit. Encourage risk-taking, create an appreciative culture of error and see failed initiatives as part of progress. Your management level serves as a role model.


Introduced agile methods and procedures cannot achieve their intended effect in rigid processes and a traditionally oriented culture. Willingness to change, individualism and interaction must be “lived” both internally and externally in the corporate culture.

Digital Leadership

Digital leadership is characterized above all by strong trust between managers and employees. The manager has a feel for his team and its talents. He himself is a role model, clearly communicates the digital vision and exemplifies it. This does not mean that he has to be familiar with all digital technologies. With his own openness to new ideas, he can break down the fears and barriers of his employees.


A central aspect of digital culture is the way it works across divisions and hierarchies. Departmental thinking is a thing of the past. Especially medium-sized companies can take advantage of their often fluent divisional boundaries.

Autonomous working conditions

In a digital corporate culture, the initiative and independence of employees are encouraged. They are given scope within which they can work freely and responsibly towards a set goal. Flexible working models and working hours as well as the choice of the place of work increase the self-management and motivation of the employees.

Learning and innovation

Create a creative environment in which your employees feel secure. The willingness to learn increases when mistakes are allowed. Innovative ideas emerge when they are not assessed exclusively according to risk. As employees grow, so does the company’s success.

Published by Dave John

Decade of work experience in leadership consulting with strong focus on talent acquisition & assessment across different industries and geographies.

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