Communication is the key to cultural change in the digital business
The old adage “a problem shared is a problem halved” rings true in all walks of life, but especially in large organizations dependent on complex digital infrastructures. Only by working together can we understand a problem and then solve it. However, times have changed. When talking about collaboration at the enterprise level, the saying should read “a problem shared, discussed and analyzed, is no longer a problem”.
In fact, it becomes the solution – a solution that benefits everyone, from the developer to the end user.
Companies these days tend to tackle immediate problems rather than planning for the longer term. Why not? When you have a digital business that is growing exponentially, it makes sense to select out-of-the-box software to meet a specific need. Plus, there’s a whole ecosystem of cloud-based enterprise resource planning systems, business process outsourcing, and customer revenue models to choose from. However, there is a downside.
Dependence on these proprietary solutions means that valuable knowledge and experience is lost to third parties. Over time, this makes it more difficult to adapt and customize solutions.
Rather than stepping out of the organization, the company must come together to develop positive and lasting solutions that everyone involved can be proud of.
Culture as a service
This last point illustrates a new organizational philosophy and strategic process known as Culture-as-a-Service, or CaaS. Over the past decade, many “as a service” cloud computing models have emerged. Culture-as-a-Service addresses the practical implementation of these solutions to provide a holistic framework that facilitates inclusion, discussion, knowledge sharing and best practices. Culture as a service helps create an open organization where ideas and collaboration flourish.
CaaS does not advocate throwing away proprietary solutions. Far from there. CaaS puts a new emphasis on investing in people and processes. In doing so, organizations use internal resources to create solutions compatible with the features they need. Augment and improve enterprise software based on the collective knowledge and wisdom of the same people who will use it. The ripple effect is that eventually the organization will have the confidence and ability to build their own cloud-native solutions. There will be a period of trial and error, but vital knowledge and expertise will develop internally and stay there.
CaaS: driving innovation
It will always be necessary to outsource certain skills. Companies need specialized help in several disciplines. However, considering how integral IT has become to the modern business, shouldn’t it be a center of innovation driving the business forward, rather than a cost center, constantly having to outsource key functions? ?
CaaS fundamentally changes the perception of IT so that it is seen as a driver of innovation. However, the transition requires both IT and business to put aside their differences and come together to start planning and building for the future. The key to all of this is finding a common language that they can use to approach and solve problems together.
Also, the discussion should not be tech-focused or the conversation will fall apart. Once a common language and framework is in place, the discussion should focus on the process and implementation, not the product itself. This is the domain of the development and technical teams. If they want buy-in from their business colleagues, they must speak in terms of the practical application of the tools.
The result is stunning. Business teams feel invested in the development of the solution, they feel a sense of excitement and ownership. So much so, they come out into the halls of the organization to evangelize and promote the solution. Conversely, it improves the status of developers within the company. This allows them to integrate with other stakeholders, contribute to new processes and help achieve common goals.
It’s the result of a group modeling technique known as “event storming” that accelerates learning and generates new ideas. Other methods include ‘open innovation labs’. Both have been put to good use at the software development level, but can be applied to solve any technical area or business problem.
The whole process relies on closed feedback loops and decentralized systems, which maintain a constant flow of ideas. CaaS empowers organizations to analyze the performance of third-party proprietary systems, then use the data to develop a new generation of services and applications based on open standards. In turn, they can select open source development tools suited to their needs and create the infrastructure necessary to create new applications.
Culture as a service brings people together, helping them realize that they are working to achieve similar goals. Once people start talking, they start sharing ideas and collaborating. This creates common tools and platforms, reducing costs and speeding time to market. Communication is essential, because it allows people to meet in the middle. Once that happens, well, problem solved!
Jan Wildeboer is EMEA Evangelist at Red Hatan American multinational software company that provides open source software products to the business community.
Read more: Three tips for creating a productive disruption culture from a Google executive