The Essence Of A Digital Culture Part 1

 

We were incredibly lucky to host a Buildathon earlier this year in our Digital Transformation Centre.  One of our visitors (a global senior exec in the company) described our Centre as walking into a ‘Digital Disneyland’.

I took this as a great compliment !

We have been working over the last few years to really understand what it  means to have a digital culture and I think we’re very close to having nailed it.

It hasn’t been easy to get where we are today, especially when we have been part of a much bigger corporate machine, but there are a few key things that have made it possible.  I’ll explore a couple of ideas and principles we used to build amsuccessful Essence of  a Digital Culture…

Think Small, But Be Big …

Despite being part of one of the biggest IT companies in the globe, we started to think and behave as though we were a start up.  We were very insular, looking within the team to really figure out what we were trying to be. Even though we are part of a mega corporation, in today’s Digital IT market our competitors are more than likely to be a small software house than one of our traditional rivals as we started to think and behave like a start up.

This approach helped us go for some of the work that in the past our sales organisation would have turned their noses up to.  We didn’t mind going for a small 6 week project as we knew that when our clients saw what we could do they would want some more.  We needed to build our reputation as a digital company as our traditional market was in large scale infrastructure programmes and mega deals. One of our first projects started as 2 people looking at some blockers and now we have grown to 4 scrum teams for that client and have been delivering on new and exciting opportunities for them ever since.  They now consider us their partner in developing their digital road map and have absolute confidence in what we can do to support the transformation of their business.

Listen To The Teams

Although we had been operating under Agile and Dev Ops for a few years, we really started to crack the Digital Culture when we started to listen to our teams.

We held a deep dive focus group session and basically asked a number of our more vocal and opinionated team “what can I do for them to make them more effective in their role, happier at work and feel engaged within the team?”

There were the obvious salary, bonus responses, but we also obtained a wealth of valuable information from those sessions covering everything from training, tooling, creating an inspiring environment, innovation, technical and business partners, social and community, leadership and communications.

I took the output, categorised it into work streams with various actions in each work stream backlog relating to the feedback in the teams and created a programme called ‘Making The Digital Transformation Centre Real’.

Each action was given a RAG rating and reported on at each of the bi-monthly Centre Uber Scrum (large team cascades).  All of our successes, progresses and blockers were made visible to all of the team and they could see, very clearly that we were listening to them.

We had some quick and cost free wins …

  • set up a Kudos board
  • set up an ideas board
  • contact our teams preferred technology /tooling companies for free software and training – thus creating real technology partners verses the corporate strategic partners we didn’t have any contact with
  • develop and publish a comms plan and have regular ‘uber scrum’ meetings
  • give the team freedom to use best in class and often free software and tooling
  • run knowledge sharing lunch time sessions developed by our own in house experts
  • create a practical mentoring environment
  • engage with subject matter experts in our local ecosystem to support our lack of niche expertise
  • engage within the local community to support STEM activities in local schools, get involved in charity events, develop a relationship with all of the local colleges and universities in the area

We also made some small investments to allow innovation ideas that came from the team to be developed.  We spent around £500 on some Raspberry Pi’s, RFID readers and some virtual reality headsets.  The teams turned this into some amazing innovative projects which have either supported activities in the Centre or our clients.

We had transformed from a very unclear future into an environment where ideas were encouraged and supported and best of all, the team had some amazing ideas!

After 6 months of doing this we held a pulse survey of engagement indicators and found that over 85% of our team were either ‘happy or very happy at work’.

At this point it felt like we had found the team’s Mojo and we didn’t want to lose it, so our engagement activities turned into Project Mojo.

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We are still running Project Mojo, issuing 6 monthly surveys, having Uber Scrums and running Mojo Workshops to keep the momentum going.

There are other aspects to our digital culture which I’ll go into more detail in subsequent blogs including collaboration, guilds, training amongst others.

We are still learning and continuing to get better every day.  Sometimes it’s amazing, sometimes it’s another learning opportunity.  I don’t know if it’s quite on the level of the Magic of Disney, but there is definitely a buzz, excitement and enthusiasm that I’ve never felt before in the air.

There are other aspects to our digital culture which I’ll go into more detail in subsequent blogs, including collaboration, guilds, mentoring, training amongst others and also, how we are looking to take what we have achieved and scale that out across the wider organisations.

 

 

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