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canyon bridging the cultural divide

Bridging the Cultural Divide Connecting IT and Business

Last week I had the honour of being invited to speak at a BITAS Conference (Business IT Architecture Series) on organizational culture change, organized by IASA Global for Enterprise Architects. It felt like a home-coming because the first 15 years of my professional career were spent working in the IT industry for 2 multi-nationals Oracle Corporation and Digital Equipment. The topic of my talk was Connecting IT and Business Bridging the Cultural Divide. I was asked to present a case study of the cultural transformation work I did for the IT Group in Transport Canada.

What stood out for me is how much things change and yet stay the same. The #1 reason 70% of change leaders fail is still cultural human dynamics leading to miscommunication and poor collaboration. This is why I wrote chapter 2, The Cultural Divide, in my book – Conscious Culture – How to Build a High Performing Workplace through Values, Ethics, and Leadership. It is also one of the reasons why I became a certified professional facilitator, to provide facilitative leadership in organizational culture change for leadership teams, helping them bridge the communication gap, increase employee engagement, and productivity.
In the IT Industry I worked between two groups with very different cultures. They were the business functions (with application requirements and budget) who needed to invest in new technology to meet their business objectives, and the IT department with the technology and expertise for implementing the solutions.
It makes perfect sense to think these two groups would be motivated to support and collaborate effectively to meet the business requirements. “You have the money; I have the toys, let’s play. ” However, this could not have been further from the truth. To be quite honest, it felt like I was working in a war zone. Even after all these years of new information technology being introduced into organizations, these groups continue to have difficult relationships, often plagued with animosity, frustration, and misunderstanding.
This is a perfect example of a cultural divide and the impact when different organizational cultures collide. Why is this? There are many reasons that boil down to differences in the way people communicate and work. They have different business processes that have been developed based on best practices, guiding principles, education, operating values, beliefs, and cultural norms. The language and buzz words they use to communicate are different, ‘bits and bytes’, ‘speeds and feeds’, and acronyms galore! Along with their habits, traditions, strengths, attitudes, and emotions. These differences are the reason behaviors of each group are not understood and this lack of understanding causes a great deal of conflict. When your values are not understood, it feels like they are being ignored or stepped on, which creates conflict and deepens the challenge to communicate and work collaboratively.
The Cultural Values Assessment I did for the IT Group in Transport Canada enabled the leaders and management team to receive a lot of valuable feedback and information from their key stakeholders, the business leaders of the department, and their employees. This information enabled the leaders and management team to see things from other people’s perspective. It takes a wise leader to value diversity and accept that differences might be strengths, experience or knowledge the other person has which they do not.
All too often we keep our values buried beneath the surface. We do not make the time to examine them or see how they could be supporting us in our day-to-day exchanges. By making the IT Group’s values explicit and managing the team based on their desired organizational values, we empowered everyone in the organization.
Bottom line, groups and nationalities have distinct personalities that come out in how they think, communicate, and do things. This is how culture is defined and why cultural divides exist. Every organization suffers from some form of cultural divide unless steps are taken to invest in culture and consciously work together to develop greater awareness and appreciation for each other’s differences and diversity of strengths.

I wrote the book, to help leaders consciously transform their workplace culture. It’s why I continue to speak to leaders at conferences and provide learning development seminars. I’m passionate in sharing with you and other leaders, how you can improve the bottom line performance by investing in your workplace culture, enabling your greatest resource, your people, to reach their full potential.

 

Be sure to visit our Resource Center for valuable leadership development resources

Our E-learning Seminar – Building Your High Performing Workplace.

To learn how well aligned you are with the culture in your organization contact us for an – Individual Values Assessment

To learn how to map, measure and manage the culture of your team or organization with our Culture Value Assessment for Teams and Organizations.

Leadership Speaker Joanna Barclay (2)Leadership Speaker Joanna Barclay (2)Leadership Speaker Joanna Barclay (2)Contact Us Joanna BarclayJoanna Barclay, Speaker, Author, Leadership Consultant building high performing values-driven organizational culture.

With 30 years in business transformation working with organizations, Joanna’s passion lies in working with leaders, facilitating active participation in organizational change, developing resourceful teams and aligning strategic objectives. Her goal is to help organizations become high performing and values-driven, where people take ownership, build commitment and bridge communication gaps. As CEO of the Culture Leadership Group, she ensures successful transformation from concept through to implementation.

3 Steps to a Successful Strategy Implementation

Everyone knows workplace culture is important. In many cases, a company’s culture is more important than its strategy or operating model. A few years ago, a consulting company in Singapore did a study with 200 companies. Their results showed 9 out of 10 strategic initiatives failed because leaders didn’t focus on changing people’s behaviours and how they worked together.

Do you have new business requirements and strategies that will require different behaviours and a shift in corporate culture? Unless you focus on changing how people work together how can you expect different results? Einstein said that doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results is… insanity.

If Einstein was at your workplace, he might say “Leading, managing and behaving in the same old ways while expecting your employees to embrace new work habits and higher levels of collaboration is cultural insanity.”

In your annual planning sessions, do you see strategies coming back… year-after-year because your organization didn’t implement them successfully? One reason might be because your current culture, the way people are working today, is out of alignment with the strategies you’re trying to implement.
May I help you increase your strategy implementation success?

It’s as easy as 1…2…3…

Step 1

Identify all the stakeholders who are impacted by the strategies you wish to implement. A stakeholder is any person or group who has an interest in your success.

Step 2
Conduct an environmental scan with your key stakeholders and identify the drivers for change. They are the impetus and motivation for change, providing the change effort’s relevance and meaning. Drivers are the purpose for those leading the change as well as those who are going to be affected by the change. People need to understand and accept the compelling reasons for change before they will commit to changing their behaviours.

Worksheet – Compelling Reasons for Change
Purpose: To build commitment for cultural transformation by conducting an environmental scan and identifying the compelling reasons for change.

Stakeholder Analysis & Environment Scan

Stakeholder analysis:
Who are our stakeholders?
What do they need from us?
How do we serve them?
External business environment:
What changes are affecting our organization and generating new business imperatives?
Internal business environment
How do we constantly learn from our experiences and daily operations?
How do team members bring themselves fully to work?
Organizational and social structures:
How do we develop clarity on team objectives between all stakeholders?
How does the team best organize itself to deliver on priorities?
The forces that hold the team together:
What is the level of trust on the team? Using the Trust Matrix below, plot five areas of strength and five areas that need developing.
What would motivate team members to give more to this team versus other teams?

 

Trust Matrix

Step 3

The most challenging struggles identified in the drivers for change deal with leaders’ and team members’ behaviours and mindset. They need to develop awareness, ownership, and responsibility for the internal drivers of change such as personal behaviors and values. This is because organizations do not change: it is the people in them that do. For sustained success and real change to happen, the change must begin at the base, in the mindset and values of leaders and staff. When mindsets change, new thinking and strategies emerge, making new behaviors possible, sparking a rippling effect up the drivers of change.

Drivers of Change

 

Be sure to visit our Resource Center for valuable leadership development resources

Our E-learning Seminar - Building Your High Performing Workplace.

To find out what your personal values are that empower you to higher performance and productivity, take a Free Personal Values Assessment.

To learn how well aligned you are with the culture in your organization contact us for an – Individual Values Assessment

To learn how to map, measure and manage the culture of your team or organization with our Culture Value Assessment for Teams and Organizations.

Leadership Speaker Joanna Barclay (2)Leadership Speaker Joanna Barclay (2)Leadership Speaker Joanna Barclay (2)Contact Us Joanna BarclayJoanna Barclay, Speaker, Author, Leadership Consultant building high performing values-driven organizational culture.

With 30 years in business transformation working with organizations, Joanna’s passion lies in working with leaders, facilitating active participation in organizational change, developing resourceful teams and aligning strategic objectives. Her goal is to help organizations become high performing and values-driven, where people take ownership, build commitment and bridge communication gaps. As CEO of the Culture Leadership Group, she ensures successful transformation from concept through to implementation.