People & Culture, Research

Digital Transformation and Work Cultures

…… Part of The Basics series. First published in August 2015 ……

Is Your Work Culture Conducive to Digital Transformation? — The Data

I have explored digital transformation in my annual, online surveys with organizations around the world over the past nine years. The charts on this page correlate work cultures with obstacles to transformation.

The Foundational Framework defined by myself with support from members of the 2013 and 2014 survey Advisory Boards serves as a basis for much of the analysis over the past two years.

I have grouped the toughest obstacles – those rated as serious and holding us back — into five categories. (Descriptions at the bottom of this page.) The four characteristics of work cultures listed below are correlated to the severity of the obstacles.

  • Strong, shared sense of purpose vs. weak, inconsistent sense of purpose
  • Freedom to experiment vs. absolute compliance to rules and processes
  • Distributed decision-making vs. centralized, hierarchical decision-making
  • Open to the influence of the external world vs. closed to the external world


Descriptions of obstacles

  • Decision-making: decision-making by consensus, internal politics, and competing priorities.
  • Value perception: lack of ROI or proven value and lack of senior management sponsorship.
  • Willingness to address deep change: hesitation to rethink how we work and too much focus on technology.
  • Operational awareness: lack of understanding operational issues at the decision-making level and difficulties when going from theory to practice.
  • Fear and control: fear by management of losing control, fear by central functions of losing control and fears that employees will waste time on social platforms.

About the research

Figures are based on data collected in annual surveys with participation from an evolving base of approximately 300 organizations headquartered in Europe, North America and Australia-Pacific. They operate in different sectors, and have workforces ranging from fewer than 500 to over 100,000 people.

The 9th annual global survey included 373 people from 26 countries representing 280 organizations. Participants responded to an in-depth online survey of 140 questions. The data was collected between October 2014 and early January 2015. The report — The Organization in the Digital Age — was published in March 2015.