Linking Leadership, Trust, and Agility to Scale Digital Transformation

Leadership, data, speed, and company culture are intrinsically interlinked. Talent management practices, in particular, often create transparency gaps between management and employees. Translating leadership ambitions into rewards and motivations within individuals and teams is notoriously difficult. Layers of processes, tools and governance are commonly used to manage this gap, safeguard compliance, avoid risks, and ideally ensure fairness (e.g. annual reviews, bonus alignment, performance improvement plans, ranking strategies, training plans). Nevertheless, we have witnessed these traditional mechanisms falling short in areas such as gender pay gap (currently a topic at Google), or more commonly as inhibitors to speed (the driver of culture and process transformations in companies like Netflix). Rather than engage employees with the intended transparency, they often result in diminished psychological safety by penalizing failure and honesty – fundamental enablers to speed and agility.

Many asset-based industries are now facing this challenge. As digital transformation and analytic programs attempt to scale, they often face cultural resistance to change and/or process-laden organization models which are slow to adapt. When these programs initially focus on rapid technology changes over culture and leadership development, they face gridlock during execution or take too long to meet the original competitive purpose. This is the conflict of agile projects in a waterfall culture and operating model.

Human capital strategies must shift to new, data-enabled employee experience models while building culture-focused organizational development capabilities to create alignment. This combination unlocks not only the ability to move quickly, but the freedom and trust required to do so. Digital transformation programs must be adequately scoped and led to understand and address these types of critical dependencies, which we support through the HUMANXP Digital Capability Assessment and culture transformation framework. Cross-functional frameworks that span technology, HR, leadership, and operating models help build a faster enterprise, instead of building silo’d solutions with limited ability to scale.