When Strategy meets culture

December 22, 2016 Geoffroy De Lestrange

Company culture. It is a company’s ethos, moral code, values, processes, vision for the future and essentially, what makes a business unique. These elements all filter down from the top, defined and pre-programmed by C-level executives and the board, but it is HR who has the responsibility to implement, share and, if needed, to change those values and systems.

The 2016 digital business global executive report revealed that 90% of companies expect to see their business completely disrupted by digital trends. The work environment is clearly changing and companies need to make sure they change with it.

So, how can you transform your business to make sure it stays on top of the trends?

The simple answer: through your employees. Beyond implementing new business strategies, the true way to deal with digital disruption is through developing your company culture. This may be easier said than done, but we have outlined some simple means to help change employee mindsets and working practices:  

Revolutionise HR

If you wish to change your business through your employees, then it makes sense that HR also must change.  HR needs to be re-positioned as a business partner to help enable this cultural change and consequently develop and transform your business.

Be flexible

When your employees possess a wealth of knowledge, it can be tempting to always provide clients with ready-made answers. Instead, create a dialogue with your clients, asking questions to find out what they truly need and offering them quick ideas rather than full solutions to allow for adaption and changes. This flexibility will help make sure you stay ahead of the curve.

Make mistakes

Many companies can be traditionally risk averse but to deal with digital disruption, they need to start taking risks. This is how you can foster innovation and creativity and help your business to grow in new directions. Lead by example, try out new methods, new ways of thinking and you can help inspire employees to do the same. Create a ‘fail fast’ culture where ideas are constantly tried out and tested, simply moving on quickly to something else if they don’t work.

Share knowledge

Further boost innovation and development through encouraging employees to share their skills. This can be easily facilitated through using a tech hub to collect and store this knowledge, making it available to all staff. Employees can seek out learning for themselves, exchange expertise with one another and collaborate more. Our research with IDC demonstrated that this greater collaboration also aids employee retention.

Be consistent

Too great a focus on local, individual projects also leads to closed thinking, impeding progress.  To avoid this, all company standards and processes need to be the same across the organisation. Staff will not be able to simply opt out of certain aspects of the business. Instead, this transparency will help create the feeling of being ‘one’ company, working together towards a common goal.


Encourage true dialogue between managers and employees, providing more opportunities for feedback and creating a safe environment to discuss ideas. Don’t just let feedback be accepted or rejected but ask for and encourage opinions. After these discussions, always then establish actions to follow up on. This is how you move your employees and your company forward.

Introducing new ways of working, company values and changing employee’s mindsets is no quick and simple task. But companies are facing major disruption and these changes can no longer be ignored. This is the time you decide whether you sink or swim.  

About the Author

Geoffroy De Lestrange

Product Marketing & Communication Director EMEA at Cornerstone OnDemand

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