Digital transformation is disrupting the world of business in a way that extends far beyond the technology sector. To be successful, businesses must be prepared to think quickly, learn quickly, and quickly embrace new processes.

Those who cannot transition will be among the disrupted, destined to fade into obsolescence. Those who can transition will find success, embracing transformation and joining the disruptors. The differentiating factor is found in corporate culture.

Digital transformation goes beyond digitalization

It is tempting to believe that digital transformation can be achieved by simply applying new technology to old processes. While that can enhance efficiency and possibly increase profits, it will never prepare a company to think in the way that is necessary to be competitive in the digital age.

In the early days of the digital revolution, many work processes were digitized when computers became a common business tool. The processes were basically the same. Journalists were still typing their articles. Now, however, they were typing them on word processors instead of typewriters.

Digitalization involves using digitization to streamline business. It is newspapers being printed from digital plates. The updated plates allow newspaper publishers to print their papers faster than they could before, but they are still printing newspapers.

Moving beyond digitalization to digital transformation requires more than learning new skills that accelerate business. Digital transformation requires thinking in new ways and discovering new types of business. It is an online newspaper that is shaped by search engine optimization. 

Digital transformation takes a team

Traditional corporate structures, with top-down hierarchies, rigidly defined organizational structures, and tightly controlled communication networks, can benefit from digitalization, but will never experience the empowerment brought by digital transformation.

“We like to say that culture drives processes, which, in turn, drives technology,” says Bryon Kroger, CEO of Rise8, a full-stack digital transformation firm that specializes in optimizing company performance by transforming company culture.

“Digital tools are useful, but tools don’t lead transformation,” says Kroger. “People lead transformation. You can’t have digital transformation without first transforming culture.”

The values that drive digital transformation differ from those found in traditional corporate manuals. Values like integrity, excellence, and respect are seen as a given. Companies like Rise8 focus on values that drive collaboration and teamwork, things like promoting “freedom and responsibility,” having “broad and deliberate transparency,” being “radically truthful with each other,” and “avoiding unnecessary rules.”

The goal of such values is creating a team that pursues ambitious goals together.

Principles for building a digital-ready culture

Kroger offers the following concrete steps that companies can take to create a culture that can thrive in the age of digital transformation:

  • Create an idea meritocracy — To succeed with digital transformation, the main responsibility of leadership must change from making good decisions to empowering others to make good decisions. “The leader’s job at every level is to set clear context so that others have the right information to make generally great decisions,” explains Kroger. “An idea meritocracy must put ideas over titles; the best ideas win, not the highest paid person’s opinions.”
  • Disagree, decide, and commit with a bias for action — To succeed with digital transformation, you cannot fear the truth. “We put radical truth and radical transparency at the forefront of our culture so we can surface disagreements and make better decisions,” says Kroger. “We don’t let loyalty to people, even our own, stand in the way of truth and the well-being of the team.”
  • Start small and deliver fast, forever — To succeed with digital transformation, growth cannot lead to more controls and less flexibility. “Throughout most large organizations, there is an unhealthy emphasis on process and not much freedom,” observes Kroger. “Specifically, we see a dominance of processes that hinder rather than facilitate continuous delivery and learning.”
  • Seek and give feedback — To succeed with digital transformation, companies must prioritize feedback. “While we celebrate our wins, we also learn from our failures and challenge ourselves to evolve,” says Kroger. “We work hard to get people to give each other professional, constructive feedback — up, down, and across the organization — on a continual basis.”
  • Make it safe to fail — To succeed with digital transformation, failures are seen as learning opportunities. “At the core of everything we do is the idea that it is okay to make mistakes, and unacceptable not to learn from them,” explains Kroger. “We don’t worry about looking good; we worry about achieving our goals.”

How culture delivers for customers

Rise8 is committed to delivering digital transformation for customers in high compliance spaces. When the entire culture of an organization is engaged and optimized for learning and delivering quickly, it becomes a force multiplier.

“Our customers can’t afford to be disrupted,” says Kroger. “So we help them to transform into digital organizations — ones that can continuously deliver impactful software that users love.”


  • Mike Souheil

    Author / Writer

    I am a professional blogger/writer and have been writing as a freelance writer for various websites. Now I have joined one of the most recognized platforms in the world.