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Culture of Change or Change-Resistant Culture

By Hank Barnes | November 09, 2021 | 2 Comments

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The hot topic right now is “The Great Resignation” with workers fleeing jobs that they don’t find fulfilling.   It is yet another sign that company culture, and the mindsets they encourage, is a big deal.

In thinking about that, I was looking at some data from recent Gartner studies and using, you guessed it, Gartner’s Enterprise Technology Adoption (ETA) Profiles as my gauge.   We’ll start with our latest CIO and Top Tech Executive study.    In that study, we asked these leaders whether their company embraced a culture of “continuous exploration and creation of game-changing capabilities.”  There was a range of levels, but if we focus on the high end, i.e. “Widely” or “Extensively”, the results were eye-opening (or maybe just reinforcing for ETA disciples).   The overall sample percentage was 20%.   Organizations that were dynamic with regards to pace of change where much more likely to embrace that type of culture, with percentages ranging from 47% to 25%.  On the low end, we saw two profiles, our Disinterested Laggards (ABM) and Reluctant Followers (ACR) with percentages of 3% and 9%, respectively.     That’s a 44 percentage point spread.   Could you imagine wanting to make a visible impact and working in an org that was a “Disinterested Laggard.”   Time to join the great resignation club.  (As a note, I’ll be publishing some research soon that explores this data in a bit more detail for clients).

On a similar vein,  our study of users and their influence on technology decisions took a look at users ability and desires to embrace new ways of working.    The lowest scores in those areas were found in three “ETA based” groups:   The Disinterested Laggards (ABM), the Reluctant Followers (ACR), and the group of users that did not feel they knew enough about their organizations approach to technology decisions to answer the ETA questions.   The net is that those with the most fixed culture had the lowest likelihood of having workers that wanted to and were able to (through their own efforts and their company’s support) change.  Craig Roth will be publishing much more on this topic in the coming weeks and months.

I won’t even go back and revisit our work on pessismists (though clients should check out the series of infographics we did on this).  Let’s just say ETAs are a great predictor of pessimism

No company is perfect and there are frustrating situations that always crop up.   But recognizing the frequency of those occurrences and the attitudes of the people you are working with is yet another signal as to what you can expect as you engage with them for sales opportunities.  As Gordon Hogg commented on my last post, the willingness to change is a more important factor than the need to change.

Do your customers have a culture that embraces change? Or do they fight it?  It should be a clear signal of what you can expect.    Pay attention and adjust your approach accordingly.

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2 Comments

  • Hank, you said, “No company is perfect and there are frustrating situations that always crop up.”

    Outside of the typical ‘CIO and Top Tech Executive’ ranks, what are your thoughts about leadership that’s better at retaining highly-skilled tech talent?

    What about the ‘Line of Business’ leaders that are hiring IT talent. Are they more likely to develop a growth mindset within their organization that engages key employees?

    Since LoB is now a primary buying center for business technology solutions with a large enterprise, I’m wondering if perhaps they’re more effective at employee retention.

    • Hank Barnes says:

      David, not really my area of expertise, but I suspect that team culture matters a lot, but when it is inconsistent with corporate culture, the potential for friction exists–so the gains may be temporary. And it works the opposite way–a lousy team culture–due to poor leadership–will be super painful if it goes against the rest of the org.