@melimulhol , https://www.linkedin.com/in/melissa-mulholland/

An open-minded approach to digital transformation can unlock a new world of innovation and opportunities. However, to truly transform your business, you must first transform your culture. Digital literacy and new skills are essential, but it’s equally crucial to make sure your culture supports ongoing and rapid innovation.  

Based on Microsoft’s own digital transformation journey, we‘ve learned that investing in your people is critical for success. Helping your employees develop new skills fosters a culture where they feel empowered to chase new ideas, and know that their ideas are valued. 

Cultural change starts at the top

Microsoft’s cultural shift in recent years clearly comes from the top down.

In his book, Hit Refresh, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella describes how “culture eats strategy for breakfast.” He talks about the need for deeper empathy and understanding, and becoming comfortable with impermanence. The lesson there is to lead by example and follow your core principles. Ensure your leadership team and direct reports exemplify those characteristics.

We have three recommendations for leaders to empower employees:

  1. Follow your passion: Communicate the big bold ambitions, and stay open to ideas from anywhere in the organization.
  2. Evaluate your existing talent: Think about how to build an effective culture.
  3. Be consistent and follow through: Employees are sensitive to change, so lead with conviction.

Keep these recommendations top of mind when giving advice to your customers as you help transform their businesses.

A passion for big bold ideas

Do you ever feel stifled by your current business model or existing team structure? If you want to build something bigger and bolder, propose the idea before determining what talent you’ll need. Companies that are hesitant to innovate in one area due to success in another sometimes don’t see the need to evolve. And to succeed, your organization must be able to continuously evolve. 

A great example is RedPixie, a UK partner and cloud specialist, which we also mentioned here. Ambition became personal when a friend of the company took the wrong medicine and ended up passing away. The leaders then reshaped the company to focus on preventing these types of events from occurring again. Ultimately, they evaluated their business model and decided to build an IoT device around an emerging technolog­y––something they had never done before.  

The technology was novel, so RedPixie hired a technical architect with a medical background and combined that depth of knowledge in medicine with the company’s expertise in developing wearable devices. 

RedPixie is not a large company, yet it was able to make this bold change by acting nimbly. 

The diversity imperative

Knowledge, expertise, and experience are critical for an organization undergoing digital transformation. This highlights the need to invest in a culture of diverse ideas and shared purpose. 

Diversity goes much deeper than doing the right thing. Innovation requires new ideas, that can—and should—come from anywhere. As a leader, you must buy in to this philosophy and make sure those around you are open to it. 

Having strong leaders who will take ideas from anyone in the company is very important. Recognizing talent and investing in growth can instill confidence in employees and lead to better ideas. Growth is much easier when employees feel confident that their ideas will be heard. 

At New Signature, a partner based in Washington, DC, a passion for technology and innovation merges with its people-first values and commitment to diversity.

It takes a lot of trust for customers to transform their businesses, and it’s a human connection that can instill the confidence customers need to drive transformation. That confidence is carried over in the New Signature work environment, where creativity is encouraged, and employees aim to make a difference in every customer interaction.

“Our employees know that they make a positive difference every time that they help a customer to solve their challenges. Our focus on delivering great customer experiences empowers our people to build rewarding relationships that contribute to our positive and rewarding work environment.”
— Jeff Tench, CEO, New Signature.

In short, digital transformation creates opportunity. Capitalize by staying self-aware, continuing to learn, and always listening. Be smart and always look to invest in your own talent first. Understand the culture you want to shape, then determine how that best aligns with the direction of your organization. To truly transform, your culture must encourage new ideas, and leaders must showcase those ideas.

If you have any questions about these learning paths, email partnerup@microsoft.com, and please share your experience with our training in the Microsoft Partner Community.

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