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Culture First, Technology Second

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12 June 2017

It was MIT’s Bill Aulet that said: “Culture eats strategy for Breakfast; technology for lunch.” I’ve worked in startups with amazing ideas with amazing founders, only to see the culture - not the technology or idea -  hamper their ability to grow company fast enough to be successful.  

I’ve also worked with FTSE 100 corporations in senior roles to help turn around their failed or struggling technology or product strategy. Almost every time - this has started with needing a people and culture change. Without a strongly rooted culture, adding new technology platforms like AWS, Cloud Computing or collaboration software become cheap tricks that were ultimately resisted by the company.

Without a strong culture, the best product managers will be throttled by toxic processes that will eventually ripple through and affect the product itself. (And customers will notice.)

For me, the three biggest pitfalls companies often fall into, are believing that:

  • Technology can transform culture

  • Culture change is bottom up only

  • Culture change is top down only

The truth is that people remain at the heart of a company - and setting a cultural ethos is not a technology problem.  Culture cannot be written in an email and given to people to execute, and especially so if the founders or C-levels don’t live the culture themselves.

Change is possible - but needs to be considered. It can be hard to get right, and needs design not luck - and once you get it right, it self-propagates and propels the company forward.

I’m excited to see Temporall tackle company problems with innovation, disruption and agility from a fresh perspective: culture and people first!

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