Progress Before Perfection – 3 words defining a digital culture

Leading to the success of the ladder, the accumulation of time

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Defining/implementing a digital culture is high on the agenda for businesses today. A journey initiated around long lists of cultural changes and wanted behaviors. To the point where finding an initial focus for successful implementation is hard. resulting in a failure to communicate an inspiring direction to our organization. But what if the majority of the desired shifts fit in 3 words?

Progress before perfection

The essence of cultural transformations is to drive progress towards an uncertain future. Rather than perfecting a well-known past reality. The phrase “progress before perfection” summarizes the direction. And is well suited as a top-level anchor for the desired cultural change.

Short enough for all to remember. And broad enough to capture the multi-facetted change you target. Here described with five examples of digital culture attributes.

Stronger execution focus

Stressing progress create a strong tie to execution. Where a perfection culture is more tied to planning. A digital culture is execution centric in nature. With focus on a few strategic priorities at any given time. Progress before perfection serve as an anchor for execution focus. And a shift from a world where it was possible to plan yourself all the way to success.

Faster decision making

By prioritizing progress before perfection, you enable faster decision making. You can take decisions earlier when you decide before a perfect fact base exist. Knowing you have an option to pivot later as the fact base become clear. You can take smaller decisions to secure progress this and next week. Followed by smaller decisions as you gain insights along the road.

Daily build of customer insights

Cultures striving for perfection build on knowing, and executing towards well known facts. Digital cultures focus more on learning in general. And learning from and with customers and partners in particular. The target market is more characterized by VUCA. Vulnerability, uncertainty, complexity and ambiguity are digital table stakes. An essential element of progress come from building customer insights daily. Where the progress of your organization stand on three legs. Learning, and immediate sharing and refining insights are all great measures to track.

Increase innovation level

Promoting progress serve the drive for innovative climate on many fronts. Targeting both disruptive and sustaining innovation agendas. For both offerings and ways of working. In a climate where doing mistakes is great as long as you learn from them and move on. Striving for perfection can work against innovation. Staff is uncomfortable of exploring new and making mistakes. Ideas get criticized too early by peers. Old ways of working don’t work for new problems. And the business is not digitized fast enough.

Kick-start digital engagements

Whatever a business does in the customer engagement interface will be a novelty. Learning from global digital leaders. Tuning your approach to the specific situation for your industry and your business. Operating in this new field requires a mindset driven by progress made in many small steps. Don’t expect your digital engagements to be perfect any time soon. Aspire to make them a lot better in three months than they are today. And expect the bar for what digital leaders do in marketing and sales to be a fast-moving target.

Questions for you and your team

  1. What characterize our digital culture target – start with a list of what you already want.
  2. How do our priorities fit “progress before perfection” – test your ideas towards the anchor.
  3. Which attributes have biggest impact on your success – not all have equal weight.
  4. How do you secure room for creativity – creating a digital culture is not a trail walk.
  5. How do you plan to start your cultural transformation – expect a challenge to reach all.

Additional reading suggestions

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