What do we mean by “cultural fit” and how can we assess it?

Photo credit : Tie Me Down by Looking Glass

These questions arose as I tuned in to yet another excellent free webinar sponsored by HR.com on Implementing Social Technologies within your Organisation by Social & Organisational Strategist Kevin (Vin) Jones.

The first of five reasons Jones identifies for the intrinsic failure of an organisation to adopt social technology is “incorrect assumptions about cultural fit”.  For the second time in as many days (it was a two day web conference) I heard a presenter assert that “culture trumps strategy every time”. (The previous presenter had used the popular quote “culture eats strategy for breakfast”, usually attributed to Peter Drucker and often cited as the cause for the failure of mergers or acquisitions to realise their anticipated benefits.  I love these little idiomatic sayings!)

With two presenters giving such authority to the rather nebulous concept of culture in the successful (or not) implementation of social media, I was inspired to seek answers to the questions posed above.

The first question I asked myself was: What are the cultural characteristics necessary to support the successful adoption of social in an organisation? I believe they are:

Honesty and transparency
Collaborative
Non-hierarchical
Confident and successful
Accessible to new ideas

For completeness, I found myself wondering about the characteristics that would indicate a culture that would not readily adopt social and I came up with two powerful contra-indicators: a blame culture and what I would describe as a political culture: an environment of hidden agendas, where managers spend more time managing upwards than supporting their own teams, where failure is career limiting rather than an opportunity to try something different, and employees perceive a disconnect between what leaders say and what they do.  Those, in my view, denote a political culture.

Having reached these conclusions, I then discovered a two-part blog by Kevin Jones on Predicting the Adoption of Your Business Initiative. This was based on a (largely academic) book, written in 1962 called Diffusion of Innovations by Everett M Rogers.  Jones’s blog summarises the five factors identified by Rogers that are most influential in determining whether innovations or technologies will be adopted by an organisation, or not; what Jones calls the Adoption Index.

Part 2 of his blog showcases a tool for measuring your organisation’s readiness to adopt against the five factors. The tool will enable you to quickly identify your organisation’s adoption weak spots and help you to understand why past initiatives have failed.

Using the tool, Jones’s second blog effectively demonstrates the difference between initial adoption and sustained adoption, thus highlighting some critical limitations of a pilot or trial.

Jones’s webinar focused on five common reasons for adoption failure. If you go to his website you can download his eBook for free which identifies a further 8 (plus a bonus 1) Ways to Fail.  His webinar also gives some useful ammunition for defusing the top 7 objections you may encounter on your journey to implement social as part of your communications infrastructure.  Valuable stuff.

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About madeleinekavanagh

Internal comms specialist with a career spanning advertising, car sales and management consulting. My greatest legacy (so far) - my son!
This entry was posted in Culture, People management / motivation, Social media. Bookmark the permalink.

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