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Analytics is changing the importance of culture in the workplace

By Muni Boga


Every leader has heard the Peter Drucker quote, “Culture eats strategy for breakfast,” and many successful organizations around the world

, such as Zappos and Lego, are vocal about their belief that culture is core to their success. Yet every day, companies around the world continue to ignore the importance of organizational culture in driving business performance. Why? For the simple reason that they have trouble seeing the return on investment (ROI).

Culture is considered warm and fuzzy, or a “nice to have” and often sits at the bottom of an organization’s list of priorities – but this is changing. In fact, researchers at Duke University’s Fuqua School found that in an analysis of 1,348 firms, 92 per cent believe that improving their culture would increase their firm’s value.

Enter Cultural Analytics. While People Analytics is becoming a hot topic in HCM, Cultural Analytics goes right alongside. People Analytics in HCM uses hardware and software to measure, report and understand the employee’s profile and performance. Cultural Analytics was first developed by Lev Manovich in 2005 outside of HCM. Today, HCM Cultural Analytics focuses on cultural data in organizations and their subgroups. There are numerous definitions of culture. However, when defining organizational culture, we can incorporate the following concepts:

  • Culture is made up of shared values and behaviours.
  • Culture has varying degrees of awareness and interpretations, both in and outside the company and its subgroups.
  • Culture is impacted by internal and external forces differently.
  • Culture is something that is learned through social interactions.

Historically, cultural analysis in organizations has been conducted using surveys, with the introduction of pulse surveys having provided an increased frequency for information gathering. These methods of gathering data are very useful; they give employees a chance to feel heard and are becoming increasingly more intelligent. However, surveys are still limited by factors such as timing, design, interpretation and disruption. Not to mention, they don’t necessarily solve the problems that they find.

Today, in our personal world, cultural data can be found in social platforms such as Instagram, Twitter and YouTube. As an example, Desislava Hristova at the University of Cambridge is using data from Flickr to show that culture makes cities more prosperous. Similarly, in the business world, corporate social networks and core value/behaviour-aligned applications are revealing similar insights about organizations. These social business platforms are forging their way into the Future of Work. But before getting too excited, it is important to note that the need for data and validation should be balanced with the humanistic goals and activities within the organization. After all, we are talking about people and culture – an emotional connection between the employee and the organization. This needs to be authentic.

What are the analytic benefits of these cultural platforms?


Real-time insights

The data is real-time – it changes every day, every hour and every minute. This frequency of data collection provides a pulse of the interactions within the organization. It is live and in-the-moment, much like a heartbeat. Is the company thriving or is it having a heart attack?

Behavioural insights

Since values and behaviours are vital to identifying culture, understanding value alignment at any point in time is crucial. Any turn of events can have an impact on culture and engagement, and in turn, behavioural alignment within the organization. Is everyone rowing together? Is leadership living the core values? Does everyone really understand what teamwork is? What areas of the company need attention? If the company and its people are meant to be in sync to see success, having validation of this alignment is crucial.


Business insights

Many things can impact culture: business decisions, manager and leadership actions, peer relationships, recognition, respect, transparency, diversity and even geopolitical events. While there may be advanced notice about some of these events, others happen in the moment and are uncontrolled. The benefit of having real-time cultural data is that a particular moment can be pinpointed to see if a business decision or event affected an organization or continues to affect an organization.


Performance insights

Ultimately, none of this matters unless it makes the business better or delivers a ROI. This is where mapping business performance data on top of cultural data becomes important. The large consulting firms have been conducting similar analyses with survey data for many years. New cultural platforms are making this valuable function increasingly more accessible and affordable to all sizes of organizations in all industries.


Predictive Insights

As an organization gathers more data and experiences fluctuations in its data, the pattern of the organizational heartbeat develops. Points of negative and positive stress evolve and make their mark, and after time they can provide greater insight into how future events or previously utilized solutions may affect the business down the line. Having these insights is invaluable and can enable better decision making and change management in the future.

While organizational culture may be seen as warm and fuzzy, HCM Cultural Analytics is breaking this stereotype. We are living in a time where technology is transforming the way we do business now and in the future. It’s a movement that gets us closer to who we are as people and what we are meant to achieve, both for ourselves, as well as the businesses we belong to. Because all organizations can benefit from a little bit of data and a little warm and fuzzy.

Muni Boga is chief executive officer and founder of Kudos Inc.



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