Cracking the Tradition Code for Profitable Digital Transformation

Discovering the suitable steadiness between continuity and alter might help leaders higher handle the cultural adjustments that happen throughout a digital transformation.

Studying Time: 8 min 

Digital transformation transcends expertise and enterprise fashions. Organizational tradition additionally performs a important position in efficiently main a corporation into the digital period; certainly, the success of a digital transformation depends on a deep understanding of the intricacies of tradition. However few enterprise leaders absolutely perceive how an organization’s tradition adjustments throughout a digital transformation — and, extra importantly, the way it doesn’t change.

Take into account the case of Maersk, the Danish transport and built-in logistics firm, which has been present process a significant digital transformation. These efforts, which took off when Jim Hagemann Snabe grew to become chairman of the board in 2016, entailed collaborating on blockchain with IBM and offering digital platforms to clients. Inside cultural tensions at Maersk grew to become obvious late in 2021, when Søren Vind, a senior engineering supervisor and head of forecasting, had a public disagreement in regards to the firm’s id with a veteran Maersk sea captain who serves as the worker consultant on the board. In an interview with a Danish publication, Vind argued that Maersk “was an industrial firm that had expertise on [the] aspect” however had develop into “a technology company where we have some physical devices we need to move around.” Captain Thomas Lindegaard Madsen responded in a public LinkedIn publish — subsequently edited to defuse his criticism — that learn, “I’m very sorry, however I should appropriate you.” Stating that the maritime enterprise contributed 78% of group income and that the group has 12,000 seafarers, the captain declared, “We’re NOT a tech firm who ‘occurs’ to function ships.”

After all, each the captain and the manager are proper — and mistaken — of their statements, which merely signify completely different views on how digital transformation and tradition work together. The place the IT government views digital transformation from a cultural change lens, the ocean captain views it from a cultural continuity lens. Each lenses are legitimate, each can coexist, and each have to be collectively managed for a change effort to thrive.

The Tradition-Transformation Matrix

Because the names indicate, cultural change refers to how a digital transformation might alter a corporation’s tradition, and cultural continuity refers to parts of the tradition that stay secure. Briefly, throughout any organizational transformation there’s at all times an interaction between cultural change and continuity as cultures evolve, however most digital transformation initiatives as an alternative


1. For associated work on methods entailing continuity and alter, see D. Ravasi and M. Schultz, “Responding to Organizational Id Threats: Exploring the Function of Organizational Tradition,” Academy of Administration Journal 49, no. 3 (June 2006): 433-458; S. Nasim and Sushil, “Revisiting Organizational Change: Exploring the Paradox of Managing Continuity and Change,” Journal of Change Administration 11, no. 2 (June 2011): 185-206; S. Nasim and Sushil, “Versatile Technique Framework for Managing Continuity and Change in E-Authorities,” in “The Versatile Enterprise,” eds. Sushil and E.A. Stohr (Delhi: Springer India, 2014), 47-66; and Sushil, “A Versatile Technique Framework for Managing Continuity and Change,” Worldwide Journal of World Enterprise and Competitiveness 1, no. 1 (2005): 22-32.