Change Management is Both Technical and Cultural

Change Management is Both Technical and Cultural

By Flux7 Labs
February 5, 2020

Our parent company, NTT DATA Services, just released a new research study “Every Cloud Has a Culture Lining.” In it, six in 10 executives admit that “the technical challenges of moving applications to the cloud are much easier to deal with than the associated people-related challenges.” Further, they find that although executives actively recognize these challenges, few have taken conclusive steps to address culture change. Rather than culture change associated with digital transformation, DevOps and other modernization initiatives, executives opt instead to focus on technology. Yet, the survey finds that effectively addressing culture change results in more agile organizations with greater efficiency and security. All while making significant technical gains.

Access the NTT DATA cloud culture findings today:

Given that, it’s important to understand the practical steps organizations can take to effectively manage culture change. And, excitedly, the benefits in store for teams who successfully do so. In our work across organizations, we’ve unearthed three primary mechanisms that help ensure a positive culture change. This change, in turn, further fuels the success of digital transformation, DevOps and similar projects. Not coincidentally, our experience and the methodologies we espouse to customers has just been affirmed by NTT DATA research. That said, let’s dive into those three areas, exploring the best practice recommendations and what the data says about them.


Tone at the Top Drives Digital Transformation Success

According to Deloitte, when “properly fed and nurtured, [tone at the top] is the foundation upon which the culture of an enterprise is built.” We’ve found this to be the case as well. As such, we encourage CIOs and senior IT leadership to fully embrace digital transformation. In our experience, this means more than granting budget or doling out directives in support of transformation projects. Senior leaders should get actively involved, removing hurdles that might get in the way of success.


Leading by example may seem like common sense advice. Yet, a true commitment to next-generation cloud development from the very top can not be understated. Indeed, NTT DATA’s research finds that a realistic approach to transformation coupled with full support from the top translates into modernization efforts far more likely to succeed.

Culture Change Agents

While it starts with tone at the top, ambassador change agents play a central role in creating organizational change. In this vein, we strongly advocate for the creation of a Community of Practice (CoP) to act as internal proponents of culture change. We recommend that the CoP consists of a hand-selected group of employees. Specifically, they should represent a cross-section of teams affected by the upcoming change (e.g. development, operations, networking, security, etc.)

Ideal CoP candidates effectively capture best practices and key learnings. They can effectively champion and share that knowledge across the organization. We favor employees who work well with ambiguity, prefer action, and find their comfort zone with technology, rapid change, and mitigated risk-taking.


CoPs have dual tasks. They build the foundation for transformation and convey knowledge about that transformation to the broader company. While the goal of CoPs varies, we often see CoPs:  

  • Create processes that reinforce cultural changes 
  • Evangelize successes, the importance of the new infrastructure and processes, and generally advocating the benefits of the transition
  • Present concepts and key skills needed for ongoing success. They do so through everything from individual knowledge transfer sessions to Summits. 
  • These sessions generally encourage positive change through collaboration. Open discussions across key stakeholder groups serve to air concerns, establish options, gain agreement on strategy and effectively manage culture change.

Cloud Leaders Culture

NTT DATA finds in its research a group of next-generation cloud leaders, which it defines as a minority group that is more advanced in its cloud transformation strategy. These leaders “take decisive steps to shift culture and team structure ahead of modernization.” This investment, “accelerates the transition, boosts talent retention, encourages productivity and, ultimately, delivers return on investment (ROI) on new digital solutions.”

Modernize the Enterprise with Upskilling

It’s critical to give employees the skills needed to support the new infrastructure, applications, and culture that transformation creates. As we discussed above, the CoP may be responsible for bringing this knowledge to teams. However, many organizations also choose to retain a specialist to work alongside the CoP, helping with the effective transfer of knowledge to broader development and IT teams.

According to findings from the NTT DATA study, banking and insurance represent the biggest aggregation of next-generation cloud leaders. Together they represent nearly one-third of high performers surveyed. Supporting our strong belief in knowledge transfer and upskilling of employees, these respondents are most likely to conduct an in-house skills assessment prior to migration. And, 38% report required training and upskilling during a migration.

Learnings from these and other successful organizations tell us that knowledge transfer at regular intervals (e.g. at the end of sprints) is an effective strategy. It instills the necessary skills for these teams to manage and expand on the infrastructure moving forward. More than technical skills, training should also include those skills needed to support new processes and the new culture.

With NTT DATA’s research, we have empirical evidence that underscores our in-the-field observations. High-performing organizations that prioritize culture change see clear benefits. They innovate faster, bring new products and services to market faster with higher quality, and experience desired business outcomes faster.

Interested in learning more about best practices for successful DevOps, Agile and/or digital transformation?  Contact our Solution Architects today to learn more. 

Technology is always changing. Stay in the loop with the Flux7 Blog

Written by Flux7 Labs

Flux7, an NTT DATA Company, is the only Sherpa on the DevOps journey that assesses, designs, and teaches while implementing a holistic solution for its enterprise customers, thus giving its clients the skills needed to manage and expand on the technology moving forward. Not a reseller or an MSP, Flux7 recommendations are 100% focused on customer requirements and creating the most efficient infrastructure possible that automates operations, streamlines and enhances development, and supports specific business goals.