Technology and Corporate Culture
Technology and Corporate Culture: Creating a Copacetic Environment for Success
Technology can be disruptive, liberating and transformational – a simultaneous mixture of combustible (to corporate culture) ideas, personalized applications and revolutionary concepts.
By itself, technology is just a euphemism for change, subject to the interpretations and reactions of a multitude of employers and employees. Integrating new technology, while respecting or anticipating the reactions of workers, is more than the plug-and-play vision of a programmer or the simplicity of a statistician’s forecast. For, technology must interact with the real world – it must rise or fall based on the acceptance of users – where a company must take the lead in embracing the benefits of new tools and resources.
That assignment, as I remind readers (and as my experiences continue to remind me), is a solemn undertaking; it cannot happen without the support of a business owner and the acceptance of his or her workers, in acknowledgment of a fundamental truth: That a particular brand of technology can enhance productivity, improve morale, reward individual employees, streamline operations, increase profits and save money.
And, as I am wont to do when writing about technology, I encourage people to direct their attention to the propane delivery industry – a field I know quite well – because it is alive with the spirit of innovation-through-technology.
My discussions with the team at Delta Liquid Energy, a family-run (since 1936) supplier of propane for California, Arizona and Nevada, prove this point about technology: That its introduction and adoption must be part of a detailed – and doable – plan for lasting change. The company’s nine bulk plants and RV facilities, which serve twelve of the Golden State’s most influential counties, speak to its success and the magnitude of its vast network of managers, drivers, technicians and staff.
Watching this business perform, strengthened by the assets of real-time intelligence, is a case study in a twofold set of communications. On the one hand, there is the information of knowing where a driver is, to whom he or she is en route to meet, complemented by the ability to speak with that worker – to better organize and clarify tasks – for the good of all. (That advantage is the inspiration of my efforts on behalf of Digital Dispatcher, where I serve as Vice President and Senior Consultant.)
On the other, there is the internal mission of Delta Liquid Energy – a project the company accomplishes ably, which is a model for other businesses to emulate – in which there is a major investment in technology and a cultural investment in guiding employees towards a mutually beneficial goal.
For example: By equipping each driver with a Samsung Galaxy tablet, and through an interactive map of color-coded legends (red for a client awaiting receipt of propane, and green for delivery of same), a manager can track activity, spot redundancies, help workers (who may be sidelined by traffic, a flat tire or an accident) and foster better communications in general.
These events represent a noble ambition, but they nonetheless depend on educating workers, earning their trust and having a culture of communication before instituting the technology of communications.
A Culture of Cooperation: Respect Through Action
The takeaway theme about Delta Liquid Energy, one I encourage executives in all industries to follow, is this: No matter how user-friendly technology may be, and regardless of the competitive edge it may offer and the efficiency it may augur, it cannot flourish without a culture of cooperation.
That is, if an executive summarily imposes a technology “solution” onto his or her employees, if that individual acts like an emperor with the divine will of a tyrant, mistaking his or employees as serfs who will succumb to this diktat without an ounce of protest – rebellion will be passive by design and disastrous (for a company) by effect because of a lack of communications.
The lesson Delta Liquid Energy teaches us, which is universal in its importance and fruitful in its outcome, is to collaborate with employees and ensure their comfort with any and all forms of technology. Never forsake employees, and never treat them as disposable components in some massive complex of corporate machinery.
They, the men and women of a workforce, are the lifeblood of a company; they give a business an identity, and they do their jobs with personality. The right technology can maximize that role, provided a company introduces that system the right way, under the right circumstances.
Delta Liquid Energy demonstrates what every business can do, which is inseparable from what every organization should do: Cooperate and communicate, so technology can make prosperity possible and goodwill (among employees) probable.