You Ask, I Answer: Can Companies Automate Culture?

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You Ask, I Answer: Can Companies Automate Culture?

Alex asks, “Can you automate culture? Corporate culture and automation are two of the most prolific terms in the business lexicon, but what is their relationship?”

HJ Leavitt’s 1964 framework for people, process, and platform shows how these different areas interact. Culture is very much a people thing, while automation is a process and platform thing. If we look at the definition of culture – the customs, habits, traditions, social institutions, and achievements of a social group – there’s almost nothing there you’d want to automate.

Businesses tend to be bad already at fostering culture – it’s one of those things baked into your business DNA, guided by your values and how well people embody them – which is in turn driven by hiring and what people are held accountable for. You can certainly automate individual processes, but not the culture as a whole – and even there, beware. Automation will tend to get you more of what you already have. Watch the video for details.

You Ask, I Answer: Can Companies Automate Culture?

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Machine-Generated Transcript

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In today’s episode, Alex asks, Can you automate cultural

culture? corporate culture and automation are two of the most prolific terms in the business lexicon, but what is their relationship?

Um, can you automate culture know.

So here’s why.

In 1964, hJ love, it came up with a framework, the diamond of productivity, or something along those lines, I can’t remember the exact term. But that has since been distilled down by many, many expensive consulting firms into people process and technology, or people process and platform. The three P’s,

when you look at the intersection of those automation and culture live in different

sections of that diagram. So in fact, let’s bring up the lovely diagram.

People this who’s doing stuff, right, the people part is where culture lives.

When we talk about automation, we’re talking about the the integration of process and platform,

how you do stuff and what you do stuff with.

You can see there’s really very little overlap

between platform

and process. And people is that little section in the middle, which is, I guess, winning or general strategy, but for the most part,

the intersection of process platform doesn’t hardly touch people. What is culture? When if you look at the dictionary definition, which I like, let’s bring that up here.

The customs, habits, traditions, social institutions, and achievements of a social group.

There’s almost nothing there, you’d want to automate?

Not realistically, I can’t think of

anything at that macro level that you would want to have machines doing. I mean, can you imagine having machines automate weekly staff meeting if that’s a

if it’s a cultural institution at your company, or beer cart Friday having a robot driving around the beer cart that that would be efficient, but it would not be

very human. And and when we’re talking about culture, we’re talking about human stuff.

businesses in general already tend to be really bad at creating culture, it’s one of those things that happens I it’s kind of a nice overlap with the idea of culture as like bacteria, a bacterial cultures I’m lips grows, based on the environment, that it’s in

your culture, as a business is typically baked into your DNA as a company, it’s guided by your founders. It is guided by your values, the values that this founder set, and that the founders live. And it is guided by who you hire.

But and how you hold the people that you hire accountable for to and for those values. That’s the short definition of culture. And there’s not much you can automate at that macro level, you can absolutely automate individual processes, but not the culture as a whole. And even there, even though you’ve got to be careful. automation, by definition, is making what you already have work better or faster, right. So it tends to get you more of what you already have. Which means that if you have a bad culture,

you’re going to automate pieces of it like you know, parts of the hiring process that will get you what you already have, but more of it pastor.

A really good example of of where this went awry, last year was Amazon got itself into a whole bunch of hot water because they train the machine learning system and artificial intelligence system to

extensively speed up the hiring process. And they fed it a whole bunch of training data and said, I want you to take these pilot 500 resumes and give me the five people that I should call. And to no one’s surprise, except there’s apparently, it didn’t select any women. Why? Well, because all the training data they fed to it was heavily biased against women. So of course, the automation is going to get them more what they already have.

No one said, from a diversity perspective, hey, we may need to make sure this is gender balanced or ethnicity balanced or sexual orientation balanced or any of those things, it was not part of the computation, it was just a sort of almost blind automation, which is really, really bad. So automation will get you more of what you already have. If you’re not happy with what you already have, then automation is not going to be the answer for

creating or or pitch the culture cultures, cultures, a lot like a battleship, right takes a long time to change, it takes a long time to turn to go into new directions.

Even at small organization, it takes time. At our company trust insights, you know, we added one person, one person, one headcount in 2018.

And that changed the culture and the dynamics among the three of us, but not substantially, right, it took a while for us to be a slightly different company. And now. And part of that’s because when you have things like values,

you want to make sure that everyone adheres to those values. And so unless you’re radically changing your values, and not going to radically change your culture, particularly if you

if those values are are very people based things like here’s what we believe are here’s what we will not do.


can you automate culture? No, I don’t think so. Hey, you can automate individual processes, but funding mentally, culture is a

human, human centric function in the company. And you can create opportunities for people to express that culture in new ways.

But it is it is human first and foremost, it’s not something that the machine is going to do. And it’s not something you want the machines doing, at least not right now. Maybe has our technologies that natural language generation and our ability to get better at natural language recognition improve. We will see more thing more opportunities for machines to work with us.

But not soon.

Great question. super interesting question because,

yeah, it is a heavily overused term,

but they dine at separate tables for now. all bets are off for the future. As always, please subscribe to the YouTube channel and the newsletter I’ll talk to you soon want help solving your company’s data analytics and digital marketing problems.

This is trust insights as today and let us know how we can help you

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