Digital Transformation advocates, initiators and suitors (DevOps and Agile to name the most prominent) are all insisting on the importance of the culture transformation to assure the success of such a demanding and transversal process.

However, the way to attack this culture transformation remains a very volatile field of experimentation. In this note we try to shed some light on how Socrates and Spinoza’s philosophies can help transform your organization’s culture.

Collective Thinking and Emotional Intelligence to shape your new Digital Culture.

The complexity brought by the highly distributed and ephemeral digital systems cannot be handled in an efficient and sustainable way by traditional pyramidal and hierarchical organisation paradigms.

In fact, Conventional hierarchical organisation and collaboration models dominated by the command-and-control principle cannot cope with the expected speed and continuous innovation. Those models are inert, static, and therefore not well adapted for the challenges of the digital age.

Furthermore, the high reliability debt induced by the high delivery velocity resulting from increasing adoption of Agile and DevOps approaches needs higher level of collective intelligence (even higher than the one of AI and Robots!). Such collective intelligence requires a new management paradigm and a culture of overall healthy collaboration promoting real transparency, autonomy, trust, blamelessness and willingness to learn.

Before diving more deeply into this, we need to ask ourselves first..

What is an organisational Culture?

The most common definition of Organizational culture sees it as the collection of values, beliefs, and behaviours that guide and inform the actions of all team members.

Edward T Hall,  American anthropologist and cross-cultural researcher considers culture like an iceberg. He says “Some aspects, like behaviors, rituals and artifacts, are easy to see. Others like values and norms are trickier to spot. Being cognizant of all these characteristics- both above and below the surface-, is essential in shaping a culture that aids rather than obstructs, the organizational results you seek”

Culture as an inceberg

Executives and Leaders of the most mature digital organisations, also called DevOps Unicorns, are sharing in books, blogs and talks their values and their stories related to their OWN digital culture transformation. However, many organisations, leaders of non-high-tech organisations and teams, motivated to conduct such a culture transformation, are missing a practical approach to proactively tackle and manage a such needed culture transformation.

The Top-Down approach of the management communicating the new values charter, even if it is based on DevOps, Agile or Digital Transformation values shared by industry analysts or topic Evangelists, is seemingly not working. Since Culture Transformation is a deep change concerning beliefs, norms and behaviours, it inevitably requires an authentic and open involvement of the individuals forming the team or the organisation.

D. Watkins in his article in the Harvard Business Review adds “Culture is a process of “sense-making” in organizationsSense-making has been defined as “a collaborative process of creating shared awareness and understanding out of different individuals’ perspectives and varied interests.”

PhiloSolvis’ approach to Digital Culture Transformation

At PhiloSolvis Berne, we do think that Culture as the process of “Sense-making” cannot be commanded, defined or brought by external coaches and experts. Furthermore, organizational culture should be managed proactively by design rather than default. We strongly believe that organizations can learn from mature digital organizations, however, they should shape their own digital culture transformation as best adapted to their context, history, and people.

Therefore, PhiloSolvis does not provide or promise packaged and finalized solutions but takes pride in assisting and coaching organizations and teams in their culture transformation journeys. We approach this by collectively defining, adopting and living a new generation management philosophy, values-driven culture and collaboration practices based on self-management resp. distributed authority, wholeness and continuous collective learning.

Our coaching approach is therefore driven by developing the critical thinking of the individuals and collective problem solving to efficiently assist teams defining and exercising jointly with PhiloSolvis, an authentic DevOps or Digital values-driven culture and collaboration and model.

In this context we leverage practical and pragmatic philosophy patterns inspired by the illuminating works and pertinent concepts of Socrates and Spinoza such as:

  • the Socratic Maieutic (see 1) Method towards the “birth” of an own new Digital or DevOps culture and
  • the Community of Inquiry (see 2) Model to enable the collective “intelligence” managing the new culture by design rather than default.
  • Concepts and reasoning models of famous Philosophers who intensively worked on the topics like, emotions, self-transformation, sense and ethics at work, decision making, coping with changes etc
The Digital Culture Maieutic approach

In this context, we moderate on one hand the culture maieutic and dialog with the teams and support on the other hand in shaping the transformation processes if needed, by sharing good practices and experiences in similar situations in many other organisations.




To learn more about our offers and how PhiloSolvis can help your organization’s culture transformation, reach out to us on