How to Know If Your Workplace Culture Is About Action or Stagnation

By Caitlin Denham-Swanson

Some of today’s fastest-growing companies owe their success to a shift in digital work culture that emphasizes speed, collaboration, and connectedness — a Culture of Action. Amazon comes to mind, with its “Bias for Action” enshrined as a core leadership principle.

The not-to-be-named companies falling behind, in contrast, are stuck in a Culture of Stagnation. They have clunky processes, disconnected teams, and slow decision-making. In the era of digital disruption, that’s a recipe for failure.

Does your company have the right digital work culture to thrive? Is it built for speed, agility, and innovation? Consider the three questions below to determine where you sit on the scale between stagnation and action. Your self-evaluation should focus on both your culture and the digital tools that shape how employees work together. (Hence, “digital work culture.”)

But first, let’s summarize the key differences between a workplace with Culture of Action versus a Culture of Stagnation.

Culture of Stagnation 


  • Siloed teams, “stay in your lane” attitude
  • Employees narrowly focused, too busy to contribute new ideas
  • Disparate, outdated productivity tools; collaboration via email
  • Data and resources isolated and difficult to access and share across apps


  • Slow decisions, delayed reactions to competitors and customers
  • Poor productivity
  • Diminished employee satisfaction
  • Loss of market share

Culture of Action 


  • Connected, agile teams; collaborative/sharing culture
  • Employees empowered to innovate, achieve results
  • Integrated, cloud-based productivity platform; mobile-friendly tools
  • Information is connected and instantly accessible


  • Faster, better decisions; laser focus on customer
  • Outstanding productivity
  • Happier, more fulfilled employees
  • Revenue growth

Get Honest with These 3 Questions:

Question #1: Are your teams connected to the mission — and to each other?

Aligning teams to larger corporate goals and strategies unleashes productivity and enables them to focus better and make decisions faster. There is a feeling of shared purpose. In a Culture of Action, geographically dispersed teams feel connected to one another and collaborate easily via mobile-friendly apps. Employees are visible and accessible online. Whereas in a Culture of Stagnation it’s nearly impossible to reach VIPs or get a response to an email.

Question #2: Does collaboration lead to effective decisions?

Does collaboration happen in email or other closed-off systems of record? Must employees jump from platform to platform (CRM, messaging, customer apps, etc.) to find the information they need to make decisions? Do team discussions go around in circles?  Yup, these time-wasters point to a Culture of Stagnation.

Companies with a Culture of Action embrace “purposeful collaboration” and are always focused on results and the end-goal. Thanks to a unified productivity platform, the information they need to make decisions — data, docs, spreadsheets, messaging — is right in front of them. Teams can come together quickly, share information and insight, and make better, faster decisions.

Question #3: Are your employees empowered to be collaborative leaders and innovators?

Are new ideas from rank-and-file staff ignored or unwelcome? Does a hierarchical management structure emphasize following job descriptions to the letter? You’re looking at a Culture of Stagnation. Teams don’t have the autonomy to solve problems and thanks to endless admin, they never have time to innovate.

In a Culture of Action, employees feel empowered to speak up and share ideas. But individual rock stars don’t earn the glory; it’s fluid teamwork that achieve goals and surmounts challenges. Perhaps more importantly, a Culture of Action gives employees the gift of time, thanks to faster collaboration and fewer emails and meetings. And gains in productivity allow for reinvestment in continual innovation and improvement.

So How Did You Do?

If your organization is like most, you’ll identify with at least some of the traits of a Culture of Stagnation. The process of creating a Culture of Action isn’t difficult. But you must combine digital transformation with cultural transformation: adopting new digital technology while also adapting existing processes and modes of work. With those elements in place, the stage is set for soaring productivity, a flurry of innovation, and bottom-line results.

For the full story on how to create a Culture of Action, download our ebook, The Empowered Workplace: How to Build a Culture of Action in the Digital Age.