Be opinionated

To make things happen, it helps if you have opinions.

Apple are a great example of a company that has opinions. They express those opinions in their products, and like most opinions, some people don’t like them – but that’s fine.

For instance – lots of people moan about the lightning cable used to charge iPhones and iPads – why don’t Apple just use micro-USB like everyone else? The answer is because Apple is of the opinion that micro-USB isn’t good enough, hence the need to design their own.

Apple have made lots of similar decisions based on opinions – like whether the original iMac needed a floppy drive (nope) or if laptops need CD/DVD drives (nah).

GDS is equally opinionated. As an organisation, they have views on the way websites should work, and how they should be made. You might not agree with them, but there’s no doubting where they stand.

Opinions help in two ways. Firstly, they set you apart from the crowd (this can work in a good and a bad way, of course, depending on how appalling your opinions are). Secondly, they help you to move on.

Here’s a real world example. At the Department for Heath, I’m working on digital capability, as are lots of other people in lots of other organisations. Everyone has different views on what digital means, and what capability means.

Again, that’s fine. What we’ve done though is to have an opinion on what those things mean, and how they should be delivered. Quickly coming to this opinion has enabled us to move forward quickly, with the confidence that comes of having a good idea where we want to get to.

We’re not so opinionated, of course, that we can’t change direction if we need to. The joy of an agile approach is being able to respond to feedback and experience.

By taking a position though, and executing on it, we’ve been able to kick start our capability programme. Not everyone may agree, but then they probably never will.

So if you find yourself in a situation where a project is stalling, perhaps the thing to do is to have an opinion about it. After all, you have to start somewhere.

Need some help getting your digital approach right? Join me at my Achieving Digital Transformation workshop in December!