Developing a digital organisation

I published a post today on the Department of Health’s Digital Health blog about the work I am doing there building digital capability across the organisation

Here’s a quick snippet:

To my mind there needs to be a three pronged approach to developing an organisation to help it become truly digitally enabled. Those prongs are:

  • Strategy – an approach to digital technology and culture that demonstrates a thorough understanding of the opportunities and the risks
  • Leadership – encouragement and permission from the top of the organisation that digital tools are important and that appropriate access and learning opportunities are provided
  • Capability – confidence, comfort and skills throughout the organisation so that staff can make the most of the opportunities and avoid those pesky risks

The department has a digital strategy in place, and a digital leadership coaching programme is currently ongoing. I’ll leave it to others to blog about those. My job is developing our network of digital champions, who are a key part of our means of developing capability throughout DH.

So who are these champions, and what do they actually do – and why are they doing it?

The champions are enthusiasts for working digitally. This doesn’t mean they have to be experts in any particular technology, rather that they embody the digital mindset of curiosity, creativity and cooperation. In other words, they don’t need to know all the answers, but they do need to have an idea of how to find them.

Do me a favour and go and read the whole thing.

WorkSmart’s digital strategy workshop will help you make this sort of thing happen in your organisation.

Digital transformation report from Altimeter

A quick post as I am just back from a short break with the family and didn’t have anything lined up to publish today!

digitransAltimeter Group have just published a really interesting report called Digital Transformation: Why and How Companies are Investing in New Business Models to Lead Digital Customer Experiences. It has its own microsite and everything.

There are seven key findings in the report, detailed on page 5. I found the following most interesting:

1. Social, mobile, real-time and other disruptive technologies are aligning to necessitate bigger changes than initially anticipated.

3. Mapping and understanding the customer experience is becoming critical in guiding transformation efforts.

5. Digital transformation is driven partly by technology and also by the evolution of customer behaviour.

In other words, digital matters because customers are using it.

All in all, it’s a great report and well worth trading your email address to get access to it.


The Workplace – Q and A site for your career


I recently came across The Workplace – a question and answer site for people who go to work.

It’s built on the Stack Exchange platform – which has considerable success in building knowledge communities, particularly around techy topics. I personally find the WordPress one an invaluable resource.

In The Workplace, people are asking questions about how to deal with job interviews, difficult conversations with colleagues, bad managers and how best to use certain tools and processes.

It’s a fun idea and certainly seems to resonate with a big group of people as it is a fairly active community. Why not take a look?

Working openly on the web

dougbelshawThere was a nice guest post from Doug Belshaw from Mozilla on Brian Kelly’s blog last week.

Entitled What Does Working Openly on the Web Mean in Practice?, it told us a bit about Mozilla’s culture of openness and how it ties into web based working.

Here’s a quick quote:

Working open is not only in Mozilla’s DNA but leads to huge benefits for the project more broadly. While Mozilla has hundreds of paid contributors, they have tens of thousands of volunteer contributors — all working together to keep the web open and as a platform for innovation. Working open means Mozilla can draw on talent no matter where in the world someone happens to live. It means people with what Clay Shirky would call cognitive surplus can contribute as much or as little free time and labour to projects as they wish. Importantly, it also leads to a level of trust that users can have in Mozilla’s products. Not only can they inspect the source code used to build the product, but actually participate in discussions about its development.

But you really ought to go and read the whole thing.

Creative facilitation

cfFacilitation is one of those odd skills, or activities, where it is very hard to define, but you tend to know when it is being done well, or indeed badly.

Viv McWaters and Johnnie Moore are two people who can definitely be described as great facilitators, and they have collected together their combined thinking and experience on the topic into a free e-book, Creative Facilitation.

Here’s a quick synopsis of each section of the book, from their website:

Part One: Why Facilitation?

We explore the impact of facilitation and facilitators on groups, the qualities that make for good facilitators and some of the underlying philosophy that underpins our approach.

Part Two: Workshop Basics

The foundations of facilitating workshops.

Part Three: Beyond the Basics

…is about providing an understanding of how to engage people and use different approaches.

Part Four: Creative Facilitation

…explores some of the knowledge and understanding that helps facilitators step into complex, and sometimes difficult, situations.

Part Five: Resources

…provides suggestions for developing your own “toolkit” with what you learn from experience as well as useful links, resources and other information.

To get Creative Facilitation for free, you just have to sign up to their email newsletter. It’s a great resource, and given that the emails tend to be very useful as well, it’s a bit of a win-win.

Simplifying complex work

Yves Morieux gives a really interesting TED talk here on how to reduce the complexity of modern day work.

He has six rules to help make this happen:

  1. Understand what your colleagues actually do.
  2. Remove rules: Reinforce the “integrators” Integrators are managers. Give them more power and interest to make others cooperate. Remove the layers so they can be closer to the action. Stop making more rules that reduce the discretionary power to managers.
  3. Increase the quantity of power so you can empower everybody to use their judgment and their intelligence. Move away from insulation and give more people the opportunity to take risks.
  4. Create feedback loops that expose people to the consequences of their actions
  5. Increase reciprocity by removing buffers that make individual employees self-sufficient.
  6. Reward those who cooperate and blame those who don’t cooperate. The CEO of The Lego Group, Jorgen Vig Knudstorp, has a great way to use it. He says, blame is not for failure; it is for failing to help or ask for help.

Kahootz’s guide to a digital first culture

kahootzlogoKahootz is a cloud based project collaboration platform, which looks pretty good – and their blog is full of useful stuff.

Recently their CEO John Glover posted about “Creating a ‘Digital First’ culture in your public sector organisation“. In it he mentions four main points, which are well worth reflecting on.

1. Involve staff at the outset

While there are organisational purposes for going digital first, it’s staff who will make the change happen, so you need them to be onside.

2. Don’t assume management understand digital

Having management buy in is vital – but you need to make sure that it is at a deep level that demonstrates true understanding of the full potential of technology to transform working culture.

3. Start small – and give staff freedom to innovate

Taking an agile approach to implement a digital first strategy is most likely to succeed. Let staff try stuff out and see what works for them, rather than procuring a gigantic platform that you’ve no real idea will take off or not.

4. Be clear about what you want to achieve

You need to know why your doing what you’re doing. Unless you have specific objectives, how will you know if you are succeeding? Everyone needs to be pulling in the same direction, and to make that happen you need a shared vision across the organisation.

Some great advice there – would you add anything?

Do you produce documents, or do you do work?

I really rather like this video interview with Rod Drury, CEO of the cloud accounting company Xero. I’ve been a happy Xero customer for a few years now – the system makes accounting comprehensible to the non-accountant, which is great!

In the interview, Rod talks about Xero’s switch from traditional Microsoft based systems to using Google’s offering, with all the social and collaborative stuff that entails. He describes how the availability of truly collaborative technology has helped to drive a culture change at Xero, around nimbleness and flexibility.

In one great line, Rod asks “do you produce documents, or do you do work?” – a question we’ve probably all asked ourselves at some point in our working lives.

Watch the interview below – or here’s a link – it’s well worth it.