For any digital transformation effort to be a success, it needs to have a organisation that is open to change to work with.
This is often a bit of a stumbling block, because even if you have an amazing digital team and a kick-ass programme in place, if the people across the organisation don’t understand what you’re on about, then you’re in trouble.
This is why one of the projects you need to initiate early on is a digital capability programme. This should provide just enough digital knowledge, understanding and – most important – confidence in the people you work with to keep things running smoothly.
There are a few different ways to approach this. Here’s some of the things I have found work well – you can pick and choose and adapt as you see fit!
Build your leaders’ digital confidence
There is no getting around the fact that you must have the buy in from senior people in your organisation. In fact, buy in doesn’t really cut it – they need to own this thing. Oftentimes leaders -whether they be politicians or senior management types – need a regular reminder of what really matters when it comes to digital and what they need to do to support this.
What I have found is that a one-off workshop is great for getting some excitement and momentum, but it’s really, really easy for that to dissipate if you don’t follow it up. I’d recommend getting workshops booked in for every other month with your most senior management team, if you can.
Another idea is to put in place a form of one to one coaching for senior people. Often they might not be willing to confess to not knowing things within a group context, so providing a safe space where they can perhaps be a little more vulnerable might be a good idea. It also helps foster your own relationship with them and builds trust, and gives you the chance to help them take a long term view of their need for understanding and commitment to the digital cause.
Digital champions or advocates
Building a network of enthusiastic and knowledgeable digital people across your organisation can be an incredibly useful way to spread goodwill about your efforts in departments other than your own. It’s really important though to avoid ‘milk monitor syndrome’ in creating yet another opportunity for people to volunteer for something nobody wants to do. One way to do this is to maybe avoid titles like ‘champions’ and instead go for something newer sounding – I like ‘advocates’.
One key thing is to engage with the already-enthused. Any network or community of practice like this will die a death if people feel they are forced to be there. Find those hidden, motivated digital enthusiasts who want to be a part of something and will make change happen because they want to.
Some of the things you can do to make your advocates network something people might actually want to join:
- Run face to face events as well as online networking to build trust in the network
- Make things available to your advocate network that other’s don’t get – whether early access to new digital services, learning and development opportunities or even just a sticker for their laptop
- Organise an excursion – maybe to visit another similar organisation to yours to see how they do things, or perhaps to a digital company in another sector
Big thanks to the digital doers community for their help in sharing what has worked for them building these internal enthusiast networks.
10 things you need to know
This is something I have been banging on about for a while, and I have seen it – or similar – done really well in a couple of places. To me there is a basic amount of knowledge that you would want everybody in the organisation to know about digital and transformation. Not the specifics on how to use certain products or services, or even how to run agile ceremonies or user research, but instead focusing on the big picture things people really need to understand to ‘get’ what you are trying to achieve.
This could be delivered in a number of ways, but I like the scalability of an e-learning course, one that could be pitched to anyone in the organisation, from the CEO to front line workers. It should give everyone the core knowledge they need, so you can move quickly when working with other service areas.
Internal blogging or newsletter
Working in the open makes things better, we know this. However sometimes we can work more openly internally, to let people know what we are up to. It’s a great way to spread your cultural tentacles, whether in the form of a regular newsletter or an internal blog. It helps you ‘show the thing’ to a wider audience than can attend show and tells, for instance, and can bring your weeknotes to more people’s attention.
You might worry that people won’t be interested but my experience is that people are way more interested than you assume they are – and if you can add some character and humour to your comms, that will help a lot too.
Come along for the ride
A final idea is to get people from other departments involved in the work you are doing even if they wouldn’t ordinarily be a part of the project. Digital volunteering, in other words. Say you have someone who you’d like to expose to agile delivery methods – why not invite them to play a role on the team, attend the ceremonies, and deliver some of the work. There is no better way of learning this stuff than by doing it and being surrounded by others doing it, and creating a way for people to get experience of it before being involved in a project they are truly responsible for is a great approach.
The importance of inclusion
I can’t finish this article without flagging up the importance of taking an inclusive approach to your capability building. People’s backgrounds can have a huge impact on how they engage with change and new ways of looking at work, and it’s important to ensure that whatever training, workshops or other learning activity you put in place acknowledge this and are built around the needs of those engaging with it. Take the time to understand the people you are going to be working with, and demonstrate that digital doesn’t just mean churning out cookie-cutter experiences using technology.
In other words, your capability programme should be a great exemplar of user centred design itself!