Lacking leadership

Recently on my visits to councils and to conferences, and in the conversations I have with people across the public sector, leadership in digital has been identified as an issue.

I think the problem is that within many organisations, there’s nobody with sufficient clout taking the digital agenda forward: identifying the vision and setting out how people can get there.

Part of this is because digital doesn’t easily fit into any of the slots of the traditional organisation chart. It’s definitely not IT, nor (just) communications, and probably not (just) customer services.

Perhaps the closest fit would be within the organisational development bit of HR.

To kick start an organisation’s journey to become truly digital, having an inspirational leader in place is, I think, vital.

I’ll be talking about this in more detail this coming Monday, in a free webinar. Sign up here.

New free Think Digital webinar – 8th September, 11am

There was a lot of interest in my last webinar on Think Digital, where I talked through the ten principles fairly briefly, just to give folk an overview of what I am on about.

I think it’s time to go into more detail about how you can make this happen, so over the next few months I will be running a webinar on each principle.

The first of these will be taking place on 8th September at 11am BST. It’s on the topic of strategy, leadership and capability which are the foundations of the Think Digital approach and are vital to get right if digital transformation is going to take place.

Sign up for your free place here!

Digital transformation

The term digital transformation is being bandied about rather a lot at the moment.

That’s fine – people often argue about words and phrases and what they mean and whether they are helpful.

Usually they aren’t perfect but do a job as a sort of shorthand that everyone has a broad – if occasionally divergent – understanding of.

However, if by transformation people are meaning making a lasting and sustainable change in the way an organisation works (which is how I understand it), then I don’t think transformation is what you really want.

It’s a bit like words such as disruption. Disruption is a good way of getting people to notice something – but it’s not always in a positive way, nor in a way that will convince people to come with you.

Transformation to me feels big, and quick. Maybe that is what organisations want. I don’t think it is what they need though.

Developing the culture of an organisation is hard work, and it takes a long time. For digital transformation to happen, it needs to be incremental and slow. It has to be given time to bed in, for the laggards to catch up, for everyone to be comfortable.

It also has to take place in small chunks, not trying to fix everything at once.

Remember, ‘digital’ is all about small changes, made responsively in line with the needs of users. Not frantic efforts to build giant edifices.

Organisations need to use the mindset, skills and tools of digital to make digital happen, otherwise it makes no sense, and just won’t work.

So, if you’re planning a digital strategy, or are in charge of digital transformation, make sure you start small, iterate, don’t promise too much, and don’t be tempted to go for big, flashy high profile activities. They might make a short term splash, but won’t change much in the long term.

Reminder – if you need a hand with this stuff, the 10 Think Digital principles might be useful. Check out the slidedeck or the webinar recording.

Think Digital

I’ve found myself banging on a lot recently at events and other engagements about pretty much the same stuff.

It’s what organisations need to do to grasp the digital opportunity – but which isn’t about actual tools on the internet. At least, not just about that.

Embedded below is the first attempt I have made to write it up. I would really welcome feedback on this. If you can’t see the embed, download the PDF direct here.