Digital is something you are
so let your people be digital

Screenshot of sticker saying 'Digital is something you are'

I made these stickers a few weeks ago, to help the team I’m working with these days make a point and spread some love.

The point the stickers are trying to make is that “digital” isn’t about technology.

It doesn’t mean adding more computers to fix a problem.

It doesn’t mean adding a shiny new web front end on to an existing service.

It doesn’t mean swapping ethernet cables for wifi connections.

It doesn’t mean calling the first phase of your waterfall project an “alpha” and hoping for the best.

Digital is about people. It’s a way of thinking and behaving.

If you’re a leader or a manager of people, part of your job is telling them that they’re allowed to think and behave that way. Most people, in most organisations, will be nervous of doing so unless they have permission from whoever’s in charge. So if you’re in charge, grant that permission. If you want your organisation to change, or if you want to bring about true transformation, grant your people the freedom to think and behave in new ways.

Let them put user needs first. Let them design content and services to meet those needs. Let them work in agile ways, taking small steps, iterating as they go. Let them do lots of user research. Let them decide what the right solution is to each problem.

The consequences of doing all that that might well include more computers, new web services, better wifi in your office, and user-centered service design that starts with discovery and makes an alpha to explore new ideas; those, and many other things besides.

But none of that good stuff will happen until you give your people a mandate to change.

Tell them you trust them. Let them get on with it. Explicitly grant them permission to change how they think and behave.

Digital is something you are. Let your people be digital.

(If you bump into me in the next few weeks and you'd like one of those stickers, just ask. I'll have a few to give away.)

Filed under: work
(11 May 2017)