Digital Engagement

Culture is at the core of digital transformation

May 19, 2017 by No Comments | Category Training & Skills

A few months ago ago I attended the Digital Transformation 2017 conference at Dynamic Earth in Edinburgh, bringing together professionals from private and public sector industries to talk about how we can, and must be better at delivering what our customers need.

Organised by DIGIT (formerly Scot-Tech), it was a full day of talks and discussions that were energetic and engaging right to the end.

One of the overriding messages that I kept hearing was that you must understand your customer in order to provide them with the products or services that they need, and the only way that you can really gain that understanding is to listen, listen, listen. And you have to talk their language, have no assumptions of what their needs are, and if you still don’t have your answers keep asking questions until you do.

There is no doubt that everybody there was on the same page whether you’re delivering a commercial product or  public service, we all understand the why and the how of digital transformation as well as the challenges that determine the scale of your success.

As a reiteration of something I said about the ambitions of the Digital Engagement Team, Bill Gemmell of Leidos said that digital leaders need to be: pioneers, team players, humble and driven; but he also said – forget ‘digital’, we just need leaders. I cannot stress how important this is, that by removing this term you also remove the idea that there’s a separation of responsibility. You might not have the word digital in your job title, but that doesn’t mean that the role of innovating and changing practices is the remit of only those that do.

Culture change

A key fact from the day was that 70% of digital transformation projects fail. Part of the reason for this is the culture of the people, organisation, and industry that is affecting that change. A driver of this is perhaps understanding the impact of the change – or a lack thereof?


So we are on the same page?…Some key takeaways:

1. For effective digital transformation you need a culture that can nurture that transformation

2. If you don’t properly understand the impact of the transformation should you really be doing it?

3. Listen to your users – they are the ones who can give you the feedback you need in order to design services that can have a real impact

4. Ask questions – talk to your users, ask them as meany questions as it takes to get the answers you need, not the answers you want

5. Talk their language – Make your time communicating with your audience as valuable as possible. Drop the jargon and policy speak, make no assumptions about your users.

How does this relate to our approach to engagement?

Here comes the broken record… audience, audience, audience. In our team we use a number of tools for helping colleagues engage with the public including social media, Dialogue and Citizen Space, and of course the Scottish Government blogging platform. The first thing I tell people is there is no right or wrong way of doing it; the second thing I tell them is that the first thing is not strictly true.

Mostly through experience we have been working on a bit of best practice guidance to steer the thinking around what is good digital engagement. The tools can help you get there but cultural attitude and your approach to digital transformation are the key drivers to success or failure.


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