It may be time to turn off Microsoft Outlook and just use Google – at least that’s what I’m thinking about doing following last week’s event Digital Technology and Cake, organised by Adapta Consulting.
The afternoon session included two cases studies. The first from Rob Gethen Smith who now works for Anthony Nolan but was speaking about his time as Chief Information Officer at the Southbank Centre. In the three years that he was there he managed to transform their digital operation from a system that could barely handle online credit card transactions at the same time as selling interval refreshments, to one that does such a good job at getting the basics right that they saw a 500% drop in website complaints within 18 months!
The second case sty was from James Higgott of The King’s Fund. He spoke about the necessary move from a centralised digital team to an independent model with individuals with digital roles embedded in each team.
There was then cake (it really was good cake!) and discussion.
What did I take away from the event?
1 – Fix broken things quickly.
It was Rob Gethen Smith’s first point, but it makes sense. You can’t get investment in digital ways of working from customers, staff or management if the technology just doesn’t work.
2 – Give people the tools and skills to work digitally
It’s no use just telling people to work in a particular way. You have to train them and also equip them to be able to do their job.
One, almost throw away, comment was to turn some of the traditional technology off and drive people towards using Google Apps. I tried this on the Thursday I was back in the office and basically it works. There are some challenges because I have an email filing system that was created in the world of Outlook (using folders) which doesn’t work so well with Google Mail, but I like the idea. I’ve been using Google Docs for a while and love the way it allows me to work collaboratively and remotely.
It also means that I’ve got some flexibility to my working environment – important things I can usually access as easily at home as I can in the office.
3 – Decentralise digital expertise
At Wycliffe I think we are already quite good at this. During the discussions I was surprised to hear that organisations were filtering all their digital content through one team (or even one person). It was their responsibility to write Facebook posts, Tweets or blog about their organisation.
Already we have recognised that this puts a huge burden on one person and that it’s better to decentralise. Allow others to post on the things that interest them and, if there’s good overlap with what they write and what represents Wycliffe well, we will repost as an organisation.
The next step is to have people in each team that pursue digital innovation. That ask questions about how digital tools could equip them to work more effectively or share information more widely.
This was a great event for me because I was able to dwell on the possibilities rather than the constraints.
I know that people struggle with digital technology and the perceived pace of change, but I wonder if the real issue is that digital technology forces the user to open up to collaboration. Working digitally means that you have less control.
The slides from the event can currently be found here.