Digital transformation is about mindsets, not skills
FutureGov has been designing better public services for the last ten years. We’ve learnt a lot, and one part continues to ring true — you can’t transform a service without transforming the organisation it sits within.
Transforming an organisation is fundamentally about working with people to help them do new things and work in new ways. There’s a whole industry built on workplace training with courses, curricula and training providers to fit almost any skills gap. But when it comes to digital transformation, this way of thinking falls short in several ways.
Traditional courses can’t meet the pace of change
The speed at which tech is developing moves a million times faster than learning curricula can be developed. By the time a course is written, never mind taught, it’s out of date. Software is constantly updated, so learning something once isn’t enough.
They teach the wrong things
If learning something once isn’t enough, we have to focus on teaching people how to learn. When a system is updated or a company adopts something new, it shouldn’t be a shock for employees. Adapting to new ways of doing things must be the norm. This presents a problem for a significant part of the training sector, in part because it’s doing them out of sellable courses.
When Citizens Advice moved from Windows to Google we ran it like a military operation. There was marketing, there was training, there were staff champions. It was a big shift. But after the initial move was done and the basics were covered, we focused on helping people to explore all the cool new things they could do.
Teaching people to move from Windows to Google (or vice versa, other providers are available 😉) is one thing. Helping them to feel confident Googling something every time their computer doesn’t do what they want it to is quite another. We had to help people understand that the answers were out there and to feel confident that they could find the answer themselves and bring it back into the organisation for everyone’s benefit. This was a real shift in behaviour and thinking, which brings me to my next point.
We need to think about mindsets, not just skills
There’s a big difference between doing digital and being digital. To get people beyond the doing — using new digital tools and building digital layers over analogue systems — and towards being digital, they need to adopt new behaviours and ways of thinking.
At FutureGov, we characterise good digital services as having these qualities: