Unfolding plans 40 – digital is a personal journey

Reading may have been a long way to go for a conference, especially when I was up and down in a day.  Still, it gave me a chance to travel on the new Virgin East Coast and then to catch a train from Paddington.  I also got to visit the Madejski Stadium although I didn’t get to see much of it.  I’ve been there before.

It was the first time that I had ever attended the Executive Leader’s Network.  There are a lot of opportunities to network about.  I could probably spend every day away at some event or another.  I’m not sure how I got involved in this one though.  It is too far in the past.  If I remember correctly Anthony, the managing director of the network approached me and asked me to write a little blog piece.  It was on my own experience about the digital challenge.  I am no expert and would not claim that I had achieved what I set out to do.

My understanding of digital is a journey, a personal journey and I can persuade, cajole and encourage my colleagues to join me.  I can lead them to the water but it is difficult to get them to drink.   This is the question that I wanted to answer.  How can I work with the business to see the opportunity that I believe I can see?

I was reminded of the Book by Benny Lewis ‘Fluent in three months’.  He said the only way to learn foreign language is to stop speaking English.  For many of us who find ourselves leading organisations, digital is not our native language. We convince ourselves that we trying our best, learning as we go along but the pace of change is not quick enough. I think the problem lies to a large extent in that we are still wedded to our analogue worlds. We still think in an analogue way.

I agreed to lead a round table discussion.  The material for the event said that I would draw from my experience and help the group to understand how to lead the Digital Transformation.  I didn’t to do that.  I was able to share my experience but wanted the group to talk about where we all had got to and what works and perhaps what doesn’t.  This is the first time I have held such a group discussion outside of my own sphere of influence and so that’s another thing I had never done before (is this number five?)

I had a few questions to ask: What is digital?  Is it tangible or a way of thinking?  Is it about technology?  In the future will there be any non-digital business?  What barriers exist that prevent people from embracing a more digital approach?  Does digital take money?  Can a business case be developed easily?  How do we sell the sizzle in the sausage and move the discussion away from the technical to the benefits?

I only used half of them

It was a good event and I would have liked to have stayed for longer but there were a couple of things that I noted.  Not all things in the world of ICT are interesting to me and a tiny proportion of the audience was female.

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