Digital does not have one overall definition. Thankfully the group avoided spending too long debating this! The key question to ask was ‘What does digital mean to City Hall?’. This aligns everyone around a shared language and a common goal and should the answer will differ from organisation to organisation.
Digital understanding does not equal digital skills knowledge. Digital understanding means to understand and know the implication of digital, the internet, data, etc. Digital understanding is about adapting to, questioning and shaping the way technologies are changing the world. As digital delivery expert Janet Hughes (Doteveryone) says:
“It is somehow still socially acceptable for leaders to say that they don’t understand the changes that have been brought into our lives by digital technology (… ) although it affects most aspects of our lives and most aspects of the strategy and operations of most organisations.”
Leaders need to understand enough about digital to make effective decisions, just as they do about HR, legal, procurement and finance.
Leadership in an increasingly volatile world means responsible leadership. Digital understanding and critical thinking are two key drivers of responsible leadership. In a world of constant, fast progress and high levels of ambiguity, leaders need to develop and nurture an environment that allows and rewards critical thinking within leadership, teams and people. We want to encourage critical thinking within the GLA to help shift focus on exploring the questions and defining the ‘problem’ rather than focus on ‘solution mode’. We’d like the organisation to move from an ‘in time, in budget, in scope’ mentality to a ‘is this the right question’ mentality.
We’ve seen that, as the programme progressed, the cohort were able to identify challenges and take these back to City Hall. This led to decisions being taken to improve our project definition processes and prioritisation, as well as bringing new behaviours into the Digital Board.