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There is no such thing as a technology problem

Have you ever been there, mind racing at 02:00 and you just can't sleep? It happened to me the other night during "Family Sleepover" (we watch a movie, eat sweets, and then all sleep in the lounge, it's great fun the kids love it and you get no sleep whatsoever!).

Digital: Its all about people

As I lay on the slightly-too-small-sofa in enough discomfort to prevent me from nodding off I was thinking: Delivery of digital services are there actually any technology problems? So I drew the this sketch (remember, it was 2am!)

My mind was racing: Digital stuff forms part of a service, a service is used by customers (people). Customers have different needs and you aim to convert members of the public (people) into customers. That's the top half covered!

The bottom half: digital stuff is supported by hardware and software. The service is created by the service delivery team (people) and then delivered to customers by the operational team (people). A good team will look outside the organisation at the talent pool (public) to find the best people.

Its all about people! So what can you do in the digital layer to get the right people.

Think about the people using your service

Looking at the top half again: you deliver a service that serves your customers and members of the public would want to use. How do you do this? You talk to them. Get to know your customers, get to know those people that are not your customers. Understand what they are trying to achieve (quicker, cheaper, better informed), not what they are trying to do (buy a pen)

Think about the people delivering your service

What about the bottom half? Let people know what you are doing. Code in the open, let people comment on it, change it, improve it. It may be that you spot your next development team member. Let people be curious.

Model in the open for the same reason. Don't tuck your service models away in some knowledge repository to never see the light of day, get them out in the open. Let people see what you do and improve them.

Blog, write, discuss, present, do everything you can to engage with the people that might move your organisation to the next level.

More importantly than this, empower the people you have on your team:

  • Empower them to be curious.

  • Empower them to ask questions.

  • Make it safe for them to learn fast from mistakes.

  • Don't manage by output (you must produce 50 widgets) or even worst by input (sit at your desk for 8 hours) but manage by outcomes (reduce cost per use).

A great story of empowerment

A ceramics teacher had two classes. Class 1 were told they would be judged on the weight of the model at the end of the year. They were empowered to learn fast and be curious. Class 2 would be judged by strict criteria: thickness of glaze, thinness of ceramics, uniformity, symmetry.

You guessed it come the end of the year, class 1 got better grades. Why? Because they experimented, learned, improved safe in the knowledge they could just submit a massive lump of clay at the end of the year. Class 2 planned and planned safe. They didn't want to get to the end of the year and have a pot that had collapsed!