Helping leaders understand digital

Janet Hughes
Apr 20, 2017 · 3 min read
A quote from our user research.

Lots of people in leadership positions don’t understand enough about digital¹, or how to make their organisations effective and relevant in a digital age.

They know they don’t understand, but they also don’t know where to start learning without paying big consultancies a lot of money for proprietary information.

This is a problem because the decisions leaders make have a disproportionate effect on the rest of us. When leaders make poor decisions, everyone else ends up with bad things like services that don’t work, wasted time and effort, security breaches, and privacy violations.

We at Doteveryone have started doing some work to understand why that’s the case and what we can do to help.

Our aims

We want to create an expectation that leaders should understand digital technology just like they have to understand money, HR, or the law. Not be experts — just have a basic understanding.

At the same time, we also want to make it easy and attractive for leaders to learn what they need to know about digital technology. This includes using technology directly and also understanding how technology will have an impact on all the choices they make for their organisations.

What we’re going to do

  1. Digital essentials for leaders: We’ll help identify a core set of things that leaders need to know and understand, to give people a place to start.
  2. High quality, free, open, and actionable content: We’re working on producing and curating content that anyone can use to start to teach themselves.
  3. Digital mentoring: Building on our work with MPs last year, we’re working to develop a scalable model for digital mentoring for civic, public, and SME leaders. We’ll start with some test projects and use them to produce content and guidance so organisations can set up their own digital mentoring schemes.
  4. Self-directed learning about digital for groups of leaders within organisations: We’re working to develop a scalable way to support self-directed learning for small groups of leaders.
  5. Bringing people together: We’re going to help people who are working on this issue find other people to learn with.

It’s not just about technology

It’s important to have a basic understanding about digital technology and how it affects the way people expect to live and work. If you don’t have that, you can’t really hope to make effective decisions for your organisation, your staff, or your users.

But that’s not enough. Our work will reflect a broader understanding of what it means to be an effective digital leader.

Leaders need to create and sustain a culture, leadership, people, and processes to allow the whole organisation to be open, collaborative, creative, and responsive — the defining characteristics of successful and relevant organisations in the digital age.

Organisations that put these things in place — digital organisations — are demonstrably more likely to succeed.

Next steps

We’ve started talking to people (both digital experts and people who want to learn more) to understand their needs. We’ve already started working on some potential ways to present this kind of content, and we’ll start sharing that soon. Next up is starting to produce and iterate some of the content and beginning test projects in digital mentoring and self-directed learning.

We’ll be writing more about all of this soon. Meanwhile, we’re looking for partners, so if you’re interested in working with us on this then please get in touch!

¹ See for example: the Charity Digital Skills Report about digital skills in the charity sector; research from Deloitte about digital leadership and skills in the public sector; and research from MIT and Deloitte on digital leadership in businesses.


Stories from the team at Doteveryone.

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