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Taking your first step towards digital leadership

Taking your first step towards digital leadership

I presented at an inspiring senior leadership meeting last week, where a client team unanimously supported the vision and objectives for digital transformation we had crafted together.  One member of the team suggested that to be true advocates of the proposed digital shift, each member of the leadership team needed to take their own personal first step towards digital transformation.

How often have you met a chief executive who will express determination to seize the opportunities of social media, whilst never daring to tweet themselves? Or a marketing director who will moan about how difficult it is to get people to blog, whilst having never even commented on a blog themselves. And the list goes on. There’s the IT Directors who love the concept of the cloud for business but refuse to trust software as a service for their personal computing needs and the operations directors who bemoan the cost of print whilst refusing to view documents on a tablet.

Leadership teams need to fully explore the digital world if they are to be seen by their staff and customers as credible custodians of a digital future. So, I’ve collated a list of 25 mini projects to try alongside your day job. Not all of them are easy, and they will take some bravery and willingness to expose oneself – but then digital transformation isn’t easy and surely we shouldn’t ask our businesses to do something we’re not fully committed to ourselves.

Have a look through and see how many of these you have achieved. As a chief digital officer or similar, you should be close to a full house.  As a senior business leader, if you have completed less than five I’d suggest you have some serious work to do. Good luck and enjoy the adventure!

  1. Go mobile – try and book your next holiday, research a new product or service and purchase all through your mobile device
  2. Become part of the Twitterati – this doesn’t mean you have to tweet from dusk ‘til dawn. However seek out those you’d be interested in following, start listening and retweeting, then be brave a start a direct conversation.
  3. Power up on LinkedIn – really enhance your LinkedIn profile, add your published articles, encourage recommendations and start liking and sharing relevant content.
  4. Add a gadget – add a new device to your digital arsenal – choose a Kindle Fire, A Nokia Windows 8 phone or a Phablet and see how it changes your digital habits.
  5. Enrich your content – use simple online tools to record a short video intro and get it on YouTube, record a podcast and share it, or create a photographic slideshow telling a story.
  6. Blog off – not necessarily by creating your own blog but by reading those you admire, contributing to the conversation and perhaps guest blogging.
  7. Rate and review it – I’m sure you benefit from user ratings and reviews on websites, but have you ever written one yourself? If you have, has it ever been something other than complaining about a negative experience? Rate and review a few positive experiences you’ve had recently.
  8. Be QRurious – download a QR code reader to your mobile and start snapping QR codes off adverts and publications.
  9. Start V-learning – join a Mooc, start finding time to really explore the content on Ted or put aside time to explore interesting content on YouTube or Vimeo.
  10. Listen and learn – use Google Alerts, BlogPulse, HowSociable or Surchur to monitor your favourite subjects and see what the buzz is.
  11. Enhance your e-productivity – experiment with tools such as GoToMeeting’s App, Trello to do lists or Evernote and wow your colleagues with your new found efficiency.
  12. Make a website – discover the freedom and power of free or nearly free tools to create a website of your own. Perhaps around a hobby or interest, or as a project with your family.
  13. Set new rules – use simple services such as IfThisThenThat (IFTTT) to link up your digital interactions and impress your friends.
  14. Curate it - use Tumblr, or to curate content on a subject you love and share through your new found social channels .
  15. Internalise it – add a social collaboration tool to your teams working arsenal – try Yammer for internal knowledge sharing or UserVoice to run an internal staff ideas board.
  16. Switch to e-paper – choose your favourite printed publication – newspaper, magazine or reference book and go digital instead and see how it effects your content consumption.
  17. Get involved – find a specialist community that excites you, start listening, commenting and discussing and try to become a really valuable part of the community you choose.
  18. Join the cloud – find a cloud based product that replicates some of your daily requirements; email, back-up, project planning, image manipulation, and switch from installed software to a cloud based solution.
  19. Add an internet ‘thing’ – add a connected device to your digital ecosystem. This could be a NEST thermostat for the home, a Sonos wireless music system, or a home project consisting of a Raspberry Pi and a wireless dongle.
  20. Enjoy some face time – arrange a video catch-up with an old friend using Skype, Facebook Video Chat or Google Hangouts. Give yourself time to test the sound and picture before you go online, but then pour a glass of wine and treat it like a face-to-face conversation.
  21. Source the crowd – crowd source something you need, have a look at to get inspiration for how you could raise funds, share the labour, or source new ideas from the crowd.
  22. Share – teach someone more resistant to digital change how to do one of the above and get a buzz from realising that you are at least a few steps up the digital ladder from where you started.
  23. Visualise - create an infographic to sum up your new digital guru status – use Wordle, yourself or commission through to create something special and then share through all your new found channels.
  24. Virtualise your wallet – use Apple’s passbook, Google Wallet etc. to virtualise your store cards, boarding passes and cinema tickets and feel truly digital when you don’t have to rummage through that handbag or wallet next time you are at the front of the queue.
  25. Go digital free – by now you will be exhausted – take 48 hours off from all technology – I mean all technology – turn the phone off, unplug the TV, power down your wireless router. Reflect on what you value most about the digital world, and what you like least – use this to inform your future digital decisions.

Good luck and let me know how you get on!