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Can You Retrofit Your Colleagues for Digital?

It is a fairly standard challenge to be asked to make an organisation 'go digital'. Or more specifically make the people working there use digital tools and engagement techniques.

At an interview one of the most common question is 'can you give an example of how you got the press office/senior management/policy officials to go online?'

It is such a standard trope that many of us we have almost internalised this challenge.

My challenge is - why bother? Or to put it another way why waste our time on something that has a potentially small success rate?

Is there another way?

Instead of focussing on particular groups or teams why not focus on those most likely to be receptive?

If this is the case who is most likely to be receptive?

Firstly probably those already using digital in their personal life. So why not set up a blogging forum for anyone who blogs to share ideas? You might find a couple of people interested in blogging for you?

Again a Twitter user group might dig out another couple of volunteers.

Why not set up an internal digital secondment. Let people who are interested apply to work on your team for a week.

However perhaps the killer app is to focus on the young people joining your organisation. If there is a trainee or apprentice scheme arrange to meet them when they join. I know from experience that it is an easy assumption that they are all digitally literate. It is not always true, but on the balance, they are often ahead of the 'old timers' in your organisation.

So here is your chance to introduce how your organisation uses digital and the opportunities for them to get involved. It might be a bit of a slow burning success but as they move up the organisation you have just built your team of digital ambassadors.

So perhaps it's time to stop knocking ourselves out trying in effect to convert the unconvertable and focus on those who are already on our side and use that momentum?

There might be less war stories to tell at the next unconference but it could just be more effective?

Let me know how you get on.

Nick Halliday is part of the GovLoop Featured Blogger program, where we feature blog posts by government voices from all across the country (and world!). To see more Featured Blogger posts, click here.

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Tags: communications, digital, featured blogger, gov20, tech

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Comment by Peter Sperry on May 16, 2014 at 9:22am

"However perhaps the killer app is to focus on the young people joining your organization."

Can we please get beyond the "old people don't understand technology" myth?

Consulting gurus have been telling us this since the invention of the PC. But who do you think invented all that technology? Old farts have been ahead of the power curve on developing and deploying new ideas since Tom Edison and Tesla electrified the planet. In my lifetime, I've worked with 80 year olds whose hobby was programming their homemade PC and 20 somethings who chase every bright shiny tech fad without actually understanding any of them.

Experienced professionals tend to look at new technology, identify the value add (if any) and integrate the new potentialities with proven reliabilities quite well. Less experienced apprentices are more apt to jump at the new with more eagerness than analysis, discard the old for no reason other than age and clutter an organization with an ever expanding dust bin of tech toys of the moment.

In the past 5-10 years, organizations have been pushed to embrace: MySpace, Facebook, FourSquare, Piniterest, Instegram, Twitter, LinkedIn, DropBox, Snapchat, WordPress, Blogger, IChat, texting, IM, and on and on and on. Each new shiny object redefining diminishing return on investment. Meanwhile, the content organizations are pushing through these communication tools has been reduced to an intellectual level best appropriate for BuzzFeed.

Experience professionals are more than cable of embracing new technology. We have been doing so our entire lives. We just tend to discard it equally quickly if it proves to be nothing more than a distraction.

Finally, it might not be a real great idea to build tech evangelizing programs around age discrimination against old timers. The EEOC already has enough business, there is no need to provide more.

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