Yesterday’s Digital Leaders‘ Salon was one of those exquisite events again I LOVE to attend: superb venues, an excellent format with great rules of communication and a great opportunity for networking individually.
Two lead discussionists from the Cabinet Office and AXELOS – promoting global best practice – set the scene in rather a provocative fashion which I can accentuate, due to my own experience. After all, I organised an international conference on Personal Growth and Social Transformation in 1977 and was invited to a conference on Organisational Transformation in New York in 1989 where I spoke about ‘Little Sister as an Alternative to Big Brother‘ in the early internet days.
Digital Transformation is now a new level and opportunity for learning, as “the internet is our friend.” But Agile is only a delivery mechanism! Culture and mindsets is what we’re up against! And Agile was necessary for IT developers.
IT users need different ways of learning how to communicate with software systems and in teams. On a human level, they need values, purpose and meaning spelled out, acknowledged, shared so that they enjoy working together, and they need to overcome all fears that prevent them from being themselves in a work environment. Why can many people not “just do it”? Why do we seem to need therapy on a personal level and transformation on an organisational level – to learn to adapt to change?
On an IT level, we need to lose all shame of not understanding and of not appearing too stupid. We need to explore and discover ourselves, rather than be ‘taught down’ in a classroom style where IT experts may know how to type to machines but cannot explain in non-technical terms what their system is supposed to achieve, let alone how to manoeuvre it.
IT has become ICT where C stands for communication. On a technical level:
- developers type to machines;
- machines ‘speak’ to users;
- users click and type to machines.
Agile methodology is meant to facilitate human communication among developers to produce good software well. But does it include training and feedback from user experience in the resulting software?
On a human level:
- users speak and type to team members;
- users speak and type to other teams, departments and clients!
Human communication in the Tower of Babylon has just become a whole level more complex and data silos have been compounded by ‘language silos’ besides colleagues not knowing each other in large organisations. But: digital has taught us that we are individuals. And that communication is a two-way process.
Active Listening is the most important skill that any Agile or other Organisational Transformation method needs to deliver and implement, in my view. Too many people are screaming to be heard and thus talk, talk, talk, without being able to listen.
Why am I so passionate about this? Because:
- I keep struggling as a woman in an academic, business and techno-world that is dominated by men for men as if women were the same; yet we have a different communication culture!
- I am seeking technology and training partners to develop courses in Visual Data Science where trainers are sensitive to people who WANT to learn but may have may unconscious barriers to overcome.
- I have software with new visualisation styles to offer that the world needs to understand structured data and images better.
I have become a software designer who can’t live without a laptop and a developer who needs his. The internet connects us. Together we are creating a Smart Knowledge Space that would not have been possible without my ‘outside the norm’ thinking. Thinking is an individual process, greatly aided by software!
No organisation should attempt to ‘normalise’ this human capacity. To the contrary: innovation and creativity can only flourish, if anything outside the box is valued, appreciated and encouraged.