Are a lot of public sector chief execs out of touch with the digital world?

Is that a provocative question? Or just true?

Read on…

The best way to begin this post is with a confession.

I’m a little apprehensive about blogging.

Not because I’m a Luddite. Not because it doesn’t interest me.

There are stacks of videos on YouTube that reflect how web-technology is changing our lives – just like the one above.

I see the power of social platforms and behaviour-trends on the internet, and I’m convinced about the potential benefits to public sector organisations.

But – I suspect like many public sector chief execs – I’m a little wary about getting involved personally.

I’ve enjoyed seeing colleagues immerse themselves in this world of hash-tags. I’m excited about the skills and ideas we’re developing within Wrexham County Borough Council as a result.

But I’ve never quite been sure if I should get involved myself.

And it goes a little deeper than that.

Chief executives lead. Being a leader involves mitigating the risks to your organisation. And mitigating risk is about managing the variables and the unknowns as much as possible.

It’s an uncomfortable truth, but many public sector CEOs and senior managers worry about the way comments, issues and ideas can take on a life of their own once a conversation develops around them on social media.

The digital universe is vast. Just take a look at this diagram. It demonstrates the huge array of digital communications platforms on offer.

It’s the tip of the iceberg. And a little daunting. But I think public sector chief execs should be exploring this ever-growing environment.

'The Conversation Prism' by JESS3 and Brian Solis.

I believe that if you don’t encourage your organisation to experiment with the wealth of digital tools out there, you could be stifling creativity. And potentially putting the brakes on progress.

Do you risk steering your organisation to a place that’s completely out of touch with consumers? Maybe the risk doesn’t seem tangible, but it’s certainly there.

For me, the pace of change in society has become supercharged by technology. A little out-of-touch today could translate into massively out-of-touch tomorrow.

“Fine”, you might say. “My communications and marketing people are already immersed in this. They’ll make sure the organisation acquires the skills it needs.”

But I’m beginning to feel that isn’t enough.

To truly encourage creative use of digital tools and techniques within their organisation, public sector execs should embrace them too. They should develop their own individual knowledge, and use these tools in their day-to-day work.

A lot of private sector leaders have been blogging, tweeting and posting for years. I’m not so sure it’s ‘the norm’ in the UK public sector yet.

The fact is, it’s not enough to leave it to ‘the communications people.’ We’re all communications people.

And if we – as leaders – don’t understand the possibilities presented by social media and other digital tools and phenomena, will we ever truly encourage and grow their use within our organisations?

I won’t be the world’s most prolific blogger. I might not keep you on the edge of your seat (although I’ll try).

But I’m determined to grow my own skills, and help encourage the use of creative web platforms and tools within our organisation.

And to go back to my original question…well?

I hope you enjoy my blog over the coming months 🙂