Blog 6, 20 May 2014

Posted by on 20 May 2014 | Comments

In the National History Museum over the weekend, I came across this sign in a special exhibition called "Britain over the last million years". Part of this exhibition speculated on why the Neanderthal (despite being significantly stronger and having a bigger brain) disappeared after modern humans arrived on the scene.

Blog 6 sign v3

Social networking apparently gave modern humans the edge in competing for the same food sources.  

Social networking as a component of innovating forward really is in our DNA. We are also generally eager to adopt new technology if it's easy to use and helps us achieve things.

And you might recognise this guy ? he may be a relative; yes he is a (re-constructed) Neanderthal, but it turns out that all European and Asian people have up to two per cent of their DNA from the Neanderthal genome. The exhibition didn't say how that happened! 

Blog 6 history imageThe last few days in London have continued to be extremely productive, meeting people from a range of different organisations to find what we can learn from both successful and unsuccessful initiatives.

As I suggested above, people love to adopt new technology that helps them get something done. During the week I've talked to some great people from a number of sectors. Some have been in social services at a central government level/local authority level interspersed with completely different organisations.

A common feature of things that didn't go so well is where the technology was not actively endorsed or adopted by the end user or the customer. In fact, some of the time the end-user had formed a view that the technology was to be resisted because it actually ran counter to something important to them.

This is where the digital approaches we've talked about in previous blogs will be useful. These approaches enable us to test concepts early and ensure they will actually work for people in real life situations. It also means, where appropriate, adopting a product mentality to development rather than a project mentality. Teams put themselves in the shoes of the customer and propose new features that are inherently feasible and likely to get traction in the real world.

I've heard about many success stories. These include rapid low risk procurement cycles where you only ask the question that needs to be answered and let the vendor innovate to achieve a defined outcome. They also include changing the language. One organisation says that there is no such thing as a ‘pilot’, which suggests you might retreat. Instead of pilots there are ‘early adopters’ who learn and adapt from the experience. Also, the success stories come from IT being part of the business rather than being regarded a separate entity.

Certainly, I haven't gone anywhere without hearing  legacy system stories. There are some areas where these have become a real and growing risk to the business. By and large, though, there is room to progress the digital agenda while keeping a considered asset management regime in place.

Well the UK-leg of our study tour ended today. And we are now off for a visit to Copenhagen to see what we can learn from the Danes.

David