Four ways to embed a digital culture in public sector organisations

Four key ways to embed a digital culture within organisations have been identified in a recently published report.

The State of the Digital Nation is based on a survey conducted by Agilisys and Digital by Default News, which draws on findings from a survey of over 400 individuals from private and public sector organisations.

Here are the four key tactics identified in the survey, along with some of the comments survey respondents offered, as they considered their own approaches and examples of best practice in developing a digital culture.


  1. Develop the workforce

Our survey asked professionals in both the public and private sectors whether they felt their organisations were prepared for the cultural and behavioural changes required to develop an empowered, networked and flexible workforce.

Whilst the technology solutions may come relatively easily, how engaged an organisation’s workforce is on the transformation journey, will ultimately determine how successful the shift to digital is. It might be that a gap in digital skills is slowing the pace of change because people aren’t equipped to make timely decisions.

In order to drive a digital agenda and reach their digital goals, organisations need to develop the skills of their workforces and explore different ways of working.


  1. Encourage efficient practices

Some respondents shared experiences of their organisations encouraging staff to work more efficiently by being more mindful, rethinking the organisational structure, or by instigating cultural changes. One respondent said their organisation had made efforts to strip out obsolete practices, share functions, map out skill sets, and “recruit… fantastic people”.

Involving all stakeholders was also seen as important; “engaging service providers and frontline workers to assess current work, to innovate and improve processes”.

Many also cited an active approach as key too: “The organisation is promoting quality improvement to a large scale and is encouraging every team to come up with at least one project that will improve service delivery. It is also supporting the teams to deliver as many projects that make a positive difference. The leadership team encourage staff to take up opportunities for training.”


  1. Foster confidence and independence

Reaching a goal as large and all-encompassing as going digital first requires all hands on deck. It calls upon a diverse set of capabilities, presenting great opportunities for workers in the public sector to develop their skills. This in turn fosters confidence and pride among teams, so that they feel empowered to make their own decisions.

As one respondent put it: “Digital projects are scoped, planned and delivered with the teams that provide the services, enabling them to learn first-hand the benefits and encouraging them to find more ways to improve service delivery.”

Another respondent said that encouraging faster decision making, introducing collaborative tools and new ways of working has enabled staff to see the possibilities of a digitally engaged organisation.

Support was also reported as an important factor: “[We] encourage… staff to initiate projects for quality improvement and … [give] them the support to deliver projects.”


  1. Reward innovative behaviour

Developing an understanding of how to nurture and foster innovative working ultimately comes down to leadership. Support and guidance from senior leadership on innovation strategy, and related priorities, can be one of the most important catalysts for driving innovation.

Some respondents reported schemes whereby people are incentivised to share their ideas. At least one organisation surveyed offers cash rewards for innovative behaviour. Another respondent said that there is a “growing culture of coaching and hiring people who show behaviours of being innovative”.

The creation of digital hubs are becoming increasingly common. These bespoke locations (virtual or physical) foster co-location and promote easy and constant interaction among different partners, industries and a wide variety of creative workers, from artists to scientists to engineers, whose paths would not ordinarily cross.

The full State of the Digital Nation report can be downloaded here.

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