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Should Digital Inclusion Be a Core Value?

Today, addressing digital transformation and digital inclusion through skills training effectively drop some employees, and new hires into a digital rip current. Those already digitally proficient will overcome the current, while others will struggle. This modality drives the definition of digital natives as an age group rather than a confidence level. 
Digital proficiency now requires the adoption and use of an insurmountable number of digital tools and technologies. The growth of these digital technologies is staggering.  Scott Brinker’s Chief Marketing Technologist blog lists over 5000 marketing tools up from 100 just six years ago and a Kleiner Perkins Internet trends report lists 50 and 90 cloud apps in use by the average department.  As a result, those proficient, digital natives, can ride the crest of the digital wave and separate themselves from those stuck in a digital rip current.

Today, employees cannot advance against the digital currents with traditional learning pathways. Years ago, you could select a software, take the training, and advance your career incrementally. That investment in development and training by both the organization and individual would last and have tangible returns. Learn Microsoft Excel, Lotus Notes, you were assured advancement based on the acquired knowledge.

Establishing digital inclusion as a core value moves inclusion from specific knowledge acquisition and training programs to a core organization value that allows the enterprise to diversify digital confidence, better recognize potential from wider sources and successfully onboard new hires to the enterprise’s continuously changing digital workflows.

Joi Ito defines this alternative approach in his book Whiplash as he describes MIT Media’s Lab’s ‘compass learning’ approach over ‘map instruction’. “A map implies a detailed knowledge of the terrain, and the existence of an optimum route; the compass is a far more flexible tool and requires the user to employ creativity and autonomy in discovering his or her own path. The decision to forfeit the map in favor of the compass recognizes that in an increasingly unpredictable world moving ever more quickly, a detailed map may lead you deep into the woods at an unnecessarily high cost. A good compass, though, will always take you where you need to go.

One example of a global leader developing digital inclusion as a core value to actuate their world with digital confidence is Barclay’s Digital Wings program. Here the emphasis is on exploration, awareness, ability, and confidence over specific technologies. The program does not target a specific role or technology; instead, it values confidence. While this one program cannot possibly create proficiency or address all the technologies and specifications needed by Barclay’s future workforce, they can by expressing digital inclusion as a core value allow their employees and customer populations to seek their own paths to grow their confidence digitally.

Digital Inclusion as core value can reshape how an organization values employees, candidates, and onboard them in this new digital economy. Recognizing potential from outside skills sets allows onboarding to focus on developing the digital confidence of new hires. Digital inclusion expressed as growing digital confidence allows their people to not only survive the constantly churning waters but also learn to effectively swim out of the digital rip current.

This is the thinking behind PerStart – bring digital inclusion to the onboarding process and assist new hires to reach their first day.

Additional Resources:
Ito, Joi; Howe, Jeff. Whiplash: How to Survive Our Faster Future. Grand Central Publishing.
Barclay’s Digital Wings Program.
2017 Internet Trends — Kleiner Perkins Caufield Byers
Chief Marketing Technologist – Marketing Technology Management Blog

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Photo by Jeremy Bishop on Unsplash