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In this episode a previous guest Zena Everett turns the tables and interviews the show's host Scott to find out some of his war stories from over 20 years of digital leadership.
Check out Zena's episode here: https://www.rebeldiaries.net/1969403/11376735
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[00:00:00] Scott: Hi, I'm Scott Fulton, the host of the Rebel Diaries podcast. This show will help you learn how to make work better for you, your colleagues and the organization you work for. I believe the modern workplace is broken for too many people with leaders and their teams, drowning in corporate complexity, information overload, and unnecessary levels of stress.
[00:00:18] Scott: Having spent over 20 years leading disruptive high-performing teams who have won international awards for their impact. I've now dedicated my career to helping coach and train leaders and teams to deliver more value and impact at work whilst reducing the risk of burnout, overload, and wasted effort.
[00:00:34] Scott: This podcast is dedicated to you and thousands like you who know work can and should be better.
[00:00:39] Scott: You'll get tips and insights from me as well as the amazing guests I invite to be the show, many of them have disrupted their industries and are thought leaders, speakers, and authors who have fascinating stories and advice to share.
[00:00:50] Scott: Thank you for listening. I'm Scott Fulton and welcome to the Rebel Diaries show. "
[00:00:55] Scott: Hi Zena. Welcome back to the Rebel Diaries podcast.
[00:00:58] Zena: Thank you, Scott, for [00:01:00] having me.
[00:01:00] Scott: So we are turning the tables today, aren't we? You're gonna be actually interviewing me. I'm not gonna do, well, I'm gonna do probably more of the talking than I normally would.
[00:01:08] Zena: I thought it'd be very interesting to hear some of your war stories, actually, you and I are both interested in productivity and organizational bureaucracy and bottlenecks. So when we, when we had our podcast chat before, I thought, oh, I really wanted to find out much more about Scott's experience of them.
[00:01:24] Zena: So I thought we should turn the tables on you. Hear your stories this time, what do you think?
[00:01:30] Scott: Sounds good. I can only share things I'm allowed to share, so I'll have to just be careful.
[00:01:34] Zena: Well look, I just in, in my usual standards of rigorous research, I looked you up on LinkedIn and it says on the top of your profile that your company, so that is from the consulting bit of what you. Why am I telling you that? You know that , my company specializes in digital solutions that don't suck.
[00:01:54] Zena: And I thought that's great. So tell us about digital solutions that do suck. We don't [00:02:00] wanna know the good stuff. We wanna know the, give me, gimme an example of a digital solution that really sucks. What's the worst you've ever seen?
[00:02:07] Scott: Uh, the old intranet in the police force before I took over responsibility for it, but also, like many listeners I'm sure will find many intranets, if not most, are pretty terrible. And, uh, the reason is, It's usually built without any evidence. So it's, you know, chief executives or you know, or we, let's put this on the homepage and let's just use it as a corporate mouthpiece, which is completely missing the point depending on the organization, but certainly in the police and other similar sized organizations, it's a tool for people to get work done, and there's always a tension between corporate information.
[00:02:46] Scott: It's kind of push content, as I call it, like news and blogs and CEO's view on this, which is important, but that cannot and shouldn't get in the way of. When someone logs onto that intranet and they have a task they want to complete, like find a policy or [00:03:00] complete a form or, you know, do something transact, use a tool to get their job done.
[00:03:05] Scott: They shouldn't have to fight and wrestle through a search that doesn't work, or a homepage is just full of corporate messages and noise that just makes navigation impossible. So I think intranets are, are, are pretty bad and I'm sure many listeners will agree
[00:03:20] Zena: Yeah. So you mean the, the internet should be a kind of faq. I need to find this policy out. I wanna get there as quick as pos possible. So who in their right minds would clog it up with a load of nonsense?
[00:03:33] Scott: The problem in a lot of organizations is you rarely have a single owner, and if you do, they tend to be in the communications world, which is fine, but their job is to communicate to people and their job is turn the corporate. Announcements into stuff people will read. Now as we know, when people have a goal or an objective or a task that will drive that behavior.
[00:03:58] Scott: So what they're [00:04:00] not doing in my experience, in that position and aren't really given the responsibility of doing, is saying actually every day, does this intranet meet the needs of our users? When Joe Blogs logs, Do we know that they're achieving what they're trying to achieve quickly and without friction?
[00:04:16] Scott: And generally many organizations don't have that role. And in some organizations that's called an intranet manager. Um, but somebody needs to be caring about that every day. and using evidence to say, "are people searching stuff that's returning no results?" "Are people finding stuff or are they just getting fed up and ringing somebody for the answer?"
[00:04:36] Scott: And that's, that causes untold damage and waste across organizations.
[00:04:42] Zena: Yeah. Okay. So I, so I'm really interested in this cuz as I write about linking purpose to output. So, and basically it's just somebody saying, why are we doing this? So whose job is it to say, why? I mean, who, who should own the [00:05:00] internet?
[00:05:01] Scott: Yeah, so I can certainly talk from my experience. So I was responsible for the intranet. The new one that, it's not new anymore, but when I took it over, the older one was diabolical because it was jointly owned between corporate communications and IT, so nobody owned it. Then it had their motive, which was keep the lights on, make sure it doesn't fall over.
[00:05:20] Scott: Corporate comms. Can we put the biggest banner we can on the homepage from the chief constable? So there was nobody saying why. You will know as well, you get the, the solution handed to you "oh we need to do this".
[00:05:31] Scott: And a lot of people don't feel they can challenge that. And they go, oh yeah, alright then I'll just put it on. I'll just put this content on and then it just gets forgotten about. Whereas I would, and my team would always say, why? why does that need to go on? We need to know why it needs to go on. So we know whether it's gonna meet the goal of our users, but rarely people are thinking about that.
[00:05:52] Scott: And you get a lot of vanity content on Intranets where HR wants to shout about how great they are. And they say, put all this stuff on the homepage. And then somebody goes, [00:06:00] okay, nobody goes, why? Or, and, and you have to have that mindset of almost protecting the organization from itself. And that why is the, is the magic word for.
[00:06:11] Zena: You mean somebody and their objectives has got put post something on the internet every week at least once kind of
[00:06:17] Scott: Oh, yeah,
[00:06:18] Zena: And so they're just posting stuff up, but nobody's ever said, why have you put that up and could you actually put that message up in a sentence rather than two pages of,
[00:06:27] Scott: Yeah. So I, I can actually give a a quite scary example. So we had, when we were doing the research on the old intranet just to kind of look at what content and in the end we scrapped everything and started again. But we were assessing what stuff will need to go on the new one. And
[00:06:41] Zena: find any.
[00:06:42] Scott: no, it was awful.
[00:06:43] Scott: It was awful. We did a survey and somebody said, it makes my eyes bleed. Somebody else said, it makes me lose the will to live . Someone was like suicidal. One person said, I like it. And I said, they've definitely got Stockholm Syndrome, but um, but no, this, we, we, we came across. Uh, lady who was [00:07:00] putting these reports on every, I think it was twice a week.
[00:07:03] Scott: And, she was in, I think she was in the Operations Department. So we went and spoke to her and we said, okay, you tell us about these reports. She said, well, I, yeah, I put these on twice a week and they're really important. And we said, okay. Why are they really important?
[00:07:14] Scott: She said, well, because officers need to access the data. And we said, okay. So then we looked at the stats and four people a week, were downloading that out of a six and a half thousand organization.
[00:07:28] Zena: and one of them was
[00:07:29] Scott: Well, it was probably her, maybe her boss. So we said, you are relieved of that duty,
[00:07:35] Zena: Yeah.
[00:07:35] Scott: not need to do that anymore because nobody's looking at it, or very few people are looking at it.
[00:07:39] Zena: I'm writing a book on organizational fat bergs and I reckon I'll come back to you for that for That's a fabulous case study. That's exactly it, isn't it? There's people and processes that are just big bottlenecks, and this is a problem with your area of kind of digital content. It's just another layer of huge work on top of [00:08:00] the real work and a whole load.
[00:08:02] Zena: messages, and we're just all overwhelmed, aren't
[00:08:04] Scott: Yeah.
[00:08:05] Zena: So,
[00:08:06] Scott: the, the word I I like to use is friction and it's friction from people trying to achieve their goal. So friction because the search is bad. Friction because the navigation doesn't make any sense friction because when you do find the content, it's so long and full of
[00:08:22] Zena: Yeah,
[00:08:23] Scott: masses of text. Anything that's friction from you trying to do your job becomes frustrating and, and then causes knock on effects in the organization.
[00:08:31] Scott: So a very senior, I think he was head of finance in the force he said, oh yeah, I get calls about three or four times a day from somebody trying to find, or different people trying to find a, a document on the internet,
[00:08:45] Zena: Yeah.
[00:08:45] Scott: he just like would then have to email them where it was , but he just had to keep doing it every day. That was just one we found how much was that happening elsewhere in the organization? And it's almost like people just accept that the internet's awful and that [00:09:00] it
[00:09:00] Zena: Okay, so somebody listening to this thinking, ouch, this really resonates with me. How do they audit this stuff in their own organizations? What would you say to them about it?
[00:09:10] Scott: well I'd say come and speak to me and my, my organization cuz we can help. so I did a talk. It was remote and it was in Russia and it was before Putin did his thing. So I kind of keep quiet about it, but one of the questions after my talk was, what would my advice be for either, cuz one of the challenges that people have is do you just scrap it all and start again?
[00:09:31] Scott: Or do you spend a lot of time doing a content migration and try and pick apart and say, all right, well that's okay, but we need to rewrite that. Depending on the scale of it, and depending on. bad it is. I would, my advice would be you'd need to start again and start with core foundation principles.
[00:09:49] Scott: What are the user goals? Identify them. But the problem is, what most organizations do is let's design the homepage first. Cuz that's the pretty thing
[00:09:56] Zena: Yes.
[00:09:57] Scott: See, it needs to be led based on evidence, on user [00:10:00] need.
[00:10:00] Zena: yeah. And a few, why are we doing this? Maybe like why, why, why? See, even from an old Doris like me, even those words like content migration, you just think, oh God. Like everything is so complicated, isn't it? Rather than somebody just saying, let, let's just put a bomb under the whole lot and just start again.
[00:10:19] Zena: Like content migration. You just think it's all. They're all non-job, aren't they?
[00:10:24] Scott: Yeah. And it's someone spending far too long of their life in a spreadsheet basically.
[00:10:28] Zena: Absolutely right. Rather than just looking at it and thinking, yeah, I know. I know. Okay.
[00:10:33] Scott: 90% of that intranet content is not getting looked at. So you've probably not got a lot to lose.
[00:10:38] Zena: yeah. But do you think people don't know that or are they just looking at the stats and kind of faking them where they're saying, , you know, I mean, surely there's some meetings, somebody is actually saying how much of this is actually looked at and downloaded? I mean, or do people not know the questions to ask?
[00:10:56] Scott: Probably not. And I think because of organizational business and chaos, that's the [00:11:00] last thing. They just don't even have time to, to look at it. And it's, you know, we help people who don't have time to look at outcomes. So it's like, well, I just do this work and then jump to the next thing. And potentially a wasting your time if you can't actually stop and check if you've done any good or delivered any value.
[00:11:18] Zena: What do you mean they don't have time to look at outcomes? I mean, isn't that people's jobs?
[00:11:23] Scott: Are you being sarcastic. Zena?
[00:11:26] Zena: No. Should we tell everybody we're recording this on a Sunday afternoon and maybe we're a little bit nasty? speaking for myself, but I mean, isn't that ridiculous that people are doing stuff and N not thinking, why are we doing this?
[00:11:38] Zena: And they're not measuring to find out if it works.
[00:11:42] Scott: Yeah. So I recently did a survey of 32. Teams
[00:11:48] Zena: Yeah,
[00:11:48] Scott: space, and I think it was 52% of them were asked to do work that they didn't agree with. that's the classic bosses just do it.
[00:11:59] Zena: [00:12:00] Yeah,
[00:12:01] Scott: you know, I think it was 79% spinning, too many plates overloaded and I think it was somewhere like 60%.
[00:12:10] Scott: I'm just making them up. They're around that. Um,
[00:12:12] Zena: yeah, yeah. A big
[00:12:13] Scott: Said they don't have time to measure outcomes,
[00:12:16] Zena: right?
[00:12:17] Scott: so how much work is potentially just, yeah, if it's based on a made up lack of evidence thing in the first place, there's a very good chance it's gonna fail and then you spend a load of time doing it and then you don't have time to confirm that it was a fail and move on to next.
[00:12:30] Scott: Similar thing, that's gonna be another fail , it's just dysfunctional.
[00:12:33] Zena: And, and I suppose there's a whole load of other variables anyway. You could blame something else for why it's not being downloaded. Couldn't you? Oh yeah. It's you working this project over here or something? Yeah. God, how do I, so how do I get a job like that? That's what I wanna say. So, um, so if there was one behavior change then across your client base that would put you outta work, what would it be?
[00:12:59] Scott: [00:13:00] Well I think they need to just employ user champions. Somebody who actually cares about or give somebody the responsibility. If it's not that easy, it sounds like a
[00:13:09] Zena: here's more.
[00:13:10] Scott: just employ somebody.
[00:13:12] Zena: What is a user champion.
[00:13:15] Scott: someone who cares about the customer. So somebody is like an intranet manager who says, you know, as I said, every day.
[00:13:23] Zena: Yeah,
[00:13:23] Scott: Are, are people struggling? do I, how do I help them achieve their goals? Because you'll know as, as well as many of the listeners that you, if, when organizations of a certain scale, you then get the whole siloed thinking and siloed working and compound that with a vanity content of, well, HR wants a bigger slot on the homepage than
[00:13:44] Zena: Yeah.
[00:13:45] Scott: in IT.
[00:13:46] Scott: Then somebody has to keep a grip of that, or it just become Chaos. So somebody has to and and the way we tackled it was we built it with evidence from the start and said, right, and got every department head to [00:14:00] sign up to that. And I said, if we don't want this new internet to go back to the way the old one was, you're gonna have to trust my team to follow this process of seeking evidence, not agreeing to everything, just cuz you are the most senior person in the room actually not putting everything on.
[00:14:16] Scott: Because if you try and please everybody, you'll please very few. And, you know, the whole 80 20 principle, uh, and we got that like almost written in blood and it did still get, become challenging. People say, oh, we wanna put this on, or we'll go and speak to the chief. And, and we'd like whip out, whip out the document and say, we all signed up to this, I'm responsible for this intranet.
[00:14:37] Scott: I'm not gonna let it go back to how it was. And, you know, to some people I was quite unpopular because, uh, Scott's never gonna let that go on the intranet. They almost didn't bother asking anymore. I was, I was to sleep at night cuz I was doing it for the right reasons.
[00:14:49] Zena: yeah, yeah, for sure. So how come, so you came up through, you know, digital world. How come you are able to get clarity on this and other people can't? [00:15:00] I mean, we talk about it. You make it like all clever people. You make it sound so simple and obvious. How did you actually manage to rise above all this?
[00:15:08] Scott: Can pinpoint the exact day. I can't remember the date, but,
[00:15:11] Zena: Oh, I love this. I love a seminal moment. Yeah.
[00:15:14] Scott: so I had a massive wake up call slap in the face a long time ago now. So what a lot of teams do, and my team fell this trap was we were primarily a website team for most of my career and building services for citizens, and we built a shiny new website.
[00:15:30] Scott: By just my team in the office going, Hey, this looks cool and let's put this over here and this is cool, and let's do this without any evidence, without speaking to the customers, without any testing. And I'm embarrassed to admit this now, but we, we arrogantly did that. And then a bit too late came across a company that did user testing.
[00:15:49] Scott: So that basically meant that my team went along to watch, real members of the public in a hotel room and we were in another room watching them on a camera. They knew they were being [00:16:00] watched, they didn't know what website they're coming to test, and a facilitator basically asked them to complete some tasks, and we are watching them on the camera.
[00:16:06] Scott: We can see their screen, we can see and hear them. So, right. Can you now try and find. and we were watching them using our site for the first time and they struggled so badly. And my team are there like going, it's there on the right, it's there. Why can't just, just click it, it's there. Why can't you see it?
[00:16:23] Scott: And, and, and that to me just suddenly took all that arrogance away of, there was a feeling that because I was the web manager, I had to know what our users would do. But actually I thought, actually, I have no idea what our users would do. So the only way to find out what users do, , get them to use it and test and learn and observe.
[00:16:41] Scott: So really what we should have done is done that testing very early on with a wire frame of the website. So just a, you know, not a real site, just some links and that kind of stuff. But we did it all the wrong way, so, That immediately was a milestone for me to say, right now I'm okay to doubt myself. I'm okay to say to other people we don't know.
[00:16:59] Scott: And [00:17:00] that would be my defense when I would get, I'm not kidding, police officers with the right intention designing webpages in Word in their spare time, and they're emailing it to me and say, I've designed a new webpage for the website, and I'm like,
[00:17:12] Zena: Yeah.
[00:17:13] Scott: I, I haven't told you how to arrest somebody or whether you should or shouldn't.
[00:17:18] Scott: Thanks for that, but.
[00:17:20] Zena: Yeah.
[00:17:21] Scott: So yeah, so I would then go back to, I don't know what our users are gonna do. So how do you, you are a police officer in the nicest possible way, and that's quite disarming cuz then they go, oh, Scott don't know then. Hmm, maybe we should get some evidence.
[00:17:35] Zena: Yeah. Okay. So it sounds like it's just, you actually think about the user. You put the
[00:17:41] Scott: All the time.
[00:17:42] Zena: yeah. Yeah. As opposed to getting carried away.
[00:17:45] Scott: Yeah. It's that customer centricity for what you, you jargon again, but that I think organizations can forget about. It's almost like they've become very internally focused and forget , why they're even there,
[00:17:59] Zena: [00:18:00] Don't you think they've got a mission on their wall though, and all those values that no one can ever remember?
[00:18:04] Scott: yeah, exactly. That solves all the problems or a strategy on the shelf that nobody reads.
[00:18:09] Zena: Yeah. Yeah. Big time.
[00:18:12] Zena: So, Scott, tell me, uh, uh, the life of a digital leader these days must be pretty overwhelming. What advice would you give them? They're, they're taking their dog out for a walk at 5:00 AM or something and listening to your podcast cuz that's the only me time they get and they're listening to this. What would you tell them?
[00:18:29] Scott: So I think one of the things I would say and. Pretty major. For me, it was just accepting you cannot do everything. And there's a, there was a time when I felt just overloaded and like, you know, everybody's fighting to have stuff on the website or on the internet and all you can do, and it's a phrase, I can't remember where I got it from, when I should give him credit.
[00:18:53] Scott: I think it was in a book, but it was if you ever feel overwhelmed, you just don't know what to prioritize next. So for [00:19:00] me, everything is about prioritization and saying, actually, how do I make sure I'm working on the highest value? And then you get into how do you prioritize, and then you have to have some metrics around what's gonna move the needle for the most customers or the most employees, if it's internal.
[00:19:16] Scott: Um, how much evidence if is there that this is the right thing to do? if there isn't a lot of evidence, that would be alarm bells to say. , we need to go and get evidence before we consider this work. Achievability as well. So actually how, how achievable is it for you or the team to actually do the work?
[00:19:32] Scott: Is it like a six month thing, it's just too big. Can you break it down? Also then is continually reviewing those priorities and not having that fixed approach. So for me, that would be the one key bit of advice I would give is, Try not to take any everything on. Try and organize work, get it out of your inbox and post-it notes and put it into a tool like Trello or something similar to just try and have a single priority list.
[00:19:56] Scott: which sounds easy to do, but when you get there, it transforms things. [00:20:00] But give transparency of that with your colleagues and your bosses and say, right, you know, here's what I'm working on. Here's how it's prioritized. You've just asked me to do this. Where do you think it should go? And I would actually co re-prioritize whenever possible with people.
[00:20:12] Scott: So they come with their pet projects and I go, well, here's what I'm working on. Here's how it's gonna give loads of value to loads of employees or citizens. And they go, oh, actually yeah, I'll, I'll come back in six months. . So, yeah.
[00:20:24] Zena: Yeah. Yeah. Okay. But that's, that sounds, that sounds all right on paper. , but when people are, and you are, you are dead. Right? But when people are kind of crazy, busy and overwhelmed, they might be thinking, yeah, look, I haven't got time to work out my priorities because everybody's just throwing stuff at me.
[00:20:43] Zena: And what type of, what type, how did you manage to rise above all that personally when you were running your teams?
[00:20:50] Scott: Hmm. It wasn't a sudden change that I can recall. I think it was more just a gradual shift, um, because [00:21:00] yeah, I was crazy busy. I was working, you know, the only time I could already catch up with deep work was weekends. , which is just unhealthy. I wasn't an entrepreneur then. I was, you know, employed nine to five Monday to Friday.
[00:21:12] Scott: And then I was so busy and I'm sure many people has resonate with is like, the only time I can actually get to concentrate is doing a long evening or, and that's just not sustainable. So
[00:21:21] Zena: yeah.
[00:21:22] Scott: I think it was actually, I think starting to use evidence-based thinking gave me confidence to start to push back on things.
[00:21:30] Scott: And I think it was a gradual. Um, process, but being able to say, sorry, I can't do that. We need to get some evidence. And rather than just being a yes man.
[00:21:41] Zena: How'd you say? No, constructively. I just know people will be saying, yeah, how'd you do that? So what's your secret for saying no constructively?
[00:21:49] Scott: so I wouldn't probably directly say no, but I would say, how do we know this is the right thing? why does this need to happen?
[00:21:56] Zena: that.
[00:21:57] Scott: So yeah, how can we, if we don't know, [00:22:00] can we, can we find out together? So try and take them on that journey rather than just, no, I'm not putting it on
[00:22:06] Zena: Okay, so that's your, that's your bit of evidence.
[00:22:09] Scott: Yeah,
[00:22:10] Zena: So yeah, I can do this, but what's gonna have the maximum impact and how do we know that?
[00:22:14] Scott: you're trying to, not, not maliciously, but you're trying to put that little seed of doubt in their mind when it's certainly an ego-driven. Request or a vanity request, or it's a pet project, that, and you can usually spot those . Um, but just to go, actually, how do we, how can we work together to find out if this is the right thing to do?
[00:22:37] Zena: And has anyone ever got nasty with you and said, I don't wanna work together, I just want this up in my sight today?
[00:22:43] Scott: so I did have a couple of, I got summonsed to a couple of very senior board meetings. so one example was, wellbeing. There was a load of wellbeing content and it was because it's the police and you know, it's important, but there was like 15 different [00:23:00] wellbeing initiatives rolling out.
[00:23:01] Scott: We got an app for this, we got this and that, and my team were like trying to organize it in a way that made sense and, and then I was asked, oh, we want a big wellbeing banner on the homepage. I. Nope, not doing that because, and then we looked at the evidence before I got summoned the meeting, well, I was summoned, but in prep I looked at the data and I said, actually this is, and it was quite a stark.
[00:23:25] Scott: I was surprised myself. So I went to the board meeting and I said, okay, what's the problem we're trying to solve? We think if we put a banner on the homepage, more people will find the wellbeing section. So I said, the wellbeing section is in the top 20. Where do you think it sits? And most people are like, oh, 2019. I was like six. It's the sixth most viewed section of the internet at the moment, and that's without a banner on the home page. I said the problem is not, people can't find it. The problem is I think there's too much on there actually , and we need to start to reduce it.
[00:23:55] Scott: And are we actually speaking to people and saying, is it meeting their needs? And so that was the way I [00:24:00] handled that because it was just a corporate, you know, people sit in a board meeting to go, why is Scott not putting a big red button on the homepage that they think everyone will click ? And it was the same.
[00:24:10] Scott: We had a, um, the ipr, so I'm, I'm using jargon here, so the personal development review. So they probably go under different names in organizations.
[00:24:19] Zena: Yeah.
[00:24:20] Scott: Year on year, you know, tracking the completion rate and it wasn't particularly great. Next year, we'll relaunch and it'd be really popular. And again, I had a summons because I wasn't putting a big thing on the homepage about it.
[00:24:31] Scott: Looked at the data. Yeah, probably like thousands of people a month were actually clicking on this thing. But that was because the system also held role profile information for people's personal role profiles.
[00:24:42] Zena: Right. Yeah. So that that's what they were looking
[00:24:44] Scott: Yeah. So I said the problem is not, people cannot find it. They know exactly where it is. The problem is people don't care.
[00:24:52] Scott: and putting a big banner on the homepage won't make them care anymore.
[00:24:55] Zena: no, no. Isn't that interesting? So it is all gonna be joined up, hasn't it? Because if [00:25:00] they don't trust the organization, you can put any old stuff on the, on the intranet, they're still not gonna trust
[00:25:06] Scott: No. Exactly.
[00:25:07] Zena: So
[00:25:08] Scott: And if you start shouting at them and interrupting them for what they're trying to do, they're just gonna get, get blind to it and get annoyed by it.
[00:25:15] Zena: I mean, personally I'm as, I'm always really grateful when there isn't a lot of content and it's very simple. I send out a monthly article and I've just realized that when it's only a couple of paragraphs, I get more responses from people saying, yeah, I love that
[00:25:33] Scott: Yeah.
[00:25:34] Zena: than when I send loads of, you know, anyway.
[00:25:37] Zena: It's hard, isn't it? It's hard to cut your content short, but we're not getting paid by word. Are we getting paid for?
[00:25:44] Scott: Yeah. And and people's attention span is, isn't it so short. They'd be like, they see a mass of text, so like, I ain't got time to read that.
[00:25:51] Zena: No, no, no, no, no. So, so what would you say it takes these days to be a really successful digital leader? What are the [00:26:00] competencies of people that can make it.
[00:26:04] Scott: So depending if they're managing a team, which I, I'm sure they probably are, , good leadership, good modern leadership skills as I would call them. So being humble. Being comfortable that the people you've employed are probably smarter than you, uh, and not trying to have all the answers.
[00:26:20] Scott: That was one of my very early learnings in my career was feeling that I had to have all the answers. And again, it's the humble bit is about saying, I don't know what I don't know, and that's okay. And I'm comfortable telling my team that my job as a leader, As a digital leader is to create the environment for the team to be super successful, get 'em as close to the customers as possible, get them to have that evidence-based mindset, uh, trust them, and then frankly, get out their way until they need you.
[00:26:49] Scott: That would be kind of how I'd kind of summarize that, I think.
[00:26:52] Zena: Yeah, yeah. Okay. And that sounds like the competencies are all good leaders, the kind of, and all the asking [00:27:00] questions things. Is there something specific about being a digital leader though, as I'm full of admiration for them? Cuz I couldn't be one. I just always. You guys are just a possibility. Logical sounds wrong.
[00:27:12] Zena: Cause I'm logical, but you know what I mean. Is there a sort of thought process? You can't bessy if you're a digital leader, can you
[00:27:19] Scott: Can't be what? Sorry.
[00:27:21] Zena: Ssy?
[00:27:21] Scott: No. Well, maybe there's probably some out there. I might have been at one time.
[00:27:25] Zena: Creative. We'd call it in your case, not Scatty, but anyway. Yeah.
[00:27:28] Scott: so I think it's about bridging the gap between certainly my experience and people I've worked with and helped. It's bridging the gap between the technical and the non-technical and making sure that it's, it's translated and easy to use because there's a danger that, you know, people in organizations get very excited by technology and almost forget why.
[00:27:52] Zena: yeah.
[00:27:53] Scott: it's about the technology rather than the end user, the customer. So, and that's dangerous. So I think the [00:28:00] digital leader needs to really be questioning what's the problem first, not, here's the technology, let's make it try and fit a problem. And, and I think, again, I keep saying it, but that they are the guardians that I think the digital leaders, whether they're public facing or customer facing online, should be obsessing about solving their customers problem.
[00:28:21] Scott: and using the right technology to do so. And quite often technology might not even be the answer. So being comfortable that it might not be, that it could be a human problem, same, same internally, um, with the internet.
[00:28:32] Zena: Maybe we need to notice board and reception. That would do it. Let's stick it up there. Yeah,
[00:28:38] Scott: So I got another quick story to share if we got time.
[00:28:41] Zena: yeah. Well,
[00:28:43] Scott: That's my podcast, isn't it?
[00:28:44] Zena: yeah. You can do it.
[00:28:46] Scott: I started to get asked to help with things that were sometimes outside of the digital sphere or maybe had a close link.
[00:28:52] Scott: So again, one thing that stuck out for me, it was I was asked to go and run a workshop between HR and [00:29:00] finance and they went into the workshop blaming a product, uh, a big product. I won't name the name of the company that supplies it, blaming that for all their problems. So here's why we can't get reports on, uh, staff and throughput, and here's why we can't get reports on this.
[00:29:18] Scott: And the language is different. And these teams would rarely work together or speak together, but they were brought together and I was running this workshop and I did, I did.
[00:29:25] Zena: Therin lies the problem,
[00:29:26] Scott: Yeah, so I, I ran this problem solving, did some process mapping and then as an independent and didn't really understand it.
[00:29:33] Scott: So I was like asking those kind of questions, saying, right, so what does this? And we drew out this very complex process flow and rapidly I learned that they were all blaming the software, the technology, and none of it was about that , it was about the humans in the room and even worse. They weren't taking responsibility or didn't feel that they had the responsibility or were empowered to solve the problems themselves, but [00:30:00] it was clear that if they'd have worked together, they could have solved these problems.
[00:30:04] Scott: So we rapidly realized it wasn't a technology problem and we even had a consultant in the room from Microsoft. Now, just for the record, they were not anything to do with the software that was being discussed. they were onsite doing some other work, but they were asked to come and observe, see if they might have a solution, and halfway through he actually said," I'm gonna leave because , I can't help you here."
[00:30:28] Scott: And I was like, yeah, I know . This is not, this is not a technology problem. And that was quite interesting. My recommendation was to bring a multi-functional team from representatives from each. Departments together, not have them trying to do two jobs at once, but freed up and backfilled to start doing some problem solving on this.
[00:30:47] Scott: And, um, yeah, did a bit of coaching for the leaders of those teams. And, uh, yeah, they worked through, so I don't think they ever solved it all, but they started to chip away in it.
[00:30:57] Zena: Okay. So if they were starting again with that [00:31:00] whole project, what would you make them do?
[00:31:02] Scott: What the software project?
[00:31:04] Zena: Yeah,
[00:31:04] Scott: All right. Yeah. Well, they were like three, four years into this software. This wasn't like starting from scratch. I'm gonna sound like a stuck record again. I would, I would start with the, the users. I would start with the problems. I would start with the evidence and not just buy the software because it's the one everyone else uses.
[00:31:19] Scott: So it was a, there was a, um, principle that my team had, cuz it used to happen all the time. because we were like, I think it's 42 or 43 forces in the uk. I was getting the muddled the number, but I should have known after 20 years in the police. Every so often someone would go, well, why haven't we got this on our website? Because this police force has it on their website. And we had a principal stuck on the wall that said, lead don't follow. And the subtext was just because somebody else is doing something doesn't tell us us. It's the right thing to do.
[00:31:46] Zena: Yeah.
[00:31:47] Scott: That meant, again, we need evidence. So for all we know, every member of the public that visits that other police forces website might think, God, this is awful.
[00:31:55] Scott: I hate it. I'm gonna ring them and put more demand on their phone lines. So [00:32:00] we need evidence, and this is why I just like, I get that people don't want to try and get evidence because it requires effort or time to do it, but if you don't do it, yeah.
[00:32:10] Zena: It saves a world of pain,
[00:32:11] Scott: Yeah, absolutely.
[00:32:12] Zena: so it sounds to me, from everything that you are saying, it's about them actually saying why starts with a why, what a great book. Someone else is written it, um,
[00:32:22] Scott: And say why to themselves as well as other people.
[00:32:24] Zena: and say why, but actually it also sounds like a, a successful digital leader maybe needs to get out and actually talked to the user almost more. I appreciate you've been talking about the police, so they probably have a certain amount of user contact and a. It's kind of different
[00:32:40] Scott: Different clients.
[00:32:42] Zena: Slightly different client base.
[00:32:43] Zena: Okay. So Scott, one of my pet peeves is PowerPoint decks, and you must have been at the sharp end of this, where people just love PowerPoint and all the wizbang. This can, I can drop my words in. I can make this word flash. Tell me some [00:33:00] PowerPoint nightmares you've seen.
[00:33:01] Zena: Let's get granular.
[00:33:03] Scott: So there was a, I gotta be careful. , there was a,
[00:33:08] Zena: No worries. You and me just tell me
[00:33:09] Scott: so the police get, inspect the , the police get inspected by the Majesty's Inspectorate of constabularies. I think I got that right. HMIC a bit like, um, Offstead, if you know,
[00:33:23] Zena: Yes. Yeah. I was just thinking that. Yeah.
[00:33:24] Scott: and um, I do know they once had to suffer as part of their visit. 170 slides in one presentation.
[00:33:35] Zena: What from the police or
[00:33:36] Scott: From the
[00:33:36] Zena: the instructors, from the police, what just bore them
[00:33:41] Scott: Well, to show them all the achievements and the performance stats and stuff. , I ended up having to help edit some of the slides, but luckily I, I didn't have to sit through the presentation. Bless . I dunno how the report, whether they got down, marked for having to watch such a long presentation.
[00:33:58] Zena: Unbelievable. Unbelievable. And [00:34:00] who's, but, but you know, we're laughing about it. But I've seen this because I go to conferences and I sit through, I usually sit through the kind of CEO's presentation and then I'm on on like, how are we gonna do this? And you think God, like , just cuz you can get all those words on a deck doesn't mean you
[00:34:18] Scott: Yeah. I mean, there's plenty. Presentation faux PAs. One is obviously just reading out the bullets off the screen that
[00:34:26] Zena: when he is having bullets on screen. Yeah.
[00:34:29] Scott: So there's one I think, I can't remember whether I shared this on another episode, but there's, it, it's not so much about the PowerPoint, but there was one speaker, uh, conference I was at, and I won't name the conference and.
[00:34:41] Scott: It was quite an interesting con, uh, quite an in interesting talk. So much so that lots of people kept asking questions, but during the presentation,
[00:34:51] Zena: Uh,
[00:34:52] Scott: and at one point this, this presenter got so frustrated, he actually said, [00:35:00] is about me, not you. But he
[00:35:05] Zena: somebody on a salary, isn't it?
[00:35:07] Scott: wasn't joking.
[00:35:08] Zena: No, that is. That is somebody on a salary for sure. Who can say that stuff? I'd be delighted. Yeah. Wow.
[00:35:15] Scott: I, I thought, oh dear. I didn't mark him very highly on the feedback sheet,
[00:35:20] Zena: You won't be back next. . Yeah. Have you ever seen that? Um, great thing on, uh, YouTube of somebody putting Martin Luther's. I had a dream speech into PowerPoint
[00:35:31] Scott: No.
[00:35:32] Zena: breaking it down with charts and it's
[00:35:34] Scott: Ah, well, I'll get a link that in the show notes.
[00:35:36] Zena: it's very good actually. It's very funny because it just shows how it can suck the life out of you and Yeah.
[00:35:43] Zena: Okay. Alright, so PowerPoints are one. Yeah. They're one of those great big things that any decent leader needs to really learn how to do a great, a great, let's bring everybody up to the sunny uplands with me. And they're not gonna do that by showing [00:36:00] a whole load of bullet points on a deck, are they? And they can save a load of time not trying to do that.
[00:36:05] Scott: Yeah. Yeah.
[00:36:06] Zena: Yeah. Okay. Right. Is there anything else you'd like to tell us about the hallmarks of a great digital leader?
[00:36:14] Scott: I think I've covered it all. Well, maybe I'm tired cuz it's Sunday afternoon.
[00:36:18] Zena: Have to roast. Okay so in summary, can I summarize your three points? I think your summary was ask the why. link that to output. Why are we doing this and what's the best way of doing it? And let's get some measures and then go and talk to users. Is that right? Actually test it out early.
[00:36:37] Scott: I would also say just a bit of caution around, uh, speaking to users in workshops, because you won't get reality,
[00:36:47] Zena: Yeah.
[00:36:47] Scott: would you use this product? Yeah, I'd use that product. Would you buy this product? Yeah, I'd buy that product and thanks for my nice cup of tea. And
[00:36:54] Zena: yeah. And my 20 squid.
[00:36:56] Scott: and then, but yeah, you have to see them in their real [00:37:00] environment and observe them
[00:37:01] Zena: that's all the good psychology experiments. Telling them. Telling them that you are, assess them on something else, and then looking at the user. Could you, is that something you could set up for people? Actually, that sounds like a great piece of work there.
[00:37:13] Scott: So I have an associate with a company that does, so when I'm helping, um, organizations with their intranets, we usually pair up on that if it's big enough and we'll, we'll run some user workshops and, and proper testing and then go through things like something called card sorting exercises where you, you build the navigation s.
[00:37:31] Scott: Yeah, yeah, I can, I can help with that.
[00:37:34] Zena: that sounds fun. Okay, so this is going out, I, it was going out on the 23rd of Jan, is that right? So we've got Blue Monday over with, thank goodness for that. And it's a very long cold month. So what's, what is 2023 hold for you professionally?
[00:37:49] Scott: So, yeah, a bit of a, a relaunch really. So my, my training and coaching, shiny, a new website went live just before. Um, We're just around Christmas time so [00:38:00] people can go on there and, and access information about the courses I offer and the coaching. And I'm very close to some work with some companies around their intranet, one of them, and also some software that we've been developing for policing.
[00:38:15] Scott: Cuz you know, I've was there for 20 years, so we're, we're talking to some companies about that at the moment. So, yeah, a bit of a mixture, but yeah, I'm, I'm looking forward to this year.
[00:38:24] Zena: I wish you the best of luck. I'm sure it'd be amazing and maybe you'll invite me back to review it with you.
[00:38:29] Scott: Thank you, Zena. It's been great
[00:38:30] Zena: Here's some war stories. Anytime.
[00:38:33] Scott: Thank you.
[00:38:34] Scott: A big, thank you for listening to the Rebel Diaries show your time is precious, so it is appreciated. If you enjoyed this episode, be sure to hit that subscribe button in your podcast app of choice so you don't miss the next one. There's a new episode every Monday morning, ideal for your commute to work or early morning walk.
[00:38:51] Scott: Until next time, take care be a rebel and deliver work with impact.