Socitm: Traditional management structures ‘unsustainable’ in digital age

Written by Rebecca Hill on 5 July 2016 in News

Digital leaders need to address top-down, rigid management hierarchies that could stifle innovation in the public sector, Socitm has said.

Councils need to embrace new ways of working - Photo credit: Pexels

In a briefing note the body, which represents IT professionals in the public sector, says that the status quo is “unsustainable” and that digital leaders need to embrace a new way of thinking quickly.

The note, The Digital Mindset, is part of a briefing series available to Socitm Insight Khub members. It acknowledges that changing attitudes will take time – often longer than it does for technologies to be developed – and sets out 15 steps to help digital leaders make the transition.

Related content

Digital innovation needs local leadership, says Socitm
Good digital leaders are likely to be young and new to you, says PwC

Many of these relate to changes that digital leaders may have to make to their management style.

Traditional top-down management hierarchies are unlikely to work well in the digital age, the note says, and can stifle innovation.

Instead, digital leaders need to establish a culture of change and improvement and consider managing a team by outcomes rather than inputs.

“Old constraints about when and where work should be done can be incongruous with new digital thinking and ways of working,” the note reads. “They are born of rigid hierarchies and top-down command and control.”

Instead, everyone should be treated as “a valued, responsible and well-motivated adult”.

In addition, digital leaders will need to develop the skills to sell digital ideas to relevant service managers – for instance by including them in the design process from the start – and become more comfortable with ambiguity and uncertainty.

“The digital world is complex,” the note says. “Relationships between cause and effect often only become clear after the event or they may just remain somewhat fuzzy throughout.”

It advises leaders to embrace the agile way of working, and take small and quick steps towards a clearly defined end-goal, which is likely to include taking calculated risks.

Socitm acknowledges that this “doesn’t fit comfortably with the conservative public sector”, but says that this needs to change if local authorities are to provide services that can cope with increasing demand.

At the same time, the body recommends looking for win-win situations. For example, it says that open standard and open data should benefit both the buyer and the supplier, which will reduce adversarial relationships and in turn improve the service being delivered.

The note also recommends that digital leaders build the right infrastructure and team – something that has become more difficult after years of austerity.

As such, digital leaders should look beyond traditional recruitment channels and may need to be “reconsidering past cutbacks in current staff development expenditures”.

Socitm emphasises the idea that, although some people are digital natives, others will need to work on improving their digital mindset or risk being left behind.

The role of digital leaders is not just to think digitally themselves, but also enthuse their team to do the same, the note says.

It adds: “Exercising a digital mindset, and being digital as a consequence, needs to be holistic and, by definition, cannot be left to any one group of organisational stakeholders."

Share this page



Please login to post a comment or register for a free account.

Related Articles

Watch: NHS and industry experts discuss opportunities and challenges of AI
4 October 2019

Webinar discussion – which is available to view for free – covers ethics, technical barriers, and key use cases of artificial intelligence

AI and public sector – combining to create high performance governments
4 October 2019

Joel Cherkis from UiPath examines why governnments should not be thinking about whether to deploy either robotics or AI – but how the two can work in unison to deliver greater benefits

Related Sponsored Articles

Protecting what matters most: Security for growth
15 October 2019

Security can help you grow whilst protecting the very core of your organisation, writes BT 

Secure SD-WAN: Security by design
8 October 2019

BT looks at how to secure your SD-WAN services, starting with security by design 

Cloud security – it’s not black and white
1 October 2019

Nigel Hawthorn looks at how to review cloud use, report on risks and apply policies to reduce likely data loss incidents in this latest insight from BT

The CISOs and CIOs guide to securing networks in a digital age
24 September 2019

New network technology creates new risk, but the same technology is driving a step-change in how we think about security, writes BT