A digital evolution.

I think I’m seeing a trend, but maybe it’s just a couple of random examples. I’m curious if any of you have seen it too.

People I know who embraced digital early, stuck with it and become known for their leadership in applying digital tools to further business goals are moving away from digital. I recently made this move, and today I was speaking to a colleague at another company and he’s making a similar decision. And as we chatted I thought of a couple of other people I know who pioneered digital areas in their organizations who are being tapped to apply their backgrounds, which were full of smart risk-taking, innovation and seeing things a little differently, to other key areas that need that kind of intrapreneurial aptitude.

Here’s what I think. As more and more people in organizations have evolved to be able to harness digital tools, as marketing departments grow this competency, as social media becomes just another tool and maybe we can finally stop navel-gazing about it, there is less of a need for “gurus” and more of a need for a team of people who embrace these tools. That normalization of previously new media may lead to a kind of boredom and restlessness among the digital specialists and leaders within organizations, which frees them up to focus elsewhere. It’s also time for new people in these organizations to bring their creative ideas and acumen to the table and fresh thinking and energy to the utilization of digital tools. I have seen that in the people who have taken over my former accountabilities. They bring ideas I didn’t have and are focusing on places that I didn’t see. It’s very exciting to watch. It’s evolution.

If you’re at an organization with someone who has moved your digital agenda forward, maybe it’s time to think about getting them to focus on organizational change, or leadership development, or moving your organization to new places. Ask them to help solve over-arching business problems. Redeploy them.

So is it just me, or is this a trend?

9 thoughts on “A digital evolution.

  1. Anthony Hempell

    Using digital as a means of service delivery used to be the exception, but now it’s the norm. I think after many years you realize that the problems you keep trying to solve with digital solutions are not solvable by just new technology, or even a new technology strategy: they require organizational change and new thinking at the highest levels and throughout the organization.

    Some of those people are going to want to leave the constraints of being tied to the technology solution and focus on the business problems and/or strategy instead, because it’s probably a more effective way of making lasting change.

  2. I totally agree with your observations, William, and the various comments.

    I even wonder if there will become a split in three directions, with a large chasm between them:
    1) Digital experts who are also leaders — people who understand the bigger picture and are great at innovation, etc. and will continue to drive great digital work.
    2) Former digitally-focused experts who take their innovative thinking into other roles — people who understand the value of metrics, user experience, community, and so on, beyond the digital space.
    3) Digital experts who are more implementer than strategist — people who are exceptional at one or two areas of the digital landscape, but are so focused on it that their skills aren’t particularly useful elsewhere.

    The combination of these three directions is a very good thing, but the decision of which is right for each person will need be a very individual choice.

    • Hi Bryan. Thanks for the comment. I like your thinking. It’s a very individual choice. Its so important to have a manager who can cultivate the best direction for their staff.

  3. Hi Chad. Great to hear. Sounds like our paths will cross at some point.

    HI JP, thanks for the comment. I agree, but I’m pointing at something deeper. Less about digital tools and more about the mindset of people who were early adopters and could apply the tools and how that mindset can be freed up to focus on other issues.

  4. “Digital” has become ubiquitous and hit critical mass a few years back. Everything is, or should be, integrated now regardless of analog or digital. Like the air we breathe, it’s everywhere and ultimately no matter where you choose to move your career to, you ARE going to be surrounded by digital tools to work with.

  5. I was the Manager of e-Learning until a month ago. I am now focusing on fundraising and development at Neil Squire – which has a long relationship of support from VanCity. I enjoying the new role and new challenges.

  6. Hi Chad, thanks for the comment. Are you taking on new duties? What are you moving on to?

  7. This echoes me right now. I’ve trained people to fill some of my previous roles to tackle some other ones. Still pitch in, but not the only one carrying the ball anymore.

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