Ethics as part of digital design and implementation can provide a real and meaningful outcome.
January 11, 2022
Why should we ask ‘why’? It can be about learning, getting to the cause of a problem that needs to be resolved, or trying to simply understand. The question of ‘why’ can be inspired for many reasons and from various places. For the purpose of this post, it’s fueled by Simon Sinek and his Find Your Why. It’s designed to help those inspired by the message find what drives them and bring it to life in both their careers and organizations.
If we take a look at the digital services evolution and transformation, we see government and private sector organizations revisiting their digital strategies around the world. All too often, we see outcomes without purpose or benefit. So, let's ask the question to anyone in the digital transformation world…what is your why?
Simon Sinek’s words should be heard by all in the public and private sectors, as well by the vendors who support this digital world: “People don't buy what you do; they buy why you do it. And what you do simply proves what you believe”.
Powerful words, and just imagine if every department of government, every private company, every vendor selling their goods and services understood this. We would have a digital services utopia, pure perfection like simple citizen engagement, accessibility on any devicefrom any community urban or rural, and fulfillment of policies and mandates as justa few examples.
Unfortunately, that is not our world, yet. While there is a lot of good happening with initiatives like the Digital Nations Charter, we still have a long way to go.
If we can take one step forward together, let's see if we can help you find your digital ‘why’. How would you define your purpose and the meaningful outcomes you want to achieve? Digital tools as simple as a website, or as complex as data collaboration & integration, citizen interaction, climate change, or student loans are all products required today. Let’s look at a few possible ways to define ‘why’.
Approaching digital solutions should be about understanding and solving the problem using research, data & science. Then, and only then should a scalable technology solution be designed and built to achieve a meaningful outcome. Too many times we’ve all seen a project delivered, resulting in an extensive and costly list of features, each unconnected by supporting evidence. We’ve seen functionality that’s misaligned with stakeholder and citizen needs that ultimately go unused and misunderstood.
Solving problems first means taking the time to understand clients' problems to deliver the right solution, and if that can’t be done there is nothing wrong with walking away from an RFP as a vendor, or for procurement to eliminate a vendor who isn’t trying to understand. Solving problems is about being transparent and adaptable around a solid plan with clearly defined next steps and achieving outcomes that drive digital transformation through iterative improvement.
Assuming we’ve all arrived at a place that addresses the above, with a problem being solved first…it’s then time for the agile approach of building the right thing, while building the thing right. Digital transformation requires iterative improvement, not disruptive innovation. An experienced vendor expands on what works to make a sustainable impact through a process of incremental successes. A process with a “dare to try” approach, but based on evidence, means a vendor can move fast, change things, regroup, then re-deploy based on facts and succeed. A digital formula that includes; evidence + low-risk policy + ethics = a meaningful outcome.
One commonality between public and private sector organizations is, effective use of data and science are required to make data actionable and support meaningful outcomes for private sector organizations, government, and its citizens. In the procurement process, a vendor needs to be more than just a commodity. Questions that procurement professionals should be asking are, “how can you take our budget further” and “how can your team produce results at 2x, 5x, or 10x”? In the procurement dance, an RFP or buying process is loaded with clauses, legal details, and unfortunately all too often, verbiage that has been influenced by interested vendors to better position their organization in the selection process. The end result - a meaningful solution is not delivered. Instead, it is simply a solution that meets the minimum expectations.
Arguably, one of the most important factors just may be based around actually caring about what you do and why you do it. This goes for both vendors and buyers. A team that truly cares about what they do and wants to make a difference socially, economically, environmentally, and for the greater good will shine through. On the vendor side, attracting and retaining top talent is a challenge today. In the right culture with a diverse, multidisciplinary team of experts on topics like climate change, mathematics, statistics, sustainability, social impact, and corporate governance, that caring factor gets embedded into a workplace and ultimately impacts the projects that are delivered.
Ethics as part of design and implementation provides a real and meaningful outcome. Understanding the value that needs to be delivered, how a solution will impact an organization internally and externally, without being focused on the greater good is a problem waiting to happen.
How does this sound - to be a trustworthy partner for building private and public sector digital services, delivering reliable, usable, and effective applications that meet the highest standards of approval internally and externally.