The Practical Futurist Podcast – Episode 5: The Future of Digital Transformation with Tiffany St James
In episode 5 we speak with Digital Strategist Tiffany St James about the Future of … Digital Transformation.
Tiffany is the former Head of Public Participation for the UK Government and an Executive Director of the British Interactive Media Association.
She embeds digital and social media capability into national and international organisations and governments, and speaks worldwide on social media, digital strategy, women in tech and tech innovation.
The Practical Futurist Podcast answers the question “What’s the Future of … ?”
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In Episode 5 we speak with Tiffany St James, a former UK Government Digital Strategist and answer the question “What’s the Future of … Digital Transformation?” We discussed a range of topics relevant to companies of any size including:
- Digital Transformation in the UK Government
- What would you do differently?
- Digital Transformation with people
- How do you transform a large corporate?
- Changing the physical interior of a business
- Being “digitally curious”
- Instilling play into corporate education
- Developing your problem solving muscle
- Using escape rooms to aid problem solving
- “Corporate adventuring” to find out information
- Running a “corporate fire drill”
- Use Corporate Venturing to solve problems
- The Two Tribes in every organisation
- Organising a Hackathon
- Be careful not to over-serve young leaders
- What can the board teach young people?
- Hackathons to create cultural change
- Digital Diversity
- Digital maturity
- The digital talent crisis
- Getting people studying the right subjects
- Get involved with local schools & unis
- Studying a 2nd language – coding
- Learning how to learn
- What is Employee Experience (EX)?
- Wellness in corporates – a fresh look
- Quantified Workers
- More productive employees take breaks together
- Women in innovation
- Diversity of Thought
- Three things for next week
00:30 Introducing Tiffany
01:41 Digital Transformation in the UK Government
03:10 What would you do differently?
03:54 Digital Transformation with people
05:46 How do you transform a large corporate?
06:11 Changing the physical interior of a business
06:57 Being “digitally curious”
08:11 Instilling play into corporate education
08:32 Developing your problem solving muscle
09:13 Using escape rooms to aid problem solving
09:24 “Corporate adventuring” to find out information
00:09:42 Running a “corporate fire drill”
10:23 Use Corporate Venturing to solve problems
11:17 The Two Tribes in every organisation
11:37 Organising a Hackathon
12:12 Be careful not to over-serve young leaders
12:40 What can the board teach young people?
13:36 Hackathons to create cultural change
14:00 Digital Diversity
15:10 Digital maturity
15:48 The digital talent crisis
16:48 Getting people studying the right subjects
17:50 Getting digital agencies involved
18:53 Get involved with local schools & unis
19:13 Studying a 2nd language – coding
19:45 Learning how to learn
21:13 Topping up your digital skills
22:54 What is Employee Experience (EX)?
25:30 Wellness in corporates – a fresh look
26:51 Quantified Workers
27:28 More productive employees take breaks together
29:19 Women in innovation
29:55 Diversity of Thought
30:43 Three things for next week
31:57 Find out more about Tiffany
More about Tiffany
Intro: 00:00 Welcome to the Practical Futurist Podcast, a bi-weekly show all about the near term future with practical advice from a range of global experts to help you stay ahead of the curve. Every episode answers the question. What’s the future of? with voices and opinions that need to be heard. Your host is international keynote speaker and Practical Futurist Andrew Grill
Tiffany: 00:30 As a strategist, I’m really interested in embedding change in organisations and I’m finding more and more it’s less about the technology and all about the people and the process, which is where I focus there for the most impact.
Andrew Grill: 00:43 That’s the voice of today’s guest. She’s a veteran of 14 years of digital transformation in the UK Government and now runs a number of initiatives to help corporates transform. We had a fascinating discussion about the future of digital transformation and how it’s not always about technology. Welcome to episode five of the Practical Futurist podcast. Today I’m joined by Tiffany St James, the former head of public participation for the UK Government and the strategic lead in the Cabinet Office across 22 central Government departments for social media. She has consulted to the UK Government for 14 years. From the time when there was no email through to open data, running web rationalisation programs. She’s also headed up DirectGov communications, digital policy communications, and launched data.gov.uk. Welcome Tiffany.
Tiffany: 01:32 Thanks very much, Andrew. Delighted to be here.
Andrew Grill: 01:35 Wow. You survived 14 years in the UK Government. How would you describe their digital transformation over that period?
Tiffany: 01:41 Well, as you kindly referenced, I joined government where they had no email and left when then had open data. So I guess it was one of the largest digital transformations for, you know, any government in the world at the time. So, we started government, web estate, and then, as the web estate grew, we knew that actually with audience research and testing, it had to be in one tone of voice. People didn’t care about their particular government department and became too unwieldy for citizens to navigate. So then, at the time it was the largest web rationalization program in the world, turned down 95% of Government websites over five years. But then we’d seen, of course the rise of social media and I became the first head public participation was my role.
Andrew Grill: 02:24 It’s a great title, like the “Director of Better” on [BBC TV Show] W1A.
Tiffany: 02:24 Well they thought the title social media might date, but I’ve not heard of any other public participation head. So they made me essentially the head of Social Media pan-Government across 22 central Government departments, but also the co-creation of public open policy making if you like. And at the time there was no other head of social media in the world, so there was no rule book. There was one gal in the back of the Beeb [BBC], but that I’d call up and say, Hey, is it nails for you too? So we saw the largest changes I think in, in yes, of course, a decade or so. But I’m from nothing to everything. And then back towards the end of my tenure, launching data.gov that you can have the great pleasure of working with Sir Tim Berners-Lee on it.
Andrew Grill: 03:04 Wow. So it’s a heck of a lot of stuff you’ve done. What would you do differently?
Tiffany: 03:10 Well, I think the world has changed significantly over this period. And I think doing what we did again, we’d collaborate an awful lot more. We were very careful launching data.gov.uk to ensure that we are involved communities of developers to understand what people could make with public data, for example. But I think in transformation we collaborated with other governments that perhaps we’re looking at it on a smaller scale. I mean, Government is now, the UK Government is the most transparency in the world now. But it took us a while to get there. So collaboration earlier, I’d say.
Andrew Grill: 03:50 So you’re doing a whole lot of different things now, and we’ll talk about them in a minute, but you talk about when you do digital transformation, you do it with people. I think that’s a really important thing because we forget about sometimes all the tech that’s out there and transformation that it is about people. And when you transform an organization or a Government, it’s got to be people-led.
Tiffany: 04:08 That’s absolutely right, Andrew. I mean many organizations, whatever they call it, break down digital transformation into people, process and technology. And what I found running large scale digital transformation programs is that you can have an edict on high, a mandate from the Prime Minister himself or herself and essentially it can be some middle manager perhaps in an office that says, actually, you know, we’ve got an exclusion. This isn’t right for us or what we’re going to approach it differently. And therefore I think now the tools have grown up really swiftly. And that’s all about the plumbing. As a strategist, I’m really interested in embedding change in organizations and I’m finding more and more, it’s less about the technology but all about the people and the process, which is where I focus there for the most impact.
Andrew Grill: 04:55 So you escaped the Government, what is it that you’re doing now? You’ve got your own agency doing a number of things.
Tiffany: 05:00 That’s right. Thank you. So I run a digital strategic consultancy called transmute and we help large businesses, I would say large organisations that are multi touch points. So that might be working with the National Trust or the Post Office in the UK. They’ve got, you know, there’s multiple touch points, other Governments overseas, a little bit of work still now with the UK Government, but large businesses, you know, joining up 22 Government departments for social media for the UK Government is the same as going to a global HQ and joining up 20 countries. So it’s that scale that I’m interested in.
Andrew Grill: 05:34 And when you come down to the people involved there, this would involve a lot of internal communication and actually changing people’s attitudes. So how do you move a Government or a large corporate?
Tiffany: 05:44 Yes. It’s interesting, isn’t it? The amount of time that I get asked Tiffany, can you help us? We just need more curious people. How can we make our people be more curious? And it’s a cultural shift really, which takes a number of different approaches. I mean, that has really strong leadership to, it takes a really clear vision. It’s collaboration as I mentioned again with you know, large business, academia, small businesses and, Government and business altogether that, that um, create that change is changing sometimes the physical interior of a business so that actually you can co-collaborate a lot more easily within the walls that you have. It is a change in attitude. Many times people ask me to look at the digital skillsets of large businesses, but actually what they really mean is Tiffany, how can we change digital behavior and how can we, have, as I mentioned, sort of more curious people or help people adopt different culture change practices. And, and that does take time, but it is looking strategically at those elements that are, I mentioned looking at leadership, looking at physical space, looking at the culture of the business, you know, hiring right from the start, it is going to help with that, certainly too.
Andrew Grill: 06:57 You talk about curiosity and it’s something I talk a lot about. In fact, when I do my keynotes, I start off from the very first second with how digitally curious are you as an audience? I ask the audience six questions I get them to stand up. So they’re all very uncomfortable. I asked them if they’re on Linkedin, if they’ve googled themselves lately, do they consume newspapers digitally? Do they bank with a digital bank? Do they have 2 factor [authentication] on and have they bought some bitcoin? I have a range of people stand up and sit down. There’s always two people who have bought bitcoin and it’s basically a call to action to say, I want you to personally be more digitally curious. How do you instill digital curiosity in a range of organisations where people are have different range of digital maturity or, or even digital interest?
Tiffany: 07:36 Yeah, it’s a really valid point actually. And I’m going to just take the digital edge that really, because it’s about how can we make people more curious and yes, digital is a way of being able to kind of serve that. And what we’ve seen in some organisations is, the skillset. You can’t really measure for curiosity. In some cases, the skillset is around problem solving where we have seen organizations with great successes or great example that Bruce Daisley [from Twitter UK] talks about example from the NHS where they had a 20 minute learning session where instead of learning something more formally, they took upon the practices of play. So they had the opportunity to look at really playful aspects because playing together, particularly, I think they were working in an emergency ward at the time, enables them to be able to have and develop the problem solving muscle that is very much needed when you are in a crisis situation.
Tiffany: 08:38 So where we’ve seen some successes where organisations allow the playfulness or more physical kind of constructed play. Now, you know, there was a rise and fall of, you know, perhaps the corporate away day and you know over time where people have spent the time and intention outside the business. But I think in a constructed way and bringing that back in, we’ve seen through global foresight programs such as the future agenda, the growth of the discipline around kind of like if you look at playfulness in terms of escape rooms. You know, where people might spend their time in the holidays problem solving in that instance. And I think with the growth of this, we’re going to see more, I call it kind of corporate adventuring. You can imagine your inductees perhaps coming in and doing a treasure hunt through the business to be able to find out the information about the business. It just sets the kind of attitude and structure right about people unveiling the information through experience. And I think we’ll see that more and more.
Andrew Grill: 09:42 It’s almost like a fire drill. I remember years ago when I was getting John Lewis [UK leading retailer] onto social media, we had them on Yammer actually the few weeks before and we were throwing curly questions that them across the room. So they had almost an environment of what’s it like to get an angry customer message to me. So you think really it’s about experiencing the NHS example is good. I would like someone to practice what happens in a heart attack situation to get people around the hospital rather than it happening for real but back into boring corporates that don’t have life and death situation like the NHS, how can they do fire drills to practice what happens, and simulate customer experiences?
Tiffany: 10:17 So it might not all be about customer experience. The opportunity that we looked at was corporate venturing, I think it was called at the time within the central Government. So almost like the Dragon’s Den [Shark Tank TV program], I guess it comes from Dell ideas storm back in the day. How can you get your employees to come up and solve problems within the business construct itself that allows them to pitch in a real life situation where there isn’t perhaps real life customers on the line about that, or our reputation on the line. So it’s allowing, as you alluded to in the John Lewis example, role playing if you like, but with serious effect. You know, nobody wants to be able to, you know, come up with a bunch of ideas if those ideas are just not taken forward into the business. And therefore, allowing the shape of a platform where people are able to pitch new ideas and work through those is a way of being able to solve that.
Andrew Grill: 11:13 I want to throw something at you. In my talks, I’ve been doing this for a while. I want to see what your reaction is. I talk about there being two tribes in every organization. The “going digital”, they’re experienced, they can get a board paper up, but their digital experiences are on the up. Then you’ve got the “born digital” born with the iPhone, the mouth, as I say, they live and breathe this stuff. And I say, look, you’ve actually got people in the organisation that can help you be more curious. And often they say, well, what do we do? I said, well, have you heard of a hackathon on three or four hands go up? And it isn’t just for the sake of having it. But then they say, well, how do we do it? Well give your young leaders the task of organising a hackathon. They might then come up with some crazy ideas and you get them integrated and then you get the two tribes talking to each other. And I think part of it may be you’ve seen it yourself is that you’ve got the willingness to learn more, but they’re just too busy when you actually inject the youth and the digital first mindset, have you seen cross pollination that can really help drive a digital agenda?
Tiffany: 12:07 Yes, absolutely. And I think that’s absolutely right. Some of the things that I’ve seen in business is kind of the over-serving of the idea of young people and technology, and I sometimes see whereby people are over promoted or over revered because their hands deep in technology and understand technology. And sometimes they’re put into perhaps reverse mentoring where they’re reverse mentoring the board for digital skills. But what I think is absolutely essential is that two-way process. So what have the board got to teach young people well actually strategic thinking, problem solving, you know, the right kind of presentation. How to change minds, how to change attitudes had to convince people, are, you know, such a skill set as well that anything must be symbiotic, rather than just one way, but loving the idea that you mentioned. I know that there are large organizations, perhaps utility organisations where they have to be absolutely secure, whether it’s utilities they are providing but also really innovative at the same time.
Tiffany: 13:15 And actually understanding what a hackathon is, is just being able to create ideas and have those may be worked up into a very, very simple demonstration as an idea, but obviously, it needs to go through several stages of modding if you want to be able to kind of create products and services, but you can have hackathons that aren’t necessarily digital, which I really like as well. So I know that the national grid example have done this internally as a piece of cultural change to help look at how can they solve the problems that they have with hacking ideas, with groups of people that don’t normally work on those particular issues.
Andrew Grill: 13:56 One thing that comes up a lot and we’re going to talk about is diversity, but I want to come to it from a different angle. I want to talk about digital diversity. And so the idea of a hackathon is you throw a bunch of people together who will all look at things different ways. And often when I’m presenting to a c suite, I say, where are the young people? “Oh they shouldn’t be at this meeting because it’s confidential” I say no, it will actually allow you to think differently because they will challenge your thinking, even without technology. It will become aspirational because if five young leaders are at the board meeting or at the offsite, the other 55 will want to be there and how do I model my behavior? And they might just learn from each other. So I’m saying in fact what I do, I put a slide up about halfway through my presentation with a bunch of buzzwords and I say, look, take your camera out and take a picture. And I deliberately make some of them easy and some of them hard. And I say, you’re not going to know all of these. So go home tonight, play “Wikipedia Bingo”, or ask a young person. And if you haven’t got someone on your team that understands all of that, you haven’t got digital diversity. I’m all for gender diversity, and we’ll probably talk about that as well. But where do you think important to have that diversity of thought?
Tiffany: 14:53 I think you’re absolutely right. What we’ve seen is people who make their way up through the business into senior leadership roles, perhaps are earlier on the digital maturity curve than younger people who are kind of hands deep working within technology. So I think there’s a job to do certainly in digital diversity in most businesses. It exists within the ecosystem of the business overall, but actually getting ages of people to speak to each other, the seniority of people to speak with each other as well as different disciplines is really going to be able to help
Andrew Grill: 15:28 The war on talent. Every organisation I talk to, they’re struggling to find the right people, whether they’ve got the right skills, the right mindset. Where do you think the war for talent is being fought and where is it being won?
Tiffany: 15:41 It’s super interesting, isn’t it? You hear this, you know, in the UK and further afield in Europe, we’ve been in a talent crisis, a digital talent crisis for the last few years or so. And it’s not unique or unusual to the UK, but it comes from the fact that there are more jobs available on the market and more jobs being created, expected to be created in the next 18 months. Then we have the young people to be able to serve them. Where we’ve seen gaps within that is in data analytics and data science. Certainly we’ve seen it in evolving disciplines, obviously the growth of kind of AI and machine learning, we expect, I guess those gaps more so than perhaps some of the really basic gaps in digital marketing. So there are, small businesses perhaps that aren’t able to monetize their content, monetize their fans or be able to make money online. And we always look at perhaps more of the far reaching skills where actually there are some basic skills, and the rules are missing depending on which part of the market you’re looking at.
Andrew Grill: 16:45 I think the problem though is we’re not getting them early enough so that someone who is 14 or 15 selecting their final subjects and that really is where they’re going to go for the next iteration of their career. And if we need all these people, how can we direct them to more of the STEM topics or have the backing or frankly have the universities … what really frustrates me sometime is tenured academics, nothing wrong with them, but they haven’t experienced these new technologies. How do we blend a mix of practitioners with theory and practice and get these young people ready to do these jobs that we’re going to need them for in three or four years time?
Tiffany: 17:18 I think that’s absolutely right. Uh, I’m sure if I had the direct answer to that, I’d be in Hawaii For my non exec-Director role, I’m a central council member for BIMA [the British Interactive Media Association]. I’m group chair of universities because we are concerned about 20 different things in industry that we think will really make a difference to the digital industry. And my role, I take on the kind of employability of relevant graduates because relevant and digital now is so far reaching. So it’s one of the things that we’re currently looking at. So with the universities, what we’re doing is is getting digital agencies that are near the universities to be able to start to come in and do industry placements, industry talks so that actually university students are more engaged with what are the types of roles within industry. We hear sometimes in agencies that graduates come out with not the right skill set and maybe they’ve not studied privacy well enough or cyber or a particular coding language.
Tiffany: 18:14 So we’re trying to, with my BIMA hat on, you make that a less of a sharp divide. Agencies themselves are also looking at younger people than university students because they actually want to mould them in the culture of their own agency. And you’re right, looking at STEM subjects at school. BIMA run a brilliant facility digital day, which goes in to schools and help solve digital problems in the course of one day to get people excited and interested in digital careers. But there’s a big job to do here. We’ve now got, you know, coding on the curriculum in primary school, but it’s not all about coding. And what I would champion any of your listeners here is if you can get involved with your local school, primary or secondary or involved with your local university to help educate our younger people in terms of what are the industry choices that are available for them. It’s only ever going to help.
Andrew Grill: 19:09 One of my other guests, Dom Price from Atlassian, on episode 4 he said that in Malaysia, every year eight child learns a second language – coding. Maybe we need to mandate that – you have a selection of languages and one of them needs to be coding even if you learn it for one or two years, but you then expose people to how to code. And the thinking around developing these skills.
Tiffany: 19:30 So it’s a really interesting point of view and while I can’t wave the flag high enough about learning and learning new skills and learning new digital skills, the way that industry is moving so fast in terms of technology, if we can help people to learn one single thing is learning how to learn.
Andrew Grill: 19:50 Wow let me just park that for a moment – learning how to learn. I suppose we are taught at school but we’re not taught how to learn.
Tiffany: 19:57 Well it’s quite interesting. So I studied another language at school and when I studied another language I came across the past historic or the different tenses that I wasn’t taught with my mother tongue and therefore there was all of a sudden a framework that I can drop other languages into because that I understood the structure of a language. And similarly with technology, it’s moving so fast and will continue to, it will outstrip it, and has done for the last couple of years in digital skills. If we can look at problem solving, collaboration, it’s more not just necessarily the softer skills in terms of communication, but how do we validate an idea, how do we sense check an idea and what are the criteria that we evaluate things against? How do we collaborate, how do we network, how do we perhaps understand how to learn a new evolving science, art, discipline, technology, and there are different ways of being able to learn and we’ve evolved without really perhaps focusing on the structure of learning and I think that will aid everyone very well.
Andrew Grill: 20:59 So some of my listeners are probably not university students looking to pick their next subject. They’re probably executives who are saying, how do I keep up? And I know that I’ve met some executives who said, look, I’ve gone on a cybersecurity six week course because I want to know what it’s all about. What could you suggest people can do that are in the middle or late parts of their career to relearn or top up their learning with some of these new skills?
Tiffany: 21:20 I think that’s absolutely right. I think now it’s continuous learning and lifelong learning. It’s looking at what is personally and professionally satisfying. We’ve seen some of the businesses attracting some of the best talent and not teaching the specific disciplines that they need, but they’re allowing people to learn new skills, not related – sushi making, scuba diving and all kinds of things because they want people to be more curious and they want people to learn and you know, have a nice experience too of course. So essentially as an exec in any organisation, I think it would serve your listeners swell to consider what interests them. Because you know, it would be futile to perhaps learn something that they might find very hard or difficult what really interests them? And there are so many ways of remote learning and, and cost-effective learning, but also to look at what do they envisage is going to help them. So if you look at some organisations you might not need to know, for example, how programmatic advertising works. But if you are a leader within a business and you’re signing off million pound checks for that, you need to know your way around a media budgets sheet or perhaps to understand a little bit more about that discipline so that you can make effective decisions within your business context. That’s going to be different for everyone, but it’s going to be available and online.
Andrew Grill: 22:42 So you’ve talked a lot about employee experience or EX, what’s the 25 words or less or what’s the tweet that explains what is employee experience is before you explain it in a bit more detail?
Tiffany: 22:53 We’ve seen the rise of how important talent is for business to retain talent and nurture talent, to develop talent and arguably to exit talent well, as well as how to ensure that when you’re telling them or in their business they’re having such a nice experience they don’t leave and have that hundred day attrition, you also want to make it as cost effective to get the right talent in the doors to start with. That’s not the tweet.
Andrew Grill: 23:17 Does it start with the onboarding? I see all these pictures on Linkedin of people with their desk on day one and the tee shirt and the laptop and everything else. That’s nice. But if by day a hundred they hate working there, then that’s all moot.
Tiffany: 23:26 I can’t make this point strongly enough. So it doesn’t start with onboarding. It’ll start in talent attraction and it should start with what I call talent DNA. So you get the a hundred day attrition, which is a key measure of success within a business hiring as well as cost to hire, is how many people are leaving the business after a hundred days. And the ones that get it wrong are saying that they work have a shiny place such as x and y and z. And what happens is they’ll attract talent on the basis of what they’re saying their workplace is like and those people who don’t experience that will leave. And some of the work that I do is help businesses look at what is everyone saying because whether you work in a telco, a utility an agency or a bank, actually, you’re after the digital talent and we know that there are more likely perhaps to go to, you know, faster, more evolved, more digitally mature organisations. The Facebook, the Googles, the Netflixes are the more attractive places for people to work, for example. But essentially if you are saying the same as everyone else within the marketplace and aren’t convening people around your business purpose authentically, you’re going to get that balance right when people come in. So crafting your story or purpose, and the environment that you work in, in telling that story authentically is key to attraction.
Andrew Grill: 24:47 One thing I want to touch on, because this is now affecting a lot of companies, I know this is close to your heart is around wellness, and it’s easy to say “we have a wellness program”. In fact, I was at an event a few weeks ago and they had these popups and stands. And so I heard the story several times where they’re talking about wellness and they made a really good point. What would you do if someone came in, you said “How was your weekend?” And they said, actually not great. What would you do? And I think also now first aiders are being trained to spot and treat mental health issues, not just not cuts and abrasions. What can we actually do as humans to provide, not just say we’re doing wellness, but actually care about the people that we spend eight or 10 hours a day with?
Tiffany: 25:23 Well, it’s an interesting point of view because you can’t make someone care who doesn’t. However, what you can do within a workplace is to make better, deeper relationships and connecting so that you actually care about the people that you’re around. And some of the programs that we’ve seen that have been really successful are organisations having things like competitive sports days, for example. So that they’re in teams, they’re competing. They get to know people outside of [inaudible]. their organisation.
Andrew Grill: 25:53 They’ll also see if someone isn’t participating, there’s a problem because they don’t want to win the trophy.
Tiffany: 25:58 Yeah, you’re absolutely right. And I guess it’s not spotting about the issues about wellness, it’s about how can we care more and how we can make those kind of deeper collaborations, so that when we can spot they’ve had a rubbish weekend, then we feel more empowered and enabled to do something about it as an individual because we’ve have a deeper relationship with them. And I guess the other ways that organisations are doing this really well are getting staff to volunteer to give their time to a charity through and seeing the benefit on that charity. That breeds really small cohorts of strong relationships so that you do feel that you’re able to do something more productive when people come in and say, hey, I’m not on top of my game and I need some help.
Andrew Grill: 26:41 So with AI and everything happening, I think it was Vodafone that coined the term “quantified worker”. We want to measure everything. How do we measure human beings?
Tiffany: 26:49 Well, it’s interesting, right? So we’ve seen many examples of, as you said, it’s that Vodafone who coined the term “quantified worker”, so it manifests in a couple of different ways. So it’s essentially the real time tracking of staff, which has “big brother” ethical implications, but in an opt-in way. So they want to track people for performance measurement, you know, wellness to be able to make sure that people are rested enough. actually not the reverse of that, you know, taking too many breaks or whatever else it might be. But there’s some really interesting example in this kind of people analytics area if you like. So the World Bank chipped employees with a knowledge, name tags. And they actually found that the people that were more productive, perhaps in the call centre environment, dealing with people’s calls were the people that could take breaks together with their friends.
Andrew Grill: 27:37 I read this somewhere, maybe Bruce Daisley talked about it.
Tiffany: 27:39 It’s a great example of looking at what people analytics can do for wellbeing and good structured environment.
Andrew Grill: 27:48 So the stats would say we’ve got a lot of people having solo breaks, but the ones that go out and we let them have a break together being more productive, we’re not being big brother, we actually are seeing that’s a positive. Let’s allow everyone to have a break as a group and we’ll get them covered while they’re off having a break.
Tiffany: 28:02 I mean there’s a great example of that. I mean there’s all kinds of ways of kind of tracking people, not necessarily for just working wellness. So we have seen a huge growth of looking at smart products and the environment. So not just the kind of fitness trackers that everyone kind of fixates on most of anything.
Tiffany: 28:21 But if you look a the way that VR is being used and brought into training, it may be of course that workers in unsafe environments where there’s pressure or heat are having smart vests so that they can tell their heart rate, their monitor as well as the outside pressure. You’ve now got engineers that have smart goggles. You know, we know that Google glass didn’t necessarily hit where it wanted to when it first came out, but actually the augmented reality of information coming in at the point that you need it, I think we will start to see more and more of that. So it’s wider I think than just kind of measuring performance, but there’s always in which you can use digital to bring it into the working environment.
Andrew Grill: 29:03 Now people made a point of saying that you are my first female guest on the show, which was wrong. We should’ve had a better mix and I’m going to address that. But when we talk about women in innovation, that’s something you’re a champion of.
Tiffany: 29:14 Yes, absolutely. I had a great pleasure to speak actually just this week with EY and the UN on a great initiative about gender diversity and innovation. And they brought out for the first time, I think they launched it in September [ 2018] and they’re replaying that again this week, which are the principles of women in innovation really. And to not just encourage it from kind of, you know, a STEM perspective, but to look actually why it’s very important to get gender diversity into innovation itself. And I mean, as a woman, I’m so delighted about this
Andrew Grill: 29:49 Well you think differently, and I think you’re a lot smarter than, I mean I can say that, but I think the diversity is that it is diversity of thought because the genders have a different way of looking at things.
Tiffany: 29:58 They have a totally different way of looking at things or not necessarily totally, but at different viewpoints. But I mean for, for my sake, in terms of innovation, I’m fortunate enough to have worked on some projects that at the time had been the first in the world. And I think as a woman, right? I’m nosy, I’m collaborative, I’m curious.
Andrew Grill: 30:17 You ask smart questions.
Tiffany: 30:17 Thank you. I like the fact that I ask smart questions. I’m not afraid to say that I’m wrong. And I know that these are not unique to being a woman, but I think, you know, women have this as a kind of more natural superpower in this kind of collaborative curiosity
Andrew Grill: 30:32 Who wouldn’t want that superpower on their team?
Tiffany: 30:34 Absolutely. Absolutely. I’m so proud to be able to champion that.
Andrew Grill: 30:39 So as this is the Practical Futurist Podcast, I can’t let you go without looking at what are three things that listeners can be doing next week to improve their business? I’m not even going to give you a bound, what three things should they be doing?
Tiffany: 30:51 And I’ve come up with 30 just while we were thinking, right? So I think learn how to learn. It’s the only thing that’s going to serve you well in the future. So look at it the way that your mind works. Look at behavior economics, look at the way in which your mind works and learning how to learn new skills and new ways of looking at that will always serve you well. So that’s on an individual basis. And then on a business basis I would say that try to look and understand 18 months to three years out and look at what skills that you might need within your business context. And then the third point is as businesses look at what skills you already have within your business context.
Tiffany: 31:28 So your individuals that perhaps are not being used, you may have some young people that also have a side hustle as you know, run their yoga studio or go cycling and collaborate. And sometimes we measure only skills that are within a working environment. And actually the questions which businesses we should be asking is what are your superpowers and play people to their strengths.
Andrew Grill: 31:50 I love that Tiffany. How can people find out more about you and your work?
Tiffany: 31:55 That’s really kind of you. So my digital consultancy is wetransmute.com. I’ve got a Facebook group for consultants
Andrew Grill: 32:02 I’m on that. It’s a fantastic group. Every Monday we get a, what are you doing? What’s the week look like?
Tiffany: 32:08 Thank you. That’s so kind of you. So you can search Consultancy Club on Facebook. And then my speaking is at tiffanystjames.com.
Andrew Grill: 32:15 Tiffany, a fantastic discussion. Thank you so much for your time and, we’ll see you online.
Tiffany: 32:21 It’s a delight to be here. Thank you so much.
Outro: 32:26 Thank you for listening to the Practical Futurist Podcast. You can find all of our previous shows at futurist.london and if you like what you’ve heard on the show, please consider subscribing via your podcast app so you never miss an episode. You can find out more about Andrew and how he helps corporates navigate a disruptive digital world with keynote speeches and c-suite workshops at futurist.london. Until next time, this has been the Practical Futurist Podcast.