It is becoming essential that each of us develop our personal Digital Quotient or DQ. DQ is a term Mckinsey coined specifically referencing an organisations digital maturity. However, developing our personal set of digital skills or our personal DQ is fast becoming an important skill, and quickly outpacing both IQ and EQ.
As organisations surge forward in their quest to become digital we need to shift our perspective from seeing digital as a thing to “more a way of doing things.”
Therefore, as leaders, to shift into “Doing Digital” means having to develop our teams DQ. This means spending time and effort on increasing each individual’s Digital Literacy. Cornell University defines Digital literacy as “the ability to find, evaluate, utilise, share, and create content using information technologies as well as the internet.”
According to David Edelman DQ “is about developing the kind of intelligence needed to be effective in the business world.” For me this goes further than just being the latest business skill to master, instead developing digital skills is core to our survival in future – when everything is digital!
With the increase in automation it is critical that as organisations we provide our people with as many opportunities as possible to develop their digital skill repertoire.
The digital skills gap is growing and we cannot solely rely on the Millennials or what Prensky and Tapscott refer to as the Digital Natives to close this gap. We need to start empowering our teams regardless of their “generation” or their “Digital Immigrancy” to embrace the digital world.
In fact, I tend to lean towards Dan Pontefract’s reclassification of Prensky and Tapscott’s Digital Natives and Digital Immigrants. Pontefract’s categorisation cuts across the generations and focuses on the individual’s accessibility to the digital world. He classifies us in terms of our ability and willingness to access and participate in this world. Although in his classification he refers to Learners, I think that it can be extended beyond just the learning domain. Below is his four quadrant model.
Dan Pontefract: Digital Learning Quadrants.
1) Disconnected Nomad
The Disconnected Nomad has very low access to technology; if you think about South Africa, this would be the quadrant that the majority of our population falls into. The Nomad is constrained by data and hardware costs. These constraints widen the skill gap as they rarely get the opportunity to develop their skill and ability to effectively participate in a digital world. This then applies regardless of age or generational classification. The Nomad group is also the group that will need the most upskilling if they are to join the digital world.
2) Connected Lurker
The Connected Lurker describes those of us that have access to various types of technology, but choose not to participate frequently. These are what I like to call the “Voyers” (in the best sense of the word) they like to browse and consume content but rarely contribute anything in return.
3) Willing Participant
The Willing Participant has access and the ability to consume and participate, but find themselves constrained. Either they are constrained within their working environments that place huge restrictions on their ability to connect with available technologies or they may just be time poor.
4) Collaborative Participant* (Learner – as per Pontefract’s quadrant)
The collaborative participant refers to those of us that are “Always On.” And that frequently contribute and share as much as what they consume. They remain connected via many different devices and are not bound by access challenges. They see technology as an essential; in fact they support the notion that access to technology is a basic human right.
As leaders our people look to us to guide them and provide opportunities for them to upskill themselves in ways that enable them to shift through the quadrants. Moving towards “willing participants” as their DQ matures. The ultimate vision would of course be Collaborative Participant – but right now I think that’s “Moonshot” thinking for most of us.
But why is this a leadership responsibility?
Because it is critical if we want to achieve our organisations Digital goals.
Organisations don’t shift if people don’t shift!
This is highlighted in the Mckinsey Quarterly article in which they recognise that to raise your organisations Digital Quotient requires four things:
• Firstly, careful and deep thinking around the Digital strategy. Not all of our organisations are going to morph into an Uber or a Spotify. So we have to be aware of what we are and what we can realistically grow into when crafting our Digital strategy.
• Secondly, they point out the need to strategically invest in right technology to support their digital maturity journey.
In their third and fourth points we see that people still lie at the heart of a successful digital transformation.
• Third, while technical capabilities—such as big data analytics, digital content management, and search-engine optimization—are crucial, a strong and adaptive culture can help make up for a lack of them.
• Fourth, companies need to align their organizational structures, talent development, funding mechanisms, and key performance indicators (KPIs) with the digital strategy they’ve chosen
So as a leader my question to you is… what are you doing to increase your teams DQ?
Think about it…
After all it is still people that drive organisations and if their DQ is low I’m not sure how successful your digital transformation will be.