Thursday, 25 March 2021

Jisc Digital Leaders 2021

As mentioned in the last section of my Dared to lead blog post, during 12 January to 4 February 2021 I participated in the inaugural online version of the renowned Jisc Digital Leaders programme.  This online version of the programme was well designed and facilitated - thanks to John Sumpter, Zac Gribble and Teresa Higgs for making it so and wider group for their quality contributions.  To echo that, during one of the sessions 'delivering strategy by building capability' we were asked to reflect on "What’s the best training you ever experienced?  What made it so great?" I replied:

"Hmm, I've too many criteria! 😁 Structure, seeing learning preferences, instruction and resources etc.  Got to say this programme 'so far' is shaping up to be one of the best - my reason, a good balance of thought provoking information, simplification, practical application, usable/adaptable resources, social and collaboration interaction - just a shame it's not the in-person."

Below are the personal objectives for the programme that I made as part of an introductory activity. I can confidently say that these and my expectations were met. The * however, there weren't explicit opportunities to assess and develop own confidence, but were given tools and techniques to set me off in the right direction. But as always confidence grows in time and with frequent opportunities to practise.

  • Understand the role of digital leadership and in my own context
  • Understand my organisations digital infrastructure and opportunities to improve it
  • Develop own confidence and identify approaches and techniques to effective digital leadership*
  • Develop broader communication and leadership/management skills, i.e. stakeholder and change management and influence skills
  • Maintaining own digital leadership practice

After completing the digital leadership programme I could have completed additional tasks to earn Demonstrated and Implemented badges. However, as I'm approaching completion of my Chartered Management Institute (CMI) Level 5 Diploma in Management and Leadership qualification, which complements this.  I didn't feel the need to submit further plans and reflection to achieve them.  Anyhow - I'm proud to be part of the Jisc digital leaders alumni. 💪

Different to my previous event blog posts such as PebblePad Super User Academy May 2019 and ALT Annual Conference 2019 plus many others.  Originally I was going to present and disseminate my learning and key findings back into my organisation via an action plan in the form of digital storytelling - a technique emphasised in the programme.  That plays right into initiating the 'new ways of working' piece in my department, Organisational Development (Org Dev).  However, as this rapidly got into motion I settled for disseminating the following document with my colleagues - a small heap of detail to start conversations on the topic and application.

"...Below is a thorough summary and recommendations doc I have produced to share with you all.  There's lots of tools and techniques we can use to support our work, however I feel that there's further mileage in Org Dev adopting and piloting the following three.  But do scan the doc for further info and other opportunities you feel we can investigate.  I'm keen that we utilise some of this, so perhaps we could discuss it in a later Org Dev meeting?

  • Digital mapping - to understand digital context and practices for new ways of working
  • Action mapping and co-design process - to explore how we can improve our learning and development offer that better meets needs and current issues
  • Design thinking - to build new learning and developments interventions from the ground up or assist in deconstructing and re-constructing existing ones"








Throughout the programme I recorded sketchy notes in our designated journals and will revisit them in due course, perhaps sharing them here at a later date.  I'll update the above document as I mull over my learnings and practise these tools and techniques in different situations and develop further ideas and recommendations.

Further to my journaling and document, I made some key critical thoughts/reflections I had, in no particular order and certainly not limited to (others are present in my sketchy notes):


  • Understanding my organisation more digitally, in both depth and breadth
  • Understanding my role and actions as a digital leader, including my personal mission(s)
  • Understanding the current organisational scenarios and where I can best lead and support
  • Identifying and understanding problems/issues to be addressed then turning into challenge statements and exploring potential solutions
  • Amplify my voice and expand my leadership abilities in my department Org Dev and beyond.  However, slightly limited by my role boundaries/less ‘official’ seniority - some aspects are out of my remit.  I may not be in a position of upmost 'power', but can certainly influence, provide thought leadership and lead without instruction
  • Importance of storytelling and analogies to aid change acceptance
  • Understanding both sceptics and enthusiasts - with the view of focus on the enablers not blockers and channelling their energies into the team.  But find a way to engage blockers at a steady pace, until enthusiasts influence and energy shows impact
  • Engaging with an audience and understanding that audience - one of the main challenges digital leaders’ face
  • Disposition - not everyone has a natural inclination towards leadership, but that doesn’t mean it is impossible.  They have other redeeming qualities that fulfil the role of a leader - in my opinion you can’t/shouldn't be everything to everyone, its not sustainable
  • Develop a strong plan of action using the tools and techniques learned here for precision and effective digital leadership

Again, I am happy to talk to anyone in more detail about the tools and techniques I have been introduced to as well as sharing my own reflections on the programme itself.