Why CEOs need to take a digital snack break

As a CEO, you probably push yourself hard, and expect high standards of yourself and everyone on your team. This kind of perfectionist mindset gets great results- but it’s not always the best way to approach digital, says digital expert Zoe Amar

That may sound odd coming from someone who developed a digital code of practice, which aims to improve performance across the sector. But when it comes to digital, I’ve seen too many charity leaders try to eat the elephant. No one is expecting you to get to grips with all things digital in a week. You don’t need to be a robotics expert or a master of agile methodology. Frankly, I think you have enough on your plate. Yet I’ve worked with countless CEOs who agonise that they don’t have advanced technical skills, and who’ve confessed that they’re being kept awake at night wondering how to tackle digital, if their strategy is robust enough and wondering if their charity can develop award-winning digital products and services.

The fact is that digital is a huge area, touching most areas of our lives and work.  One of the best things a CEO ever said to me was that I’d taught him that digital change could be manageable, and he didn’t have to have all the answers. And that’s how I’d like to see more CEOs approaching digital. Yes, with ambition and determination to succeed, and the curiosity to do things differently. But as a CEO you’ve got to find smart, bite-sized ways to tackle this subject which you can fit into your hectic schedule.

When I worked alongside ACEVO, NCVO, Office for Civil Society, The Charity Commission, The Co-op Foundation, Lloyds Banking Group and a host of charities all across the UK to develop The Charity Digital Code of Practice I was very aware that it’s a big, chunky piece of work, reflecting the scale of ambition for digital in the sector. It aims to help charities of all causes and sizes improve how they use digital, identifying what they are doing well, what they could improve and how to plan for the future.

At the same time we were really conscious how time poor CEOs are, and that’s why I’ve been working with Emmie Kell, CEO of Cornwall Museums Partnership (a charity who received funding from DCMS and Office for Civil Society as part of the Digital Leadership Fund) to create some free and quick online resources to help charity leaders use The Charity Digital Code of Practice. Cornwall Museums Partnerships’ stakeholders are mainly arts and heritage organisations but we think these resources could be used by any charity leader- which is why Cornwall Museums Partnership is keen to share them with you. Did I mention that they are free?

There’s a quick five-minute introduction to the Code followed by a longer, 10-minute masterclass. Both tools are easy to use, and are an opportunity to learn key points about the Code and hopefully will whet your appetite to engage with it more deeply.

So next time you want to know more about digital, you’re worried about whether your charity is doing enough in this area or just want to sense check your approach, take a digital snack break and have a look at these resources. I hope they will inspire and remind everyone that we all know more about digital than we realise, and help you take a step back and reflect on what digital success really looks like for your charity.

Take a look at Cornwall Museum Partnership’s Charity Digital Code of Practice modules

Photo by Gery Wibowo on Unsplash

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