This resource contains the full seminar recording, alongside some shorter clips highlighting some of the key and interesting talking points made by the speakers: Dr Lauren Vargas, Independent Researcher and Consultant and Jack Kirby, Associate Director of Collections Services at the Science Museum Group. This seminar was chaired by Adam Koszary, Head of Digital at The Audience Agency. It also features a number of useful resources, reports and toolkits to help you with digital infrastructure and process within your own heritage organisation.
Jack Kirby shared a useful insight about his own digital literacy as he doesn’t see himself as a digital expert. Instead, Jack understands that he needs to spend just enough time to explore the necessary questions around digital, in general for his leadership role as well as for specific projects, so that he has a grasp of the concept and an understanding of the potential answers. This then means that he has enough information to know what further questions to ask and who to ask them to. This is good advice for your own digital leadership. It isn’t about being a digital expert, it’s about knowing the right questions to ask and to whom.
In his presentation, Jack highlights that heritage and collection was at the forefront of what they wanted to achieve with digital. To do that, the Science Museum Group needed to invest as much in digital infrastructure as they do in the front-end audience facing content and experiences. To make that significant investment in digital infrastructure, they focused on weaving it into projects, rather than directly asking for funding for digital infrastructure. They made sure to articulate that, to complete a specific project, they needed to invest in the digital infrastructure around it. Coupled with this, Jack also highlighted the importance of not doing everything at once, as taking a phased approach is less disruptive. The Science Museum Group’s approach around addressing digital infrastructure through projects lends itself to this less disruptive approach.
Dr. Lauren Vargas spoke about how, often, we can be put off by the complexity of digital. But that it’s important not to confuse complexity with complicated. It is possible to have complex systems and infrastructures in place within our heritage organisations without making navigating and using them complicated. This is important when thinking about your own digital leadership, how can you make sure that digital is understandable and manageable for everyone within your organisation, including yourself?
Lauren later re-emphasised Jack’s earlier point in the seminar, around understanding enough about digital to know which questions to ask, through her research into a CALM framework for leadership. Lauren highlighted that leaders should be asking multiple, probing questions and not necessarily providing all of the answers. If leaders provide all of the answers, then that leaves little to no space for group collaborative effort within our organisations. A leader’s role is to ask questions like ‘what if?’, ‘what about?’, ‘when?’ and ‘why?’. They should be encouraging staff to reflect on their assumptions and to test things out in a supportive environment. This approach makes up a key aspect of digital infrastructure and the role behind it for leaders.
If there is one key lesson to take away from this seminar, it is that the role of a digitally literate leader isn’t to have all of the answers. Instead, your role is to be able to ask the right questions to support and encourage your teams to find the right answers themselves. Much of this is about creating a supportive and collaborative environment for your teams, but it is also about knowing enough about a subject to ask those questions with confidence. Below are some useful resources to help you build and support those sorts of environments.
- The Digital Culture Compass is a toolkit which will help you to assess and evaluate your organisation’s digital infrastructure, as well as help you to think about your organisation’s approach and culture around digital
- A ‘CALM’ approach to digital leadership can support you in how you approach your digital leadership, thinking about the questions you should be asking and the environments you should be nurturing: CALM theory overview, CARE/CALM prompts
- Museum of London’s adoption of new digital practices and processes case study
- This detailed resource can help you to think about your own digital leadership. It also features a number of useful case studies from other leaders who have gone through a similar journey.
Digital leadership – Digital infrastructure and process resource (2022) by Culture24 supported by The National Lottery Heritage Fund, licensed under CC BY 4.0
Please attribute as: "Digital leadership – Digital infrastructure and process (2022) by Culture24 supported by The National Lottery Heritage Fund, licensed under CC BY 4.0