How can we make new stuff stick?

24 August 2017, Sophia Woodley

Procuring a piece of technology – or even paying for it – is often the easiest part of the journey. We’ve found that technological innovation today often reverses the old 80/20 rule – meaning that the cost of a project is 20% technology and 80% organisational change.

As Jane Finnis, CEO of Culture24, comments: “Digital is a signifier of the bigger changes that organisations need to make. The nature of online technologies are driving these changes – requiring cultural organisations to be more open, more participatory, more inclusive, and less hierarchical.”

Therefore organisational change is essential to making the most of digital technologies, making repeatable and sustainable change – the definition of ‘innovation.'

Too often, digital exists in isolation, a tool to be slotted into the corner of an office or used in a single project, forgotten by the rest of the organisation. Instead it must be viewed as a horizontal, woven across projects and operations as a whole.

Therefore the most effective strategies for adoption seek to integrate digital internally across the organisation. Innovation may take place in a range of different organisational activities, from creation of art to audience engagement to ticketing, but it requires underpinning with good operational support – particularly finance and governance.

Developing new capabilities is at the centre of managing change. Again, the central challenge is to move beyond seeing ‘digital’ as a department or as a skill for a few ‘techies,’ to ensuring that regardless of their role all staff have the appropriate digital skills and the confidence to use them.

 In order to embed digital innovation within your organisation, think about:

  • Embedding digital capabilities across the organisation – not just in the IT department
  • Enhancing your skills and resources through wider sector collaboration
  • Using co-design and co-creation processes to create digital solutions that meet the needs of your audiences and other users
  • Developing digital knowledge and buy-in at board level
  • Being flexible and willing to experiment, recognising that innovation means risk, and that experimentation is a legitimate route to success

This article is part of a series based on our Nesta report, The adoption of digital technology in the arts :

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