Digital, Cars, Driving, and Roads

by | Nov 7, 2019 | Change, ICT4D |

In a recent review of a project, two things were highlighted. One, there was very low usage of the system by the frontline staff. Two, when it was used, it showed people were being diagnosed but nothing was being given to them due to no supplies in the clinic. Both of these were challenges, but very different ones.

The first point needed more exploration. The second point highlighted a supply chain issue.

One of the major factors contributing to the low usage was the low digital literacy and skills of the frontline staff. The response has been surprise that not everyone is digitally literate. Just because many people have phones, doesn’t mean they know how to use them. Or that they know how to use a computer.

Going digital in our projects must always be more than just parachuting in a new system. One of the key first steps is should be assessing the capabilities of those who are to be using the system. And we shouldn’t expect the company providing the system to do this. We, as project owners, need to ‘own’ this. And in most situations, we should be building capacity and literacy alongside the introduction of any new system.

The digital literacy and capabilities are bit like roads. You can buy a car without roads. You can even teach someone how to use this particular car model. And yes, I can drive the car a little bit without roads. But when there are roads, the car works better, the journey is much smoother and quicker.

Putting a new system in your project without building the digital literacy and capabilities is possible. But it is not very effective. Finding a system, buying a system, even building a system is the easy part. Building capabilities and changing people’s behaviours is much harder, but also more essential. That’s one of the reasons I find the Courageous Change Framework helpful to use as it highlights different aspects to consider.

Photo by Nick Fewings


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