What Breaking your hand teaches you about ‘Going Digital’

by | Jan 4, 2021 | Change, ICT4D, Learning |

breaking your hand

Everything instantly became harder – getting dressed, washing, eating. And writing, well, writing was nearly impossible at first. My frustration levels skyrocketed. I knew how to do all these things, why was it so difficult now.

I was eight when I broke my hand, but the experience lives with me. Since then, I’ve broken or injured other body parts and had similar experiences, but it was my hand that I remember. The experience drove me to become ambidextrous in many things. Kicking a ball or swinging a baseball bat is comes naturally now both ways. In fact, I’m more accurate with my ‘non-dominant’ side. Other things require more concentration at first.

The challenge with learning to use a non-dominant hand to write or swing a hammer is attention. Swinging a hammer is an arm movement, not a wrist movement. And yet, when switch to my non-dominant hand, my brain automatically thinks it’s all about the wrist. Same thing happens with throwing a ball. Learning to do this well is tiring because it requires focused brain attention, not muscle memory. I need to break down what I need each muscle group to do and practice it till it is fluid. Otherwise I damage my wrist and look weird.

The same is true about going digital. When all we think about is the technology – converting the vaccine record to a digital format – it’s like we’re swinging the hammer with our wrist. It may work for the short term. When we think about going digital as system, organisational, and human change it is like we’re realising swinging a hammer is an arm and whole body movement. It may be slower at first, but in the end is more powerful and sustainable.

Thinking through why the analogue system works, how it does, and what enables it is crucial for going digital. Digital vaccine records are a great idea, but without an ecosystem around them, paper might still be required. And yes, change is frustrating and will feel clunky. But when you focus your attention on what is happening, you may discover insights you didn’t think of.

Riding a bike is about learning to balance. Juggling is about learning to throw. Hammering is about learning to lock your wrist. Going digital is about learning human systems.

Photo by Cara Shelton


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