January 28, 2016 : Ross McCulloch

Rare opportunity to digitally transform your charity

Four reasons why action learning is key to charity digital leadership

I’m leading SCVO’s new One Digital Senior Leadership Action Learning Programme. We’re seeking applications from senior leaders who want to transform their organisation’s approach to digital. As we near the closing date for applications, here’s some thoughts on why this unique approach is key to digital transformation.

Action learning isn’t about meetings or training

If you’re a charity trustee or CEO chances are that you already attend far too many meetings. Based on my experience, many of those meetings have no definite outcome.

Action learning isn’t about meetings or training, it involves a facilitated, self-managed group which promotes the learning that is necessary for taking effective action to solve real organisational problems.

The cycle of reflecting, learning, planning and action within action learning means charity leaders can work together to bring about the digital transformation required to future-proof the third sector.

It’s enables us to stop thinking about digital in silos

It’s a chance for senior leaders to effectively tackle the digital issues they face head on, efficiently and effectively 

The fact that participants bring real issues to the group means that we have a broad section of digital challenges to work on. This approach helps us to stop viewing digital as the sole responsibility of the person who looks after IT, the fundraising team or the comms department.

Charities need think about digital as spanning five key areas: managing information, communicating, transacting, problem-solving and creating. By bringing together leaders from a range of organisations we’re much more likely to help Scottish charities truly embrace digital as a tool for change.

Action learning is about honesty and trust

For an Action Learning Set to work effectively, members have to be honest, respect others’ viewpoints and take responsibility for their own actions. This is arguably the most valuable element of action learning.

Honesty refers also to oneself – if we aren’t self aware and honest about our actions, assumptions and errors, then our capacity for learning is stifled, and our view of problems will always be limited. This safe, confidential space allows senior leaders to effectively tackle the digital issues they face head on, efficiently and effectively.

Action learning is well-respected

Across the globe action learning been has proven an effective tool for bringing about positive organisational change. The process has worked across almost every sector – business, education, government and non-profits.

One recently success was with UN teams. The challenges they face in their daily working lives, aside from professional or technical issues, are assimilating vast amounts of information quickly, supporting a diverse range of people with different backgrounds and experience, and often competing agendas – all whilst working within UN protocols. They joined an action learning set because they needed a bespoke development opportunity to help them be even more effective in their work.

Action learning also offers an opportunity to network, to share knowledge and experience across agencies, and to provide some input on specific topics if required.

Similarly, the safe space we will create within One Digital will allow senior charity staff and trustees to both work on real digital problems and network with other leaders.

If you would like to apply for a free place, please complete our short application form and email it to us by midnight on Monday 1 February.

We expect to make a decision on your application by Friday 5 February.

Important: Opinions expressed by bloggers are their own and don't represent those of the Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations.

by Ross McCulloch