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Digital Champions – building capability across the department

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laptopandphoneI blogged previously about our digital champions summit, an event we ran to bring all our digital champions together. It was a fantastic day, with great input from all the speakers who came along, and from the champions themselves.

If you’d like to find out more about what happened – here’s a link to a Storify of the day, including video interviews with all our speakers.

Developing a digital organisation

To my mind there needs to be a three pronged approach to developing an organisation to help it become truly digitally enabled. Those prongs are:

  • Strategy – an approach to digital technology and culture that demonstrates a thorough understanding of the opportunities and the risks
  • Leadership – encouragement and permission from the top of the organisation that digital tools are important and that appropriate access and learning opportunities are provided
  • Capability – confidence, comfort and skills throughout the organisation so that staff can make the most of the opportunities and avoid those pesky risks

The department has a digital strategy in place, and a digital leadership coaching programme is currently ongoing. I’ll leave it to others to blog about those. My job is developing our network of digital champions, who are a key part of our means of developing capability throughout DH.

So who are these champions, and what do they actually do – and why are they doing it?

The champions are enthusiasts for working digitally. This doesn’t mean they have to be experts in any particular technology, rather that they embody the digital mindset of curiosity, creativity and cooperation. In other words, they don’t need to know all the answers, but they do need to have an idea of how to find them.

Our aim is to have at least one champion in every team in the department. They have three key roles to play:

  • They will be the people their colleagues will turn to for initial digital ideas and support
  • They will be the digital team’s eyes and ears, listening out for potential digital activity in the various policy areas
  • They will develop digital capability locally, to help all our colleagues feel comfortable using emerging technology to achieve their goals

Quite a big ask, but an exciting challenge, I think. We on the digital team are going to be supporting our champions every step of the way, of course, providing them with the learning materials they need in the format they need them, keeping everyone connected via the dedicated champions Yammer group, and laying on special events like the summit.

We’re already starting to see the fires of digital enthusiasm being lit in teams across the department. Through the champions network we have a scalable way of providing the right level of support that projects need, whether it’s light touch guidance on running a Twitter campaign all the way through to bespoke development of an engagement platform.

Hopefully soon we’ll be in that place where digital platforms and services are just another tool that everyone uses, when appropriate, to do their jobs.

If anybody would like to know more about what we are doing with our digital champions programme here at DH, feel free to email me – – or grab me on Twitter – @davebriggs.

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  1. Comment by Paul Webster posted on

    Would be interested in hearing more Dave.
    Are you just working with DH internally on developing work of DCs?

    The work I'm doing at Lasa (see is DH funded too with Social Care providers and Care Homes. One thing we've really noticed is the need for digital skills development amongst Care Home Activities Co-ordinators.


    • Replies to Paul Webster>

      Comment by Dave Briggs posted on

      Hey Paul - thanks for the comment. Always happy to chat 🙂

      Right now it's internal to DH. We are however looking into providing the arms length bodies we work with as much digital support as we can. I'll ask to see if your area of work fits into this, and which part of the system it falls under!

      One thing that is worth saying is that we will be publicly publishing as much of the material we develop as we can, so even if there is no formal link, hopefully all the bits you might need to run a scheme yourself will be there for you to use.