Development pushes against structure. Digital transformation for development pushes against the stability of matrixed government and industrial age infrastructure. Digital transformation is as much about talent and citizen developers as it is about technology. It allows economies to draw on the cascading knowledge spillovers from the internet and to take advantage of platform markets enabled by artificial intelligence and algorithms. But it also lengthens the distance to the technological frontier as flat world countries race forward to build new competitive challenges in capturing production mandates in tasks that can be automated.
It entails moving the hearts and hands of the “antibodies” and the “neutralists” and converting them into “evangelists”. Myriad West Indian institutions remain “untested” in the face of digital challenges, making their digital transformation readiness uncertain. Measures of Digital IQ serve to gauge the capabilities of firms and government departments. These composite measures create the sum total of pain-points and foreseeable value needed to plan a balanced portfolio of pragmatic initiatives with aspirational goals. Arrested development is a feature of economies suffocated by legacy thinking. Thinking that relies solely on push-back against any suggestions of disruption. Only twenty per cent of public-sector transformations meet their objectives. Augmenting organizational health improves the odds of success by as much as seventy-nine per cent.
COVID-19 has not only moved the cheese but no one wants cheese. That iceberg melted. In 1994, Jeff Bezos moved the cheese. He held sixty meetings to persuade friends to each invest US$50,000 to build an online bookshop. Eighty-three persons walked away. The “Transcenders” each got 1 per cent of Bezos’ firm. An astonishing fourteen million per cent return twenty-seven years later makes each of those original shares worth US$7bn. The present market capitalization of $1.6 trillion makes Amazon richer than 92% of countries in the world.
In October/November 2020, PwC surveyed over 600 senior executives in seven Caribbean countries to get a sense of organisations’ digital readiness, enablers and barriers to change, and priorities for the future. Forty-six per cent of those surveyed believe that their organization was behind in upskilling. An analogue workforce scribbling in tomes bolted by brass bolts is far-flung from e-Establishment Books. e-Establishments disrupt the plantocracy practice of ensuring that the analogue establishment records of the TSC and the MoE remain disconnected requiring manual reconciliation across two buildings separated by legislation.
Every promotion creates a vacancy. Other vacancies arise when educators retire, transfer, resign, migrate or move on secondment. Additionally, e-Establishment will track the shifting academic profile of each school as principals offer new subjects like entrepreneurship, while others supress positions in disciplines which they no longer teach. E-Establishments will empower principals to fill vacancies under delegated authority from the TSC. “Digitally determined” organizations don’t ponder over possibilities. If you can think about it – it is possible. Cogito ergo sum.
Nothing is impossible. The “Transcenders” unambiguously describe the future state of the organization. The outcomes are disassembled and working backwards allows them to determine what technologies are needed. They skirt wasteful spending on fields of wild flowers and walled gardens of technologies that promise fake futures. They initiate the transformation by traversing the terrain with bare feet. Use cases precede procurement.
Alex Honnold is a wiry young man with a disarming smile. The El Capitan formation in Yosemite National Park, was for many years Alex’s free solo white whale. The cliff pursued Alex obsessively. His Joan of Arc – something far above him. To surmount the cliff, Alex built up an intimate knowledge of the problem setting – its crevices, slipperiness, temperature and temperament with multiple climbs using clips, belaying and rappelling ropes. Every climb filled notebooks with descriptions of specific “pitches” as problem frames from previous climbs cast themselves into the present frame. Alex memorized each pitch. His notebooks of intermappings became a Catechism that foreshadowed the final free solo ascent.
We construct problem frames in an attempt to make sense of troubling situations. The way in which we set problems determine both the kinds of purposes and values we seek to realize, and the directions in which we seek solutions. Solutions require iterative convergent sequences of model building and architype testing that make use of alternative descriptions. This allows the constellation of notions familiarly associated with one frame to transform perceptions in another frame. This makes us aware of the dissimilarities and the correspondences between the new problematic situation and familiar situations whose descriptions we have projected unto the new.
Here, two different ways of seeing the problem come together to form a new integrated image; it is as though in the familiar gestalt figure, one is able to find a way to see both the vase and profiles at once. But the two frames are not fused. The task is to intermap the two descriptions that primarily resist mapping. The new description is neither a compromise, nor an average or balance of the values implicit in the earlier description. Rather, the new frame represents a shift in the distribution of the redescribed functions. Attention is paid to the functions of renaming, regrouping, and reordering, and the resetting of boundaries, and the reorganization of foreground and background.