The Messianic Minister of Digital Transformation, Senator the Honourable Hassel Bacchus, at a workshop, co-hosted by the IDB, and the Ministries of Digital Transformation and Public Administration, centred his ideas on: Demystification, Deconstruction and a Common Ground. He invoked the notion of “looking back at our work”. How humans now live, work and learn has caused shares of Wall Street’s most valuable companies to soar. Alphabet Inc., Google’s parent company, announced a 20-to-1 stock split. Alphabet’s median analyst price target is now $3,450, 16% above its present price. The graffiti are on the crypt. Digital public services are an imperative.
Against the backcloth of high demand for unemployment and other social benefits, governments have guaranteed swift and well-organized processes and compressed delivery timelines — particularly to break backlogs. To get public services online quickly and for continued and sustainable change, Governments have started the digital re-imagination of service journeys using agile labs and the rapid deployment of scalable ICT architecture. ‘Agile labs’ help public authorities to understand stakeholder complexity. The good intentions of Governments can sink in a sea of bureaucratic decisions drowning valuable products and services in a tide of paperwork.
Pre-Corona personnel protocols like Macaulay’s Minute of 1835, were rarely designed with the citizens or contexts in mind. They were never built around a culture of service that makes the citizen prime. Digital transformation requires an understanding of citizens’ needs and contexts, and to address them efficiently, effectively, and in a way that builds trust. To achieve stakeholder alignment, “labs” responsible for specific journeys allow civil servants from all relevant public authorities including local government to collaborate directly with users to reimagine service excellence and schedule a phased release — from minimal viable product to fully automated service transaction.
“Labs” resist the temptation to adopt the “big-bang” or “waterfall model” where solutions are tested at the end, with no time remaining to test an exhaustive catalogue of scenarios. “Labs” break down complex work programs into simpler goals where testing is iterative throughout development and allowing for failure. Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, in “Flow”, reminds us that “Human beings are the only creatures who are allowed to fail. If an ant fails, it’s dead.” By condensing design and stakeholder alignment into a series of agile sprints, labs deliver impressive results. “Labs” involve solving intractable problems with empathy, creativity, and context with a view to changing the existing into the preferred.
This multi-disciplinary approach to solving the problems of the end-user and the government’s capabilities for transformation ensure that what is created is useful to, and usable by, the client /citizen anywhere at any time since the spine of the national and globalized digital economy remains hyperconnectivity. The term Glocalization is used to describe a product or service that is developed and distributed globally but is also adjusted to accommodate the user or consumer in a domestic market.
“Glocalization” is a portmanteau of the terms globalization and localism. It represents the challenge to one-dimensional conceptions of the globalization process as linear expansions of territorial scales. It points to the idea that while initiatives may originate locally, it is now the turn of the intractable and the unpredictable that put them stubbornly beyond the reach of the steering influences of their proposers. It points out the increasing significance of metropolitan network effects occurring in concert with the local and the regional.
This simultaneous occurrence of both universalizing and particularizing tendencies is a process that strips locality of its dilemma as it concurrently adds to the prominence and fullness of global user journeys. This is a central concern of digital re-imagining. Tourists, foreign students, gig workers, CARICOM nationals, and citizens residing abroad may wish to have access to local services for property taxes, birth certificates, deeds, cadastral sheets, travel documents and countless other services.
Darwin’s “On the Origin of Species” and “The Selfish Gene” by Dawkins have both persuaded fellow scientists to support novel theories. What stands out in the gene-centred view of evolution that Dawkins has crystallized is that the digital information in a gene, is effectively immortal. It is the primary unit of selection. No other unit displays such determination — not chromosomes, not individuals, and not species. These are ephemeral vehicles for genes, just as sculls are vehicles for the talents of rowers.
Dawkins also introduced the concept of the “meme” to describe a unit of cultural information analogous to the gene. Memes transmit blocks of beliefs and practices from one generation to the next, even allowing cultural métissage. Pandemics, however, have the power for humans to be more than vessels transporting genes and memes of previous generations across a portal.
In our own lifetime, we have deleted the “i” in genius. The paradigm shift we are experiencing is one that transports us away from notions of the Genius as a social-isolate like Galileo or Picasso towards transformative change propelled by the Genus. By movements of crowds and collectives. By movements of minds, like the Velvet Revolution, Occupy Wall Street, The Yellow Umbrella Movement, Black Lives Matter, and the MeToo Movement. Digital Transformation is a parallel collective. A movement around collective intelligence, swarms, and distributed problem-solving. In Post Corona, silos are silent.