Digital transformation requires more than just using the latest technology, the newest buzzwords and applying the latest out-of-the-box framework to deliver digital services. Digital transformation requires a change to the working culture of organisations. But culture change is not something you can just make happen overnight - it’s about people and relationships, it’s complex. Culture creation is based upon having shared values that individuals and teams really believe in - it is evident in their everyday behaviour. Focusing on a set of values that we know can help the delivery of digital services is the starting point for digital transformation.

The Manifesto for Agile Software Development was published in 2001 and is based upon a set of 4 values that are supported by 12 principles. It evolved from discussions between its authors about what they had learned from their experiences of building software over many years.

Our simplified interpretation is that to deliver good digital services you need to allow teams to work in a way that them to deliver good digital services. We need to build teams that are empowered and trusted to get the job done, and we need to transform organisations by providing an environment where everybody is guided by the same values where teams can work together effectively.

On face value the solution is easy to describe - teams just need to know what direction to head and why it’s worth heading there, and to know that they have permission to find out the best way to get there. The compass that all teams need to guide them needs to always be pointing towards user value.

However, the traditional picture is very different. It’s rooted in command and control, where individuals and teams have been programmed to work in a way that now only responds to command and control.

Teams can now only operate by wearing blinkers and being told to head straight ahead, irrelevant of what they might encounter or what they might learn on their journey.

So the task at hand is not trivial - don’t expect digital transformation overnight. Many in the civil service have built their successful careers by working in a command and control way.

But digital transformation is happening and gathering momentum. Effective agile training and coaching is helping people across government understand what it means to be agile. We’re starting to see the blinkers come off.