Depending on who I’m talking to, I find it very hard to describe what I do – a lot of the time I talk about ‘digital strategy‘ but I know that if I find it difficult to explain, that probably means that others find it even harder to understand – it’s a logical conclusion.
What is digital strategy? Where does it start and finish? How is this different from business strategy or communications strategy? Invariably, when I start to try and answer these questions, I end up talking about the tasks I cover, or what I deliver, or how a typical day looks – but really this doesn’t get to the heart of the matter, and it usually leaves people looking even more vacant since if they didn’t understand at the start, it doesn’t really help that much to see what the output is.
So as I try to find a better way to explain, here is an interim solution – my job is about change, and really this comes down to two things: I’m an agitator and an activator.
When I say that I agitate, I think I probably cover many different meanings of the word. Not only do I try and shake up the work and the projects that I’m involved in, but also the people – trying to make them see things differently, move out of their comfort zones and generally ‘disturb’ them enough to make them understand that the world around us is changing, and we need to change with it (if you look at another Wikipedia definition than the above, this has a very political connotation, but that still says the same thing “a person who actively supports some ideology or movement with speeches and especially actions“). Sometimes this is a painful process, too much change can be hard to take on board, moving into the unknown can create different reactions including fear and aggression, but hopefully the end justifies the means. As I engage with people and projects, the outputs of this part of my work tend to be more organisational and process focussed as we change the way we work and the people we work with.
On the flip side, I also activate the work that I come into contact with (much like the enzyme approach, binding to the existing and making it evolve), by this I mean that I act as a catalyst to drive the most out of any ideas that we come up, either as teams on specific projects, or as an organisation in terms of how we evolve. This is the core of my work and where I can use my experience and knowledge to make things bigger, better and more exciting – at an agency product level it helps me input in terms of how we should be using technology (much like a creative technologist) and tools (like an experience planner) to deliver the maximum effect for the end consumer; higher up the value chain it means driving the presence of the organisation in social media and newPR, but overall it means getting the best and most out of everything we do.
So when it comes down to it, my role is a change agent, nothing more and nothing less – sometimes I work higher up the value chain and it gets a little fluffy to explain, and sometimes it’s on the front lines, but wherever I input it’s about doing things differently, about changing what we do and how we do it – and above all, about bringing the new digital world into our lives.
Please don’t be agitated with me.