Community Scoop

Leading within organisations for a digital future

from Vanisa Dhiruphoto of Vanisa Dhiru
Executive Director, 2020 Trust

I had a phone conversation recently where someone said their newly walking toddler was holding an iPod to her ear, acting and using it as if it was a phone. I was speaking to her laughing father, who explained to me that he sees his daughter use any object with buttons as a phone. She thinks the TV remote is phone, the iPod is a phone, the calculator is a phone… and realistically for this toddler, she will one day have a single device that will do all of those functions.



This year I have taken up a new role with the 2020 Trust – an organisation wanting to see New Zealanders participate fully in our digital world. We exist to provide leadership and work with communities to deliver initiatives that contribute to New Zealander’s digital literacy, skills and inclusion.

In the context of ‘practicing what we preach’, as I’ve been asking questions of our team about the digital literacy skills we offer. I want to know if we are equipping our learners to become ‘digital learners and problem solvers’ – for them to have the skills and confidence to work through the digital changes we face in the next decade. My hard question: Are we equipping our people with the learning development and problem solving skill to interact in our ever-changing digital world?

My hard question is a small act of leadership. Leadership is about asking hard questions and this for us is one of many. To get the best results, you have to ask the hard questions.

The next question I have is the perception of our own digital brand and communication tactics for the programmes we run, and the audiences we have. I want to know that our range of great successful programmes and interventions have excellent case studies of skill development and progress, and more importantly build freedom – and we communicate them in ways people expect an organisation that is paving the way for digital literacy and access would do.

Hard questioning has always been an interesting but scary state to be in, share or discuss with others. I am a big believer of leading by example, but as anyone – am a culprit of not always practicing what I preach. Right now, I will give it a go.

I wonder if the leaders in our organisation sit down enough to ask the hard questions of their organisations, and model this questioning and reflective thinking across their teams and colleagues in their chosen fields. It’s those questions that can create great leadership.