Assume nothing, question everything

My digital inclusion work has got to a point now where I am a lot more interested in context. Context is a tricky concept and there’s more to it to be unpackaged than can be covered in this short blog.


Examining organisation context rather than ‘digital services’ or ‘individual focused digital interventions’ means different questions get asked, with a key one being, ‘Why do we do it this way?’

The intent of asking this question is to unpick the ‘inherited wisdom’ that informs how we do and think about our work.

Getting to this level of understanding allows for us to take advantage of digital technology, culture and thought.

There’s little focus on digital culture or thinking, and how if an organisation is to truly transition to being ‘digital’ wholesale change is required, not just changing how we do things, it’s changing how we think about what we do too.

I’ve included a small example of how asking root cause questions changed what we thought it was that we needed to do, saved money and developed our digital thinking.

We have been working with the RNIB on their National Lottery funded Online Today project for almost two years. It has helped us to recognise that consumer technology has quietly revolutionised the lives of the digitally confident visually impaired.

We decided it would be sensible to undertake user testing of our online services with this profile.

Part of the user testing design tested a third party plug in that our organisation knowledge told us we needed as it made our website accessible to the visually impaired.

Not wanting to assume anything it was built into the user testing anyway. What we found was deeply challenging, the solution did not work.

It would be unfair to focus on the plug in. It was our decision to buy it after all. It was our thinking that was flawed.

We were caught up in old ideas of ‘one size fits all’, that it’s the role of the organisation to always make accessibility adjustments. Digital culture is all about personalisation.

Visual Impairment expresses is 1000s of different ways. In this case it’s down to the individual to make their own adjustments and it’s the role of the organisation to not put barriers in the way.

We may also be able to take a role in improving local services with the skills and knowledge needed for the individual to personalise their accessibility adjustments, so shaping context outside of the organisation. We saved on renewing an 8.5k contract too.

In our pursuit of ‘digital’ I wonder if we have lost sight of the fact it’s a revolution that we are in and everything is changing.

The internet was originally created for the sharing of large data sets and as time has gone on, our knowledge economy has undergone a radical transformation; there are significant advances in understanding how society, organisations and people work.

Accessing these will produce even better answers to the question posed in this blog.