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DL Israel aims to bring together leaders to bridge the digital divide

Written by Gilad Lawson and Inbar Almagor, Digital Leaders Israel

The Israeli Digital Leaders Program is designed to train outstanding leaders in promoting digital innovation in the public sector and improve processes and interfaces with citizens through technology.

The program’s belief is that in order to deliver quality innovative public services, the civil service must evolve from digital by choice to digital by default. Digitally transforming the public sector holds the power to not only create more efficient services, but also to bridge the social, geographical and economical gaps of the 21st century. That said, a public leader must choose to promote technology with the intention of closing these gaps, for not only does digital innovation fail to “naturally” close gaps but rather it widening these gaps. Therefore, the goal of the Digital Leaders Program is to create an ecosystem of leaders in the public sector who will know how to digital transform their organization, and especially to what end they will do so.

The Israeli government initiated the Digital Leaders Program in partnership with the JDC Institute for Leadership and Governance. In 2015, the first cohort set off and was made up of 39 participants. A year later, two Digital Leaders Programs are currently running with 80 prominent leaders from the Israeli government, non-profits, and local authorities, while representing diverse backgrounds, positions, and organizations from the Israeli landscape. All aspects of the program involve cross-sector participation so participants can learn from one another.

The program provides its participants with knowledge, tools, and skills and includes 3 primary interlinked sections:

  1. Professional Section: familiarization with the digital revolution (including local trends, leading changes, innovation, entrepreneurship, and the leading of change through digitization)
  2. International section at the Harvard Business School in Boston: understanding processes of global digital transformation processes, studying models for success and failure through case studies and interactions with digital leaders from around the world
  3. Project section: There have been several successful projects that have come out of the Digital Leaders programming. The sessions allow for open discussion and collaboration among the participants who all work in different government departments and municipalities. Two projects that have been initiated from the Digital Leaders participants are the Healthy Aging Project and the Challenge Tenders Project.

Healthy Aging Project: An alumni from the Eshel department of the JDC (deals with all projects relating to the elderly communities of Israel) and an alumni from the CDI (a non profit) came up with a concept that will help better assist senior citizens. They created a stimulation center that enhances the ability for people to better understand the elderly experience. This stimulation center allows scientists, doctors, social workers, etc..to experience what a senior citizen struggles with on a daily basis, and then come up with solutions to help improve their lives.

Challenge Tenders Project: One participant from the Ministry of Health and one participant from the Ministry of Finance joined forces to create the Challenge Tenders project. The project helps facilitate cooperation between the government and the private sector. To summarize, the project’s goal is to open up problems in specific government ministries to the public, and create a chance for small companies to design specific solutions to these problems.

Alumni Cohorts: There have been two cohorts in the Digital Leaders program. The first cohort graduated in May 2016, and the 2017 cohort is currently going through the programming. In November 2016, a Digital Leaders convention took place where both cohorts came together to learn from one another. Rachel Neaman, Digital Leaders Advisory Board Member and Robin Knowles, Founder and CEO of Digital Leaders, joined the convention to share their insight with the group. The alumni network is beneficial to all of the Digital Leaders participants because it allows them to reach out to their colleagues and collaborate on ideas and projects.

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