My plan to be a Digital Leader in 2017

Written by Robin Knowles, Founder and CEO of Digital Leaders

It was Matt Hancock who said at the June 2016 National Digital Conference that “doing digital transformation is much harder than talking about it” and this got me thinking that I should also take my own medicine and digitally transform something. Digital Leaders, the day job, is pretty digital thanks to our fantastic team and advisory board, but there are aspects of my life that are not and I have decided that I should start at home.

So in 2017 my New Year’s resolution is to digitally transform my home life.

Is digitally transforming my home life going to be anything like transforming a corporation I wonder? Judge for yourself.

Are my two boys, 12 and 16, playing the role of up and coming staff members who are digital natives and who think we leaders know little or nothing about digital? Is my wife, the CEO, needing persuading of the benefits of our digital transformation and will she be willing to live with any short-term discomforts. She is certainly the FD, being an accountant so the financial case will be monitored carefully no doubt.

Our peer group of London friends at home are fascinated by this New Year’s Resolution. They are more used to diets and the like and I suspect all will be pulling up ringside seats as the year progresses to see what we get up to as a family. I am sure the highs and lows we experience will be good dinner party conversation.

Success would of course be if they copy us in any aspect of this digital journey. One could say that we are the equivalent of GDS, incubating change at a safe distance from our friends and those closest to us.

The plan: each month I digitally transform an element of my existing domestic arrangements. If all goes well, by the end of the year, I want ten aspects of my daily domestic life to be “digital by default” to borrow a phrase from our Digital Leaders Chair, Francis Maude.

I have been giving it some initial thought and have come up with a working list of things I shall change. It includes: Car, health, money, shopping, learning, travel, eating, sports and entertainment. But, this is just my list and I hope you will start the process by commenting on this blog with suggestions of other areas I could transform and perhaps some I should not based on your own experiences. I plan to avoid some areas, such as online dating – I am happily married.

So starting in January we will be digitally transforming the use of our family car. This feels like a big-ticket item up front and will set the tone for the year. We live in London, so going Digital means living without a car, but can we do it and will digital deliver us solutions without a mutiny or an increase in costs or inconvenience. The opposite of this could mean a very long year ahead.

Good luck you might say or get on with it, but this is Digital Leaders after all so it would be foolish not to call upon our amazing community to see how digital they are away from the day job of being a Digital Leader. I plan to fail fast, be agile and take criticism and encouragement from you all in equal measure.

I hope that each month I can share with you the topic for the month ahead as well as the last month’s experiences on each of the ten transformations and crowd source your recommendations for the very best digital solutions from health to travel and from finances to shopping.

I shall report back to you by writing a short blog like this one about what happened, the highs and lows and hope you will leave comments, help out with ideas and share your own experiences. If you want to join in and digitally transform your own domestic arrangements then please get in touch. We could write alongside each other.

Hopefully my research into the digital transformation of various aspects of our home life each month will prove interesting, occasionally entertaining and hopefully not result in divorce.

6 responses to “My plan to be a Digital Leader in 2017”

  1. Dr Bex Lewis says:

    I look forward to hearing how you get on. Digital travel for me (when not using my car, which I don’t a lot of the time) really seems to consist of Google maps, uber and Stagecoach app – I think!

  2. Robin Knowles says:

    Thanks Bex, See you in Manchester I hope for the next DLNW Salon when I can tell you how my January is going.

  3. S Chesney says:

    a challenging resolution Robin! I too look forward to hearing how you get on – especially where a service/organisation has only gone partially digital. For example my children’s school has an online payment facility but only for some things – others still have to be paid by cheque or cash. The same goes for letters to parents – some are sent home with children, others are emailed to me.
    It will also be good to hear if you decide to keep some established practices – apparently sales of paper calendars are still strong

  4. Hady Khalaf says:

    I join Robin in his 2017 digi resolutions to extend 3 commitments for this year :

    The first one is personal. To make it simple , it is actually to do less of what I’m doing now : which is using less my smartphone while putting my baby boys into sleep . Setting limits to technology and drawing a line between human contact and digital contact will only contribute to the positive evolution of digital and this is what we all want .

    My second commitment is to knowledge . I am planning to launch this year a research on Digital Leaders skills , looking at how the theory of leadership is evolving in a digital era . The research will be based on semi structured interviews that I will collect from leaders and recent leadership literature . I look forward in advance to the contribution of DL community to this research .

    My 3rd commitment is to Digital Leaders . That one , I will leave it as a surprise .

    Wishing you all and your families the best for 2017.


    Dr. Hady Khalaf
    Strategy Advisor
    Digital Leaders

  5. Tom Bryant says:

    Great start to 2017, Robin! Really admire what you are doing and this embodies one of the key attributes of a digital leader – experimentation. I similarly started pushing my comfort zones and experimenting with digital in the home a few months ago. I felt if I was constantly advising leaders to ‘become more digital’, horizon scan, embrace change and experiment, I needed to walk the talk. This became eye-opening and revolutionary for me in the digital transformation of my home. First, the platform, so installing wifi boosters in new rooms. Then, the environment with sound and music – Sonos speakers connected to wifi and controlled from my smartphone. Upgrading the 5-year-old TV so I could experiment with a smart, connected TV and enjoy 4K, HD, streaming services and range of apps. Recently obtained a couple of different VR headsets to see if I can really incorporate this into my viewing habits or is it just a passing fad in my house. Then of course added dear Alexa! Am discovering new applications of Amazon’s Echo everyday. She gives me my chosen weather and news briefings each morning, quickly tells me the current time in Singapore since I’m working on a project there from my
    home in Suffolk and she’s about to even take me through a 7-minute workout. I think next is to consider all the IoT around lighting and kitchen appliances. I’ve definitely embraced digital in new ways and it’s done EXACTLY what I say it will do when I speak to other digital leaders – inspires innovation and the art of the possible! Best of luck with your heart of the home transformation.

  6. Some things to try:

    Set up shared to-do lists for shopping, gift wish lists, general admin, travel goals. You could use Wunderlist, Apple Reminders, Evernote or Trello, depending on what mobile devices you all have and what you find the most useful.

    Set up a Group Google Hangout or Family Slack Team for private sharing, organising dinner, keeping track of activities; invite your extended family.

    Cancel your TV subscription and switch to streaming only.

    Set up App Store and Apple Music Family sharing so that your whole family can stream music with one subscription and share app purchases.

    Enable Family sharing on your Amazon account so that you can buy a Kindle book once and have it available to your whole family.

    Set up a family blog ( or should be fine, I personally like Ghost because it’s super simple and focused) and make it password protected. Use it to document your family events, birthdays, memories etc instead of publishing all of that content on social media. This can then become something to share with future generations of your family.

    Sign up with and set family learning goals with regards to points earned per month.

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