Entrepreneur: Scotland needs to dump risk aversion to be a digital success

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By Craig McGill | Digital Strategist

August 23, 2013 | 5 min read

Working Digital is a four-day event taking place in Ayrshire in early September 2013 (right after Buzz Award entries close) with a large number of digital experts giving their time to the event.

Mike Stevenson

One of these is award-winning entrepreneur Mike Stevenson from thinktastic who took time out to explain why Scotland can do digital well.

Is Scotland in a good place to benefit from digital?

Scotland at its best is outward looking with a history of spreading positive and life-enhancing ideas. Digital technology is the perfect enabler for us and we are already a flagship nation when it comes to digital health. Grasp the opportunities and we can be world-beaters

In many companies, it's claimed that management are holding back the staff from using digital more. How do you advise people change management's minds? Is it fear of change, fear of failure, ignorance or something else that holds people back from utilising their full potential?

The word management says it all. Great leaders trust and empower their people to go make it happen but sadly, they are in too short supply in Scotland.

We have still have too many organisations stuck in a culture of management where risk aversion takes priority over new ideas. I want us to develop young leaders with the confidence and know how to exploit the immense opportunities that digital technology and all aspects of the future offer – that is my mission.

Also, let’s be honest most managers are of a different generation, don’t understand the technology and fear it. Hit them with the economic and reputational benefits to business and they see it from a perspective they understand. Let’s be positive about shifting hearts and minds and focus on what digitilisation can achieve rather than how it works.

What do you hope attendees will take away from your talk?

A renewed sense of enthusiasm and excitement around the future, some big ideas to run with and the confidence to go out and lead Scotland’s digital revolution. I will also present a clear vision of what a digital Scotland might look and feel like. As with all my presentations I also want people to take away some inspiring stories and have laughter in the pit of their stomach.

How far away are we from you getting your dream job of Head of Ambition for Scotland?

I speak across Scotland to business and public sector leaders and get a real sense that my message on ambition= strikes a chord with people of all ages – it’s almost as if permission needs to be granted for people to lift their head above the parapet. I have therefore appointed myself de facto Head of Ambition because I am determined that our tradition of not getting above ourselves is finally buried.

Are Scots getting more or less ambitious?

More ambitious – especially our young people and that’s a great thing. But it’s still based on where and to whom you were born - that needs to change and quickly before the gap grows beyond retrieval.

What's the one useful link you can share with people that you think Working Digital attendees would like?

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