The Digital Mindset – Book Debrief

In our book debriefs we’re looking to share recommendations on great books to support the work of digital leaders.  Today we’re looking at Paul Leonardi and Tsedal Neeley’s “The Digital Mindset”.

A woman reading a book.
Photo by Rahul Shah

You don’t have to know everything

You don’t have to be an expert in all things digital.  That is the key takeaway from Paul Leonardi and Tsedal Neeley’s excellent “The Digital Mindset”. Its a deeply reassuring insight for digital leaders.

A brain with a lightbulb above it to show a good idea.
Photo by Katrin Bolovstova

The digital world is developing so rapidly that its impossible to be an expert across it all. Digital leaders should instead focus on developing digital competence.  Leonardi and Neeley helpfully compare this to learning a language. It’s great to be fluent but that requires a much stronger grasp on the language than is required to effectively communicate with people.  This leads them to the 30% rule.

The 30% Rule

To confidently hold a conversation, people need to learn about 30% of a language.  They don’t need to learn 100%.  In the same way, digital leaders should focus on achieving 30% competence across key digital topics rather than needing to know everything.

Leonardi and Neeley spend the rest of the book outlining the fundamentals that digital leaders need to understand both now and in the future.

The book is structured in three parts:

  • Collaboration (which focuses on working with machines and cultivating your digital presence)
  • Computation (which unpacks data, analytics, and statistics)
  • Change (which explores cybersecurity and privacy, experimentation and innovation, and leading through change)

They argue that what leaders most need to understand is the way that digital has transformed the key skills of Collaboration, Computation, and Change.  The book then outlines what digital leaders to know about how things have changed and then explains how digital leaders should respond accordingly.

People collaborating digitally.
Photo by Windows on Unsplash

If you consider yourself a digital leader than I’d strongly recommend reading “The Digital Mindset”.  It reassures you that you don’t need to know everything and then helpfully outlines the things you most need to know about to be effective in your role.  It’s an excellent primer on digital.

What books have you read recently that have helped you to think things through from a digital perspective?

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