When people think about the Principality of Monaco, top of mind most likely will be Princess Grace or the Grand Prix, not digital leadership. But this is a tiny country with big digital ambitions.
Those ambitions began in earnest three months ago when it embarked on a major digital initiative, called Extended Monaco, designed to improve, modernize and digitize the principality and develop the economy through virtual activities.
Stéphan Bruno, the government of the Principality of Monaco’s head of HR, explains:
Our country is only two square kilometers, so we want to use digital technology and the digital economy to develop and attract new investors and companies.
Once digitized, it will be much easier for potential investors to navigate through the bureaucratic hoops needed to set up business there, providing them with the same kind of one-click-and-you’re-there experience provided by the likes of Amazon. Within two years, the aim is to digitize 100 public services.
Transforming these services requires a similar transformation of its 3,600 civil servants and agents too. Without their buy-in and without their willingness to change the way they work, the initiative could flounder.
Bruno’s mantra that “digital must not replace human capital” is a constant refrain at meetings:
We have to change our culture and our organization with digital tools, but first of all it’s a human challenge, because culture is all about the mindset; the way you work together. The public service in Monaco has a very vertical structure and we need very rapidly to change to a horizontal structure.
Paper processes, siloed working practices and an environment that Bruno describes as “very vertical, very autocratic and very erratic” need to make way for a culture of collaboration and digital thinking.
Yet, until six months ago, about 50% of civil servants did not even have a work email address and many had been with the government for 10 or 20 years, with entrenched ways of working.
To help with this massive cultural shift, the government set up its digital university, the Digital Academy earlier this year with the Coorpacademy digital training platform at its heart.
The Academy has many different online courses, all with the common underlying aim of helping employees improve their digital maturity and transform the organizational culture. A big part of that is soft skills, covering subjects such as how to talk in public, decision making, problem solving and communication skills.
Training was previously classroom based and was closely linked with job roles. Now, notes Bruno, the training is open to all employees without any need for managers’ permission. People make their own choices about what to study and the device they use:
It’s not about their job. All the people in the government have to understand that everything is changing more and more quickly, so we have to prepare them to change. The Digital Academy is a way to allow us to upscale everyone in the government.
Soft skills are key because it’s difficult to predict what hard skills will be required in even a couple of years time. What’s needed is to have an agile workforce who are open to change. As Bruno points out:
We want to train our people to think differently and work differently and to be as curious as possible.
The aim is to create a culture of constant learning, where people are continually updating their skills. So far, about 25% to 30% of the workforce are repeat users, accessing generic content from Coorpacademy.
The long-term aim is for the government to create its own content that more closely mirrors its strategy. It has already begun this shift to creating original, in-house content to run on the Coorpacademy platform, covering the recruitment interview and wellbeing in the workplace.
By the end of the year, the aim is to link this more closely with jobs and to use the digital training in conjunction with live training with managers, coaches and consultants at its learning lab, the Campus, launched earlier this year.
Once more specific, in-house generated content is available and regularly added to, the goal is to swell the regular user numbers to 40%to 50%. This will be a communications challenge and will require managers to help encourage people to use the platform.
A cultural change of this magnitude has its challenges, Bruno acknowledges:
For me the biggest challenge was to convince all the managers. A lot of managers were afraid that people would do training on the platform during work hours, but now every manager is convinced it is the best way.
It’s early days on the project, but Bruno notes:
The platform has already changed the culture. In the past the government was very closed and siloed and the platform is a way to open our structure and show everyone that they can do what they want on the platform, instead of having to ask their manager’s permission.Our people are free to do what they want and this is a very big change of culture and this is a way for us to drive engagement and develop the employability of individuals.