Just before Christmas, I crept around the office one afternoon, handing out some gift packs to five colleagues.

Each pack contained a tablet, a copy of Euan Semple’s book, a Starbucks voucher, and a letter from me explaining what this is all about. I wanted to see if any or all of these items combined might provide the recipients with enough inspiration to bring digital into their way of working.

The good people at Microsoft kindly extended the loan of the tablets, so the project has another week or so to run.

What has happened, so far?

1. A little bit of digital engagement – hurrah!

Two of the recipients have ramped up their activity online, and importantly, started talking directly to their audience. Yes, it’s on Twitter (and I originally said I didn’t just want five new Twitter profiles from this), but the important thing is that they have responded to questions and are regularly looking.

When this phase is complete, I’m hoping some of the recipients will blog about this from their perspective. This will help them spread the range of channels they are using.

2. Clarity

In my team we hear a lot about the challenges to digital adoption in the office, but it’s often difficult to determine those that are the most problematic.

Turns out, that when you give people a complete package; a device to solve IT, a coffee voucher to make the time, tools to find conversations and a book to make the case for ‘why?’ – time is still the biggest hurdle. Indeed, one of the original recipients felt she didn’t have enough time at all and passed the pack on to a colleague. Useful in itself, because it rammed home the message that the digital as a way of working still has a long way to go.

3. No one-size-fits-all approach

That’s probably why big organisations struggle with this. One recipient has gone from not looking at online communities, networks and conversations at all, to regularly searching dashboards. He was entirely motivated by the tablet.

Another recipient loved the book and the tips, because it gave her a combination of the intellectual argument for digital, with some practical advice. She’s taken this advice to her team meeting, and is making things happen.

And for a third recipient, this combination of items was the nudge she needed to do more.

4. Practitioners

All the recipients have tried, or are doing, something practical, using the web, depending on where they started from. That’s better progress than a month of training courses or articles on an intranet.

5. More recruits

The recipients represent a variety of grades and responsibilities. Regardless of this, being part of this project has led three of them (so far) to spread the word – take their experience to their team meetings, share links to useful things they found, and generate more enquiries for the digital team. I don’t like results that are about ‘raising awareness’, but I’m certainly having fresh conversations with teams I’d either never met, or who generally needed a nudge.

6. A little bit of sanity

A little freelance project is invaluable on those bad days when other things aren’t working out. It’s been exciting to see the recipients do things for the first time, do more, speak to their colleagues or ask questions. It’s shown me that most of my colleagues are up for trying something a bit different. And it is rewarding to hear that the idea is being tried elsewhere.

I’m hoping the next post you see about this will be from some of the recipients.