Monthly Archives: April 2010

Bookmarks for April 25th through April 30th

I find this stuff so that you don’t have to.

You can find all my bookmarks on Delicious. There is also even more stuff on my shared Google Reader page.

You can also see all the videos I think are worth watching at my video scrapbook.

Productivity, responsiveness and lighter weight

I rather like this, from Gartner’s Mark McDonald:

While the future will require IT to deliver enterprise specific strategies and initiatives there are a few considerations to keep mind:

Project managers’ localgovcamp today

The latest in the seemingly unstoppable movement of localgovcamps is happening today, in Cheltenham. It’s subject specific, and is going to be all about project management and that sort of thing.

Great work by the team at Cheltenham Borough Council in throwing this together: Jon Hyde, David Wenban and Fiona Legge, amongst others.

Learning Pool is proud to be sponsoring the event, and you can follow all the action on Twitter via the ppmlgc tag.

Net2 Cambridge

NetsquaredI had a lovely time on Saturday at Barcamb, a techie unconference in Cambridge. Quite a bit techier, actually, than I’m used to – but that offered a different perspective on things, which was rather nice.

It also meant catching up with some friends, like Mark Cheverton, Matt Wood and Simon Jones – and bumping into new people, like Barcamb organisers Vero Pepperell and Lee Theobold and cool hacker types like Gareth Rushgrove.

Another one of those new people was Claire Sale, who works for NetSquared, the rather cool US-based organisation that “enables social benefit organisations to leverage the tools of the social web”. That makes her a colleague of the marvellously energetic Amy Sample Ward, which is a jolly good thing.

One of the things Amy has been doing in London is setting up a NetSquared network, where “Social changemakers and technological forerunners come together at Net Tuesday events to mix, swap stories and ideas, [and] build new relationships”. Claire is hoping to get something similar going in Cambridge.

There is already a Meetup page setup, where people interested in attending, and maybe helping out, can get together and get stuff done. I’m guessing this will take a similar form to the London group – let’s just get people in a room together first, and then worry about what we should be doing.

Net2Camb seems a decent tag to apply to blog stuff, tweets and other online material to track activity and conversations.

Jos Creese new Socitm President

Hampshire County Council’s Head of IT Jos Creese is the President of Socitm for the next 12 months, and if this quote is anything to go by, he seems an ideal man for the job:

IT professionals must carve out a role as agents of change, helping to re-shape the face of public services. This means involvement in policy formulation and service redesign, not technology. It also means taking risks and being at the forefront of change, rather than keeping busy in the data centre.

As reported on UKauthorITy.com.

Bookmarks for April 19th through April 23rd

I find this stuff so that you don’t have to.

  • Open innovation, why bother? – 100% Open – "…if open innovation is to deliver sustainable business advantage then we need a better understanding of what motivates contributors to these initiatives, else there is a risk of a backlash against them…"
  • Docs.com – MS Office + Facebook beats Google Docs? Am not convinced!
  • TALKI – The easiest way to embed a forum – Embed a forum on your website – just like that! Users can sign in with Facebook, Twitter or Google accounts.
  • Government 2.0 Can and Must Save Money – "I think that the current shortage of resources and a sometimes dramatic budgetary situation can be a powerful incentive to make this change happen, to tap into the creativity of employees as well as external resources." YES!!!
  • Red Sweater Blog – Apple Downloads – VERY interesting – is Apple going to go down the App Store route for vetting Mac software now, too?
  • HTML5 presentation – "Slideshow-style presentation on HTML5 made using HTML5."
  • CDC Provides a Great Example of What Social Media Is About – "CDC’s strategy puts them in a better position to identify patterns where trust may be shifting elsewhere early enough to take action: many other agencies worldwide, which just care about publishing data and creating their Facebook pages, will be taken by surprise."
  • data.lincoln.gov.uk (beta) – Lincoln City Council start publishing data publicly – great work, and props to Andrew Beeken who must have driven this through.
  • Simplifying the social web with XAuth – "We think that XAuth can simplify and improve the social web, while keeping your private information safe. This is just one of many steps that Google is taking, along with others in the industry, to make the social web easier and more personalized."
  • Open Government and the Future of Public Sector IT – Great talk from Microsoft's Dave Coplin.

You can find all my bookmarks on Delicious. There is also even more stuff on my shared Google Reader page.

You can also see all the videos I think are worth watching at my video scrapbook.

DavePress podcast 2 – Andrew Beeken

In the second DavePress podcast I chat to Andrew Beeken of the City of Lincoln Council about the new open data site he has just launched, data.lincoln.gov.uk.

[audio:http://media.libsyn.com/media/davepress/DavePressEp2.mp3%5D

If you can’t, or don’t want to, use the flash player, you can download the .mp3 instead or subscribe with iTunes.

If you have any feedback – or volunteer to be a participant in a podcast, please do so in the comments below, or emailpodcast@davepress.net.

For those that want to know, here’s how the podcast is produced.

Opportunities for serendipity

Excellent stuff from Andrew McAfee:

I think serendipity is part of what underlies Metcalfe’s Law and a big part of the explanation for Eric Raymond’s insight that ‘given enough eyeballs, all bugs are shallow.’ Knowledge workers and their organizations should be doing everything possible to increase opportunities for serendipity. This means searching broadly for information, narrating work so that others can become aware of it, asking questions to the biggest possible audience without presupposing who might have the answers, and generally contributing to and drawing from the biggest possible digital commons. This is what Enterprise 2.0 should be all about.

More on recruitment and talent management

GeeknRollaFollowing up on my earlier post on good things to look for in people when you are hiring – Recruit the internet-savvy – I picked up on some useful notes whilst at TechCrunch‘s GeeknRolla on recruiting into startups, which I think are useful for pretty much any organisation. I also think it’s interesting to think how public services can learn from the culture of startup businesses, including around recruitment.

The talk was by Pete Smith from Songkick, which is a service that lets you track all sorts of information about your favourite live music acts, such as upcoming concerts, videos and recordings.

Here’s the notes:

  • Hiring is a top challenge for a startup and getting it wrong can serious affect momentum
  • Always be hiring
  • Better not to hire though, rather than to compromise on talent and drive
  • Very inefficient to hire from outside your network – plan for this
  • Grow your network as it’s the best way to hire good people
  • Have a hiring roadmap, build it into other choices: buildings, perks, and the tech you use
  • Risk taking in hiring comes later in a startup’s life, not early on
  • Vet applications ruthlessly before even meeting people
  • Spend as much time growing your network as you do looking at ‘non-network’ candidates
  • Hiring devs – use coding exercises then phone interview, then tech interview, then a ‘pairing session’ (not sure what that is)
  • Everyone you hire initially is vital to establishing the culture of your startup
  • How to recover from hiring errors: make sure you leave things on a good note. Don’t let people leave under a cloud. Make decision quickly but manage the exit – don’t let it drag on. Better to leave work undone than allow the wrong people to keep going.

These thoughts chime in with some activity coming out of the IDeA with regard to talent management, recruit and workforce planning. In the current financial climate, there is a lot of talk of cuts and redundancies which has the potential to be incredibly damaging.

So, the IDeA have launched an online resource, on ‘organisational redesign‘ with some useful case studies and guidance. A thriving community of practice also exists too (with various layers of sign-up required).

I honestly believe that local authorities could make massive improvements to their efficiency and levels of service if they recruited better, and made better use of the talent they already have. I consider myself to be a great example of the failings of local government workforce management. Some of the things that are important, I think, are:

  • To get people to do a good job, they need a good job to do
  • Innovators and the enthusiastic should not be treated as troublemakers or weirdos, but be treasured and made to feel special
  • Staff should be trusted. If you genuinely can’t trust all of them, give the good ones leeway
  • Give people the tools they need to be able to do their job well
  • Value things like curiosity, generosity, cooperation and openness
  • Allow the good people in your organisation to find each other
  • Have proper systems and processes in place for inventive people to be able to suggest and progress good ideas

The IDeA are also organising an event in Birmingham on 19th May, called ‘Designing a fit for the future organisation‘. I’m going, because it sounds pretty interesting. Hope to see others there.

Enterprise mashups

Quite a few people – at least those that read this blog and others like it – are comfortable with the idea of mashups, the activity of taking data from one source, and combining it with one or more others to create something useful and interesting.

Often this happens on maps, but of course it doesn’t have to.

One potential application of this sort of technology which doesn’t get discussed much, certainly in the public services context, is enterprise mashups, in other words applying these techniques within the organisation, behind the firewall. So, taking a set of data or statistics from one department and mashing it up with another.

I’d read about enterprise mashups before, but the idea didn’t really catch on until I saw Bill Ive’s post about JackBe, a vendor providing a platform for organisations to do this stuff. Here’s a video giving an example of how JackBe can be used:

I certainly remember my days as a Business Analyst at a county council where I spent days taking information from one source and having to reformat it to make it play nicely with another, usually in Excel. Having a tool like this available would have made life much easier.

Here’s a whitepaper explaining all this in more detail (PDF warning).

(Obviously, there are other providers of enterprise mashup platforms and not just JackBe, it’s just that I wasn’t looking at their websites when I was writing this post.)