Post-post-bureaucrat

I’ve always rather liked the title of Steph’s blog and how he gives us occasional updates on how his life outside of the government machine is going. His post-bureaucrat life seems to be going really well.

I left government as a direct employee back in 2008 from which point on I was self employed, with a period working for Learning Pool as a proper employee for 18 months in the middle.

Now, I find myself employed directly by government again. Since April I was the interim Head of Digital and Design at Adur and Worthing, but a couple of weeks ago I was interviewed for the permanent role, and I got it.

So now I have gone from being post-bureaucrat to post-post-bureaucrat.

How does it feel? Here’s a few things that have occurred to me.

1) It’s great not having to sell stuff. Over the last few years I’ve had all sorts of ideas on how to do interesting stuff, to solve tricky problems. I didn’t get to test all of them though, because first I had to sell them.

Now I have this job, I’m in a position where I can just get on and do stuff, to test out some of the thinking I’ve been doing and see if it works in the real world.

2) This is exhausting. Part of the reason why I don’t blog much at the moment and am nowhere near as active on Twitter etc is that I just don’t have the energy. There is so much to be done, and having this role, and being permanent in this one organisation, has given me a sense of responsibility for getting stuff done, which means I am working as hard as I can, all the time.

3) My attitude to sharing has changed. Another reason why I’m not as active socially online as I was before is that my feelings towards it have changed. Social media was really all I had before to market myself, and I don’t have the need to sell any more.

It’s more than that though. There’s something about working at a local authority that affects your sense of loyalty. I haven’t lost my belief that being open and sharing ideas and work with others is a fundamentally good thing. It’s just that, with finite time, energy and attention, I’m more likely to do something that’s on my todo list at work.

I actually think that I need to rebalance this a little, as there is clear benefit for work if I am engaged online, finding out what is going on elsewhere and flying the flag for our approach.

4) I’m only just starting to calm down. It is a different pace when you’re in something for the long haul rather than a short term contract. Since I got here I think it is fair to say I was working at freelance pace, getting involved in everything I could, chucking out ideas, writing papers, making things happen.

It’s important to keep up a quick pace, I think, but I’m starting to learn the importance of pacing myself, choosing my battles a bit more carefully, learning when to step back and let others take the lead on some things.

5) LocalGovCamp will be interesting. Am really looking forward to this year’s event, especially after missing CommsCamp earlier in the year. This will be my first LocalGovCamp as a local government employee, so it will be a special one, I think.

I’m hoping to run a session with others on the topic of government as a platform and also to discussions about LocalGovDigital, which I feel now I can take a full part in, seeing as I’m now a paid up member of the club.

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Dave Briggs

I'm Head of Digital and Design at Adur and Worthing Councils.

3 thoughts on “Post-post-bureaucrat”

  1. Interesting stuff Dave. Glad you are tackling your new challenges with such verve.

    It’s notable that you say you struggle to get time for social media. When I am doing training courses I hear that a lot, and I generally tell people it’s just an excuse for not doing it as everyone can do stuff on their phones when stood in a queue or eating their lunch. So, to find one of the people who was a bit of a role model for me in the early days of my social media use saying this pulls me up and makes me think.

    I know it’s always easier to find time to do this stuff when your job is at least partly about social media. I’d be interested in what others in your kind of situation think.

    1. Yeah, it’s a weird one. I’ve always been the same as you – if something is worth doing, then you make time for it. Maybe that’s what I need to do now – deliberately find the time to think and read, and to write and share.

      But it is tough. When you find yourself responsible for delivery, priorities shift.

  2. Dave – congratulations on no longer being “interim” – may your permanence be infinite!

    Your post resonated with my experiences, before I got too old to care. I’ve found freelancing rewarding, challenging, interesting, frustrating and quite stressful, so a whole gambit of emotions. However, I’ve always dodged opportunities for permanence – I did my life sentence at Reuters and decided when I left that I wanted to be “free”. However I’ve learnt a lot, and continue to do so. One thing I’ve learnt is to manage my own time, which I now do pretty well. Pacing myself to complete the tasks that are before me, and that I’ve decided need to be done. What I can’t do is to manage everyone else’s time. That’s what can end up screwing your life. Carefully laid out plans and schedules that go out of the window because someone has let you down, which usually infers that you re-synchronise your life to fit in with their schedule. It’s even worse if the “someone” turns into “everyone”. So beware of “people” compromising your point 4!

    Picking up on social media and John’s comment – I think you’ve got your priorities right. At least 95% of social media is about selling stuff, whether it’s yourself, your product or your company. If you’re not looking for any of this stuff, social media starts to become increasingly irrelevant, and you need some real skill to pick out the 5% of useful stuff. I’ve learnt to use heuristics to hone my crap-detection skills, and my filters are now pretty effective!

    One last point, I’m interested in your take on government as a platform. I don’t want to go into it here, but I’m just embarking on a new (heap big) project that may evolve into “knowledge hub 2′, but I’m thinking more about capabilities than technology. I’d welcome a chat sometime.

    For now, good luck in the new permanent/infinite role 🙂

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