Daily note for 3 November 2023

I published a newsletter on Wednesday, talked a bit about blogging. Hadn’t done one for a whole and picked a fairly safe topic just to get back into the swing of things.

Today’s innovation igloo was a right laugh, as usual. Next time, Nick, me and the gang are meeting on Friday 17th November at 1pm and will be discussing the steps needed for an organisation to become truly data driven. If that sounds like your idea of quality thought-nosebag, sign up!

Have had a difficult week this week. I think I’m suffering a bit with stress, with a lot of work on and things happening at home. That seems to be affecting my blood sugar, which seems very high all the time, no matter what I eat or how much insulin I take. Tuesday I felt absolutely done in and spend the day asleep in bed.

Eddie Copeland wrote a nice post: Maintain, Fix, Equip, Create or Involve. What scale of solution do YOU need? I like stuff about levels of change and it’s helpful for people to remember that change – digital or otherwise – isn’t monolithic. It can mean different things depending on context and the outcome that is desirable and realistic. I wrote my own (sort of) version of this a while ago.

How video and images can help people complete forms – useful from Aderonke Olutunmogun at Citizens Advice Bureau (also, gah! Medium).

Nice new site from Emily Webber pulling bits and pieces together around communities of practice.

LINK: “People are not resources”

Resource. If you stop and think about it, it’s a terrible way to speak about people. A resource is something you take and use. Applied to people, it carries dismissive and devaluing undertones.

Original: https://medium.com/@davidcarboni/people-are-not-resources-13ac7a380f95

LINK: “All change is system change”

All change is system change — to say otherwise is to ignore a fundamental truth about organisations being living breathing human systems.

Original: https://medium.com/@curiouscatherinehowe/all-change-is-system-change-85ae7917a760

Two blockers to radical (digital) change

I was asked this morning for the two main blockers to progress in the various attempts at technology enabled change over the years, whether titled e-government or digital transformation.

Here’s what I came up with – it would be interesting to get your thoughts:

Two main challenges for me would be two elements of core capability. The first would be technology, and specifically software. The main line of business systems in use in most local councils is simply not fit for purpose for the digital age. They are horrible to use, don’t interoperate, work poorly on mobile, don’t offer great customer experience for self service and are dogs for the IT team to maintain. Time and time again, otherwise excellent initiatives at e-government or digital transformation are scuppered because of issues relating to core back office systems. What’s more, the market seems to find it impossible to have an impact on the situation, and so driving the incumbents out is very hard to do.

Second, and possibly more important, are the people issues. First is culture, which is risk and change averse, often because of the role of middle managers, many of whom are ‘experts’ in their service area and extremely dedicated to preserving the current way of doing things. Folk on the front line can often easily diagnose problems and suggest solutions, and senior executives are usually well up for a bit of disruptive change. However those in the middle can slow things down and block progress. The other bit of the people problem is capability, in that there aren’t enough really good people around in organisations to drive the change needed forward, which takes guts and stamina as well as intelligence. Without a reasonably sized army of these people in place, initiatives can get run into the ground very quickly.

Interesting publications on design, technology and change for ‘good’

I’m pulling together a list of interesting, thought-provoking reading on how design, technology and change (the three things that, for me, define ‘digital’) can help organisations that work in the community, voluntary, charity, non-profit, social enterprise type space.

Is there a less clumsy way of describing these organisations? I think under the last Labour government, ‘the third sector’ was adopted, but that seems to be used less these days. Have heard ‘civic sector’ and ‘civil society’ bandied around, but don’t know how well established those terms are. Any help on that one?

Anyway, I’ve found a few I will point to here:

Any others? Leave a note in the comments or on Twitter and I will add them.

Change is hard

It isn’t said enough, I don’t think, that change – particularly in big organisations – is hard. Really hard!

If it wasn’t, it would be happening all the time.

At events there are regularly discussions that go on along the lines of ‘my boss just doesn’t get it’ – tales of woe where someone wants to do something new but is stopped by management or bureaucracy or a combination of the two.

What makes a someone a real force for change is the ability to get knocked back, dust themselves down, and have another go.

Again, and again, and again.

It won’t happen the first time, or the second time. It might not even happen at all in one organisation – you might need to move on to get the chance.

But nothing worthwhile is ever easy and if you’re committed to making a difference, you’ll recover from setbacks, never get too disheartened and keep coming up with new ideas, new strategies and new ways of persuading.

It’s easy to have a go and give up. The ones who make the difference are those who stick at it.

Five for Friday – 14 March 2014

linksFive for Friday is WorkSmart’s weekly roundup of interesting stuff from the week’s reading.

  1. About change, defaults and disruption – “large organisations are racing against start-ups to stay relevant”. Great stuff from Anne McCrossan
  2. Creating a minimum viable product using WordPress – Chris Lema on using WordPress to throw together prototype services
  3. 5 More Unexpected Ways to Work Smarter, Not Harder – useful ideas. Thanks to Dan Slee for the link.
  4. Is it time to quit your job and launch that new start up? – nice video from Bethnal Green Ventures via the Nominet Trust
  5. Forrester argues piecemeal digital transformation won’t work – interesting research. Lovely quote: “Dabbling with digital isn’t the route to success”.
Did you know that WorkSmart has a Pinterest board where loads of cool stuff is shared?

Five for Friday – 7 March 2014

linksFive for Friday is WorkSmart’s weekly roundup of interesting stuff from the week’s reading.

  1. Attention, Please! PC Programs to Stave Off Distraction – can technology help you stop wasting time with technology?
  2. Oppia – a Google 20% project to “enable students to learn by doing online”
  3. The trajectory of ‘cultural change’ matters, as Microsoft demonstrates – even if you’re not interest in Microsoft itself, well worth a read for the culture change stuff
  4. Digital Analytics Fundamentals – a free online course on data stuff from Google
  5. The ART of Collaboration (reprise) – a great, very comprehensive post from Steve Dale on collaboration culture and technology.
Did you know that WorkSmart has a Pinterest board where loads of cool stuff is shared?

Link roundup

I find this stuff so you don’t have to:

The end of the IT department

37 Signals’ David Heinemeier Hansson:

When people talk about their IT departments, they always talk about the things they’re not allowed to do, the applications they can’t run, and the long time it takes to get anything done. Rigid and inflexible policies that fill the air with animosity. Not to mention the frustrations of speaking different languages. None of this is a good foundation for a sustainable relationship.

If businesses had as many gripes with an external vendor, that vendor would’ve been dropped long ago. But IT departments have endured as a necessary evil. I think those days are coming to an end.

Worth reading in full.