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.

Radical transparency in local government – what can you do?

Something like Wikileaks couldn’t happen in local government, could it?

Watching LCC

Well, it looks like something similar is kicking off in Lincolnshire, with the Watching Lincolnshire County Council blog.

It’s a whistleblowing site, where disgruntled employees are sharing rumours, gossip and occasionally confidential details, all anonymously. Collective Responsibility have an interview with those behind it.

Whether or not this is the right thing for those behind the site to do is a moot point. The real issue is that the internet makes this kind of activity easy to do, and very difficult to stop.

All organisations need to be aware of the fact that any of their employees at any time could start something similar. And no matter how sophisticated your information management systems and processes, the fact that it’s human beings behind the controls means that any data can find its way into the public domain quickly and easily.

What can you do about it? First of all, acknowledge your lack of control here. You can’t stop this from happening. All you can do is to try and prevent the situation arising where employees might want to do this.

That means: be open in your communication, and involve and engage staff in any large scale change programme that might be taking place. Examples such as Watching LCC show that staff are increasingly willing to go to the internet to share their concerns – other instances include the setting up of Facebook groups to support staff in similar circumstances.

One way to prevent this is to provide a similar area for discussion within the organisation, such as simple discussion forums, or with tools like Yammer. Ensure staff trust the space, don’t manage it, and hopefully they will prefer to air their issues internally rather than in a public space.

There’s an assumption that face to face communications are always best. That may be true, but the problem is that they don’t scale well. As soon as you are dealing with groups larger than say 25, the intimacy is lost and there are better ways of dealing with it.

I remember being involved in an organisation-wide restructure when working in local government, and most of the communications involved hundreds of people trooping into the council chamber to hear the chief executive tell us what was going to happen to us. There was an opportunity to ask questions, in front of everyone. Unsurprisingly, not many people bothered.

Discussing issues openly and in a trusted online environment won’t be a panacea for employee engagement during times of significant change. But it might mitigate against the risk of staff going elsewhere to have these conversations.

Has anyone else heard of any public sector staff rebellions, using the web? Are any of your organisations actively managing the issue – and is it in a positive, constructive way, or a negative, let’s-shut-it-down way? The latter, of course, is bound to fail.

Change for the better

It’s pretty obvious that local government, like all areas of public service, is facing a challenging time.

Most of Learning Pool’s customers work within Organisational Development, or Learning and Development roles, and when budgets get cut, it’s often training that suffers.

However, as I pointed out in a talk at our ‘Hit the North’ event a couple of weeks ago in Sheffield, this could be a really good opportunity for folk working in these roles.

After all, during times of change, getting staff on board is a really tricky thing, and L&D people often have access to channels and tools that are already trusted by, and engaged with, by a lot of staff.

This is especially true of Learning Pool customers who have our learning management system – the DLE – which provides web 2.0 functionality including blogs, wikis, forums, live chats and all sorts of other interactive goodness.

Here’s my slides, which cover a whole load of ground. Not sure what happened to the font…

As an extra help, we’ve produced a free e-book to point out some of the ways that collaborative, social and learning technology can help organisations in the midst of significant change.

You can download it, and access a bunch of other cool resources, by clicking on the graphic below.

Change for the Better

Bookmarks for March 30th through April 5th

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

  • The Collapse of Complex Business Models « Clay Shirky – Awesome stuff from Shirky.
  •   Reflecting on my MSc research by Michele Ide-Smith – "By researching the attitudes and perceptions of authorities and citizens I hope to gain a better understanding of perceived barriers, threats and opportunities of using social media for community engagement"
  • Cinch – "Cinch is a free and easy way to create and share audio, text and photo updates using your phone or computer. Cinch enables you to capture and report on your experiences in a way that simple text just can't do. Using a simple interface, you can make and broadcast your content creations through Facebook, Twitter, CinchCast.com and more."
  • The State of the Internet Operating System – O’Reilly Radar – "Ask yourself for a moment, what is the operating system of a Google or Bing search? What is the operating system of a mobile phone call? What is the operating system of maps and directions on your phone? What is the operating system of a tweet?"
  • Penval’s Digital Inclusion Manifesto – Well done Paul Nash. This is what the digital inclusion debate needs – proper, thought through ideas. Genuinely constructive contributions. Not just people bleating about the problems.
  • tecosystems » Forking, The Future of Open Source, and Github – Is the future of open source going to be based on communities such as Apache and Eclipse or will it be based on companies that sell open source? Neither.
  • Dr Dennis Kimbro & his views on recruitment – Really interesting and thought provoking piece on talent management, and attitudes to it, in local government.
  • In quest of simplicty – "We expect IT to be complex and costly, but the lesson of the past 5 years in IT – where we’ve seen the consumerization of enterprise IT (“enterprise” is often a coy way of saying “this has to be complex and expensive – no questions!”) – is that IT can be both simple and cheap."
  • Law and social media – dull but important – "Social media throws up issues of privacy and identity which are far more complex when you have a complete record of someone’s time online and a also a need to balance the personal with the professional roles of an individual. "
  • Powerful petitions with real teeth set to bite – "Local people can now demand their councils take action on underperforming schools and hospitals, drink disorder, anti-social behaviour and other concerns under new rules giving real power to local petitions, announced Communities Secretary John Denham today."

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.

Bookmarks for March 18th through March 20th

[Something is going wrong with this again. For some reason this hadn’t been posted before now.]

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.