Supporting innovation in local government

i had a great morning in Exeter at the beginning of the week, talking with the corporate management team at Devon County Council about innovation and digital. Dom Campbell was there too, thus proving that the two of us can both be in the same room at the same time.

We were invited down by Carl Haggerty, who has been one of the most relentless supporters of new working and the opportunities of technology to change local government for the better. In September, Carl is running Open Space South West – an event all about nurturing innovation in public services in the area. I’ll be speaking at it, and I recommend you come down if you can. Tickets here.

In my little session, I spoke about how digital innovation can happen within local government by making some small cultural changes and giving examples of them in action. My slides are embedded below, or if you can’t access sites like Slideshare, here’s a PDF you can download.

I wrote a fair bit about supporting innovation in councils about 18 months ago, my starting point being the skunkworks in central government, which is now part of the Government Digital Service at the Cabinet Office. The posts were:

It’s fair to say with hindsight I think that I got rather carried away with the concept of skunkworks in those posts. But the point is that few local councils have a properly thought-out and communicated approach to innovation. If someone in the organisation has an idea about making things better, where do they go? How do they tell people about it? How are ideas judged, prototyped and implemented?

It ought not be too hard to come up with a simple model that can be customised by individual authorities. It could involve a simple platform for identifying issues and problems, or sharing ideas, combined with some open space style face to face get togethers where solutions can be explored and worked on. Regular reporting on progress and evaluating activity would be vital too.

Any local authorities (or other organisations!) up for trying something out? Could be really interesting.

(The photo, if your’re interested, is of Dawlish in Devon where I and the family stayed during our brief visit to the area.)

What I’ve been reading

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

You can find all my bookmarks on Pinboard.

Bookmarks for April 30th through May 14th

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

  • Should the Public Sector pay for Content Management Systems? « Carl’s Notepad – [with open source] "You will still need to consider the integration aspects but open source products are far more likely to integrate (openness is key) then the big supplier products (no motivation to integrate)."
  • Office 2010: the SharePoint factor – "The simple conclusion then is that to make sense of Office 2010 you need SharePoint 2010. The snag is that SharePoint is not something to roll out casually. Although it has a huge number of interesting features, it is also complex and easy to break. "
  • No Overall Control – a Future State of ICT – "To really address the gap between people in ICT and people who work in the Business (people outside of ICT) you actually need to start moving the competencies that IT Professionals have into the Business."
  • The Fate of the Semantic Web – "While many survey participants noted that current and emerging technologies are being leveraged toward positive web evolution in regard to linking data, there was no consensus on the technical mechanisms and human actions that might lead to the next wave of improvements – nor how extensive the changes might be."
  • tecosystems » I Love WordPress But… – "the reasons we self-host our WordPress instances are being eliminated at an accelerating rate"
  • Meatball Wiki – "Meatball is a community of active practitioners striving to teach each other how to organize people using online tools."
  • Amazon Pursues The Feds and the Potential Billions in Cloud Computing Services – ReadWriteCloud – "Amazon is quietly pursuing the multi-billion dollar federal cloud computing market, intensifying an already fast accelerating sales and marketing effort by Google, Microsoft and a host of others."
  • What’s Wrong With CSS – "Most of all, what I've learned from this exercise in site theming is that CSS is kind of painful. I fully support CSS as a (mostly) functional user interface Model-View-Controller. But even if you have extreme HTML hygiene and Austrian levels of discipline, CSS has some serious limitations in practice."
  • WordPress-to-lead for Salesforce CRM – "People can enter a contact form on your site, and the lead goes straight into Salesforce CRM: no more copy pasting lead info, no more missing leads: each and every one of them is in Salesforce.com for you to follow up."
  • A Collection of 50+ Enterprise 2.0 Case Studies and Examples – Nice resource. Some great examples in here.
  • Headshift Projects: Projects by Sector – Nice collection of social software case studies.

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.

Learning Pool in Devon

Exeter bus

Right folks, here’s what is happening on Thursday.

At 11am a networking meeting will kick off at Buckerell Lodge in Exeter. You’ll get to listen to me talk about my latest obsessions in social media and Mary will natter about Learning Pool developments. Don’t worry if you haven’t bagged a place yet – a couple of people have dropped out, so just get in touch if you fancy coming along – it’ll be ace.

After that, we will be having some lunch, to which everyone is invited. Everything should be finished up by 2ish.

Movements this week

Another busy week this.

Tomorrow I am speaking at 4Children’s 18th Annual Policy Conference, on the subject of engaging young people with social media. I understand Tim Davies was unavailable 😉

On Thursday Mary and I will be traveling down to Devon to hang out in Exeter for a couple of days. The Thursday itself will feature a networking event and lunch sponsored by Learning Pool, where anyone with any connection to the public and third sectors can come and meet other interesting folk – as well as Carl Haggerty. There are still one or two spaces left, so let me know if you’d like to come along.

On Friday we will be attending the Likeminds conference, which is shaping up to be an excellent day – I’m really looking forward to it. The speaker lineup is fabulous.

OpenSpaceDevon

Carl Haggerty has launched a great initiative down in Devon:

Carl writes:

It would be great to get public sector professionals, voluntary organisations and business people involved in these areas all together and working through some of these issues and topics – Basically, i’d imagine the event to involve anyone who has an interest and passion to improve public services in general.

This is an interesting idea, and one I’m totally in agreement with. Take the format used by LocalGovCamp and other unconferences, but make it all about the geographical area. Bring together public, third and private sectors to thrash out new ways of doing things, and hopefully spark the enthusiasm needed for some of the organisational battles required to get stuff moving.

Just the sort of event I was thinking about when I wrote this post after the Lincoln LocalGovCamp.

So if you are in Devon, or just interested, pop along to the network Carl has created and join in the discussions!