Doing things better is hard because it presupposes you know what you are doing and why you are doing it. You have to understand and be clear on your goals and your vision, and the outcomes you want your projects, programmes and organisation to meet. And you have to have the trust and explicit support of everyone around you.
Right now, there is growing interest in the role that learning can play in organisational change, but we are starting from a place where learning is seen as separate to the practice of work, and also something different from more operationally focused knowledge sharing.
Transformation is a world away from simply polishing the way things are currently done (the “lipstick on pigs” approach – the tired web- and form-based service design ethos of the past few decades, stuck Groundhog Day-like inside the broken silos and reference frames of existing organisational services). Improving our public services relies on the ability to step back and rethink and redesign current public policy by focusing relentlessly and selflessly on improved outcomes, with a profoundly beneficial and positive impact on people and their experience of delivering or receiving public services.
We’re working to find out what a digital planning application service would look like if it were “so good, people prefer to use it”. However, one of the early things we learnt was that high quality data is the key enabler of providing a better digital service.
I’ve not heard anyone disagree that this is a good thing. There were many people at the event who were passionate about user centred services and about designing end to end services. Why is user research not given the priority it needs and why do we still continue to pay little attention to it when undertaking transformation activity and service redesign?
The movement to modernize government technology has been focused on the delivery of government services using modern technology and best practices. But that is only half the solution; now we must also learn to drive policy and operations around delivery and users, and complete the feedback circuit. Only then can we effectively achieve the goals government policies intend.
The Ad Hoc Government Digital Services Playbook compiles what we’ve learned from four years of delivering digital services for government clients. Our playbook builds on and extends the Digital Services Playbook by the United States Digital Service. The USDS playbook is a valuable set of principles, questions, and checklists for government to consider when building digital services. If followed, the plays make it more likely a digital services project will succeed.
Digital technology, coupled with design approaches, can help third sector organisations expand the reach of existing services, sense and respond to new needs as they emerge, and achieve more for less.
Transforming an organisation is fundamentally about working with people to help them do new things and work in new ways. There’s a whole industry built on workplace training with courses, curricula and training providers to fit almost any skills gap. But when it comes to digital transformation, this way of thinking falls short in several ways.
Although digital technologies are a powerful way to change a service, what really matters is the method with which change is done: user research, UX design, agile working, co-design, and solving problems in experimental ways. We now want to apply those methods to a wider set of problems, not all involving digital tech.