Today we have announced our ambitious new Digital Strategy. It aims to provide residents, businesses and partners with an overview of our digital ambitions for the borough, based on three broad pillars: Digital Communities, Digital Place and Digital Council.
The Tacit community of practice kick-off canvas helps get your community started or reset using a canvas framework that guides you through six questions… It has been available for a couple of years on my company website as a printable pdf, and I have recently turned it into a Miro board template, which anyone can use.
Despite politicians’ grand ambitions for DDaT since at least 1996, it’s had relatively little impact on radical government renewal and reform. Yet the political ambition has remained fairly constant during these 26 years: to ensure users are the focus, not providers; to design services more closely around people’s needs and lives; and to deliver more effective, and higher quality public services.
These two quick lateral thinking icebreaker games will help participants flex their creative thinking muscles before jumping into your workshops. I love that they help get people checked into the session and open up new ways of thinking, particularly good if you want creativity in your workshop.
While companies large and small have made considerable gains in building a scalable and sustainable architecture, we’re left with the uncomfortable questions: is what we’re doing truly providing value? Do we really know who our users are and understand their needs? If so, can they generate insights in a fast and reliable way? As long as users don’t complain and pipelines don’t fail, does that mean all is well? For all our investment in data, are we seeing the return?
As we enter this new phase, I am keen that we now move away from being seen as just an IT provider to the rest of the council to one where we can start to work more collaboratively in partnership with our service leads so that we prioritise, manage our demand, design and shape and build great digital services together; a place where we cultivate and nurture an environment of working in the open; grow our digital talent and become centres of excellence of good practice across our various digital and technology disciplines.
Today we’re sharing the first of our new user research templates and guides. We designed these for teams working within the council, and they can easily be adapted for teams working in other councils. You’ll find these on GitHub. Download them, make them your own, and let us know if we can make them even better.
For what it’s worth, my instinct is that the NHS might be the place that leads (by doing) the settler phase over the next 10-years. Showing by doing. The work of the last 2-years during the pandemic, the recent restructuring, and some conversations with people leading this work all make it sound like they’re explicitly investing in the work of the settler phase. Looking closer to my old home, the Office of the Public Guardian is doing this at a smaller scale.
In 2017, I was asked to ‘make digital happen’ at the council. Digital is such a broad agenda and needs to permeate everything we do and think about in the organisation. Although the ICT function in the council initiated ‘digital’, I didn’t want technology to be the focus of the change activity.
Two opportunities presented themselves in different service areas when we were about to experiment with service design. We engaged FutureGov, who worked alongside service leads, ICT business analysts, content designers and application support officers, exposing them to user-centred design and working in multi-disciplinary teams.
I’m always looking out for good examples of teams working in the open, and this WRA team are doing everything right. If you want to write good weeknotes about a digital project, just do what this team are doing, and you’ll be doing a great a job.
The important thing to pass on from our experience is that change doesn’t happen overnight. Patience and conviction of cause will help solve one problem at a time. You need to forge alliances and earn trust that will help change to happen.
Today is International Women’s Day. So, we asked a few of the women working in technology at Made Tech to share insights about equality and working in the industry, including how they’d change the tech industry for the better. Here’s what they said…
As mentioned in this post, I have started to find some time to read a bit more, and to bookmark useful stuff. Here’s what I have found in recent days (if I am honest, less than I would have expected – although maybe the time of year is to blame for that).
I’ve seen enough of this now to know the cycle. You all know the cycle. Government business is being done badly. Everyone’s fed up. Influential voices outside the incumbent delivery team grow and grow. Eventually they get a go at it. Rinse. And repeat.
Nearly ten years ago, Google shipped an unassuming, totally unbranded laptop to a large group of journalists and tech enthusiasts as part of a 60,000 unit pilot program. That laptop was the CR-48, and it was designed to showcase a project Google had been working on internally for well over a year. It was called Chrome OS.
Where we’re working to fix the plumbing, we should be doing so specifically to enhance capabilities that improve boroughs’ ability to tackle real-world problems. We can only determine if we’re doing that well by proactively working with colleagues to deliver some real-world outcomes.
So much of our lives are subject to the unconscious biases and technological evangelism’s of the people who create the virtual worlds and services we spend so much of our time in and our current fascination with ethics is a desire to create a controlling framework around the tools and systems which are now controlling our lives.
You can find everything I have ever bookmarked ever on Pinboard. I also tweet out these bookmarks as I create them.
We first talked about updating the service standard around a year ago. Since then, we’ve talked to hundreds of people in central and local government.
It’s still a work in progress, but we think we’re getting close to a final draft which supports the government’s ambition to deliver joined up, end to end services that meet user needs. So we thought it would be useful to provide some details about the direction it’s going in.
The objective of the survey was to understand current activity across government in what might be termed new or emerging technologies that are related to digital or information technologies. Loosely defined, these are new technologies that do not currently have a critical mass, but which may have the potential to disrupt industries or generate significant savings.
We need to prepare for a world where people might not access GOV.UK through their computer or smartphone, but could be using Alexa, Google Assistant or some technology that hasn’t even been created yet. We need to make GOV.UK understandable by humans and machines.
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.
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.