Link roundup

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

How the digital workplace is transforming office life

Great talk from Sharon O’Dea:

By moving information and services online, successful companies enable their staff to work from any location, and almost any device, so that work becomes what you do, not where you go. In this session, learn how the digital workplace supports more flexible working, reduces costs – and makes employees happier and healthier.

Link roundup

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

Two councils collaborating

We recently helped Breckland Council and South Holland District Council work a bit better together by building them a shared, social intranet called The Place.

Today the Chief Executive of both councils, Terry Huggins, had a piece in on the Guardian’s website talking about it all. Here’s a snippet:

When Breckland council and South Holland district council , located in different counties and 50 miles apart, decided to share a seniormanagement team, it was quickly apparent that good communication would be vital.

Video conferencing and webex were inadequate. What was needed was a facility to leave messages, share ideas, communicate news, and collaborate on documents.

With these aims in mind we set up ‘the Place’, our own collaboration and communication platform, developed by online innovation agency, Kind of Digital.

The Place is like our own version of Facebook, but secure, and private to the two councils. Each member has a profile, listing their contact information and also searchable lists of what they do and what skills they have.

Everyone has the ability to post Twitter-style status updates to the whole network, and can join groups of shared interest to collaborate on documents and other activities.

The similarity of the Place to other technology such as Facebook and Twitter is important to its success. Many of our people are now comfortable and familiar with those sites in their personal lives. By making a work system look and operate in a similar way, we rapidly improve levels of engagement with it.

We researched and tested various software products, but decided to work with Kind of Digital as they could develop something customised to our exact needs.

That doesn’t mean we’ve wasted time reinventing the wheel. The Place is built on open source software, reducing development costs and time, and freeing resources to engage staff with using the system.

If you’ve got a need for something like this, you know where I am.

How can technology support public sector collaboration?

Last week’s webinar went fairly well, I’d like to think. You can judge for yourself by watching it below – it’s split up into two parts, probably because I talk too much.

To be able to read the slides it’s probably best to watch in full screen mode.

Lots of people asked questions and I couldn’t answer them all on the day, so here’s a quick document with responses to some of the other points that were made.

Here are the slides themselves. If you can’t see the Slideshare embed, here is the downloadable PDF version.

Don’t forget to check out all the great stories of public sector collaboration Learning Pool are publishing as part of our Collaboration Quarter campaign.

If you’d like to talk about how you might better use social technology to improve collaboration within your organisation, or indeed when working in partnership with others, just get in touch!

Bookmarks for August 18th through September 8th

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

  • Civic Commons code-sharing initiative bids to reduce government IT costs – "Around the United States, city governments have created a multitude of software. Unfortunately, most of the time the code from those projects is not shared between municipalities, which results in duplication of effort and redundant, static software."
  • Anonymity, trust and openness on the social intranet – "In some organisations, the cloak of anonymity could help to establish the first part of that trust relationship, and reassure colleagues that leaders are, in fact, really listening; once it exists, it’s easier to step out of the shadows with a greater degree of trust and openness."
  • The end of history – "History will, of course, look after itself. It always has. But the future history of our time will be different from our histories of past times, and that will not be because we have an eye to the future, but because we are always relentless focused on the present."
  • Why aren’t we all working for Learning Organisations? – "…the authors suggest a way for managers to switch from a ‘command and control’ to a ‘systems thinking’ mindset in order to achieve genuine organisational learning."
  • Quixly – Cool way to host and deliver paid-for content, such as e-books.
  • Understanding Marin County’s $30 million ERP failure – It's not just UK government that cocks up IT projects.
  • Google Wave open source next steps: "Wave in a Box" – "We will expand upon the 200K lines of code we've already open sourced (detailed at waveprotocol.org) to flesh out the existing example Wave server and web client into a more complete application or "Wave in a Box.""
  • Should Governments Legislate a Preference for Open Source? – "It's easy to legislate a preference for Open Source, and difficult to implement a level playing field upon which Open Source and proprietary software could compete fairly. Thus, a number of governments have enacted the preference as an easy-to-legislate way of solving the problem, but I submit not optimally. Having a preference gives proprietary software an opening to portray themselves as the "injured party", when the reality is that historically there has been a preference for proprietary software in both legislation and internal process of government purchasers, and this still exists today."
  • Wiki life – "The point, in the end, is that Wikimedia by its DNA operates in public and benefits accrue — not just as product and engagement and promotion and distribution but also as strategy. That’s the next step in creating the truly public company or organization."
  • First Impressions: VaultPress (WordPress Backup) – Nice summary of the premium backup service for WordPress (sadly just in beta at the moment).
  • Sink or Swim – Donald Clark on the birth of Learning Pool and why the public sector needs it more than ever.
  • Damien Katz: Getting Your Open Source Project to 1.0 – Great notes on successful open source development.
  • Harold Jarche » The Evolving Social Organization – "For decades, organizational growth has been viewed as a positive development, but it has come at a cost."
  • O’Reilly, Open Government and the Ingenuity of Enthusiasm – "It is quite clear that performance management and procurement, as well as many other government processes, need to be revised, reformed or radically changed. But this won’t happen unless we recognize that government and its employees need to remain in charge, need to stay as the custodians of neutrality and transparency, and we, the people, developers or users, can just help them do a better job but not replace them in any way."
  • Research findings and recommendations for Councils – Some fantastic shared learning here from Michele.
  • sigil – "Sigil is a multi-platform WYSIWYG ebook editor. It is designed to edit books in ePub format."
  • Enterprise 2.0 Perceived Risks: Myth or Reality? – "…security is a personal thing, a personal trait that everyone needs to nurture and treasure accordingly."
  • Using Free, Open-Source Software in Local Governments – "…how is it that local governments have failed to capitalize on the cost-saving and productivity-enhancing benefits of using open source software, especially given the budget crises they face?"
  • Open Government Data – "This event will bring together movers and shakers from the world of open government data — including government representatives, policymakers, lawyers, technologists, academics, advocates, citizens, journalists and reusers."
  • WordPress › Email Users « WordPress Plugins – "A plugin for wordpress which allows you to send an email to the registered blog users."

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.

Jakob Neilson on intranets

Jakob Neilson has some good stuff in his yearly roundup of intranet trends:

Intranet design is maturing and reaping the rewards of continuous quality improvement for traditional features, while embracing new trends like mobile access, emergency preparedness, and user/employee-contributed content.

Ideas of enterprise 2.0 are leaking into intranet design, and quite right too.

As per this post, I’m focusing a lot of my attention this year on what goes on within organisations. I dare say that few councils and other government organisations have interactive – and mobile – intranets as discussed by Nielson.

I want to explore what technology people are using and what the barriers are to adoption – and then think about what the solutions might look like.

I’m on the lookout for stories about collaboration and innovation in this space within public services – like the stuff Carl Haggerty is up to in Devon. If you have any examples, drop me a line, or leave a comment.

Working better together

Working better togetherAn awful lot of the posts I write here on DavePress are focused on external communication and collaboration – how organisations can engage and consult better with other people using the web.

But there is massive potential in using social web technology internally as well, though it isn’t something I talk about an awful lot. A project I am working on at the moment with a government organisation, though, is all about how making internal systems, like intranets, a lot more social.

Why might this help? Well, having a social approach to internal systems will make a significant positive difference to the way knowledge and information is managed throughout your organisation.

Just think – if you find something interesting on the web, how do you share it with colleagues? For the vast majority of people, that will mean emailing it round to those you think might also find it useful. There are obvious problems with this:

  • What about the people you don’t know who might find it useful?
  • What happens when someone has a use for that link six months down the line? Will they be able to find it?
  • What about other, related information that others find? How can it be drawn together?

So, even by just taking the simple example of sharing a weblink with colleagues, we can see that not having social software available can reduce the effectiveness of the use of knowledge and information within an organisation.

There are lots of other examples, though, including:

  • Communicating between teams – how does one team know what the other does? Having a static page describing general activities doesn’t really help.
  • Collaborating across teams and departments – if you aren’t sat near the people you are working with, it’s hard to work together effectively without using social tools
  • Finding people you need – ‘yellow pages’ style people finders suck. How do you find people based on their skills, abilities and talents, not by their job description? How can you locate colleagues who are interested in something?
  • Group editing of documents – how many times have you emailed a document round for review, then faced the unenviable task of updating it in line with everyone’s edits? It’s a nightmare and a better form of collaborative authoring is needed.
  • Sharing personal learning, and making it social – I’ve written a fair bit about social learning spaces here. Most organisations now encourage employees to have personal development plans and to seek out the learning they need to to do their jobs better. What happens to the learning from a course though after someone has attended it? It stays in the head of the individual.
  • Creating a sense of community in an organisation – while face to face events are vital, what could be done online to foster a common sense of purpose and culture?

It seems pretty obvious to me that just as external facing websites should no longer be seen as a medium for pushing content out to an audience, the same is also true of intranets. Actually, it’s probably even more important to ensure that internal systems are as social as possible.

There are a number of ways in which social software can work for better internal communication and collaboration, and a number of different routes to take.

I’ll be looking at some of these over a few posts this week, all categorised together as Working Better Together. I hope they are useful and do please contribute via the comments, especially with examples of good stuff already happening!