If your aim is to build a company that leverages technology to disrupt and dismantle some archaic experience but you don’t have those skills, then there are 3 things to keep in mind
… we want there to be Local Digital Skills Partnerships all over the country.
While you wonder where on earth the sun has gone (and I don't mean from the accurate depiction of the solar system above) here are some interesting things to read.
- There are many tech roles going at Guildford Borough Council – take a look and best of luck if you go for one. If you're on the lookout for a job, don't forget Jukesie's email list.
- Eleven exercises for more efficient, productive, and creative meetings – a few years ago my son asked me what I did at work. I wittered on a bit about digital, strategy and running a service; but he interrupted me and asked what I actually physically did. I had to answer that I read and wrote emails, and that I went to meetings. The second thing would be much improved if I started making use of some of the ideas in this article.
- Businesses are using 'digital transformation' purely for marketing purposes, says Co-Op CDO Mike Bracken – there's a nice summary in here on why transformation isn't about merely digitising existing processes but taking a harder look at operating models and culture. Bracken identifies three barriers – first that changing culture is really hard, second that leadership views digital just as better IT, and third (as it says in the headline) that some organisations just use the D word for meaningless marketing.
- GDS wants IT suppliers to use its GaaP products – but won’t offer service guarantees – interesting take on the Governmant as a Platform programme at GDS and hints at some of the difficulties involved in creating new capabilities rather than consuming them from the market. Supporting products is really hard, particularly in the 'enterprise' environment where expectations are high.
- The GDS Academy is here – a more positive GDS story. The DWP digital academy has been given a makeover and now is the GDS Academy. Having a consistent way of delivering good quality learning to folk on the important bits of what digital is all about is one of the missing pieces of the jigsaw for many organisations and this is one of the few attempts to get it done at scale.
Another Friday, another fistful of linkitude.
- Digital Workplace Leader – a fun looking job going at Thanet District Council. “The digital workplace leader will be an experienced professional who leads the effort to create a work environment that exploits digital trends and encourages digital dexterity through the adroit use of technology. The goal is to improve employee agility and engagement so that Thanet District Council can profit from changing business models and improved workforce effectiveness in order to achieve its organisational goals.” If you get it, good luck in getting all that done in the year the job lasts for (!).
- ‘I don’t know how to use a computer!’: the stories of our most dangerous public servants – this story from Leah Lockhart got a lot of Twitter attention and rightly so. Hard not to laugh at this stuff at times, but of course it is in fact a complete disgrace. Wearing your ignorance as a badge of honour is never cool.
- Publishers and the pursuit of the past – there’s nowt so tedious than the future of journalism discussion, but Ben Thompson at least brings in some strategic thinking about business models and incentives that’s worth digging into.
- A networked organisation – Cassie Robinson is on fire at the moment – I feel like she should be given her own slot here every week. Here she articulates what it means to be a networked organisation – and how that differs from the activity ‘networking’.
- Building a digital culture in DWP – another nice list of things that digital cultures look and feel like, this time by Jon Osborn. I do like “less process, more progress” and might start saying it on regular occasions, irregardless of context.
Another week in which technology seems the least important thing in the world. Still, I’ve got nothing else to give, so here goes.
- Join the DH digital communities and channels team – two great jobs going on a great team at the Department of Health.
- Slack is raising another $500 million — and has attracted interest from a range of big buyers like Amazon – Slack is a really interesting tool. I swing wildly from thinking it’s not really that signficiant to considering it the harbinger of a new way of doing technology within organisations. As ever the truth is somewhere in the middle. The idea of Amazon buying it does not make a huge amount of sense to me. Amazon have inroads into big enterprise IT through their web services division of course, leading the way in the infrastructure as a service bit of cloud. They don’t have much (any?) of a footprint in software as a service – tools that actual users actually use. Do they want to get into that space? I’ve no idea but surely Google would be a better fit for Slack, and it would help out with the moribund and confusing state of the G Suite’s communications tools (Hangouts seems to have stagnated for years now).
- Survey points to digital skills gap in civil service and Public sector struggling with cloud due to skills shortage – to both of which my response is “yes, and?”. Seems to me that we see a lot of reporting of the problem with digital skills/confidence/mindset but very few examples or ideas around how to tackle it. If you’ve ideas to share, then please do so in the Digital Skills in the Workplace group on LinkedIn.
- History by lawsuit: After Gawker’s demise, the “inventor of e-mail” targets Techdirt – fascinating mixture of computer history combined with out and out oddness. The man who wrote a program called EMAIL claims this means he invested the generic tool e-mail.
- Minimum Viable Architecture – good enough is good enough in an enterprise – nice bit of myth-busting around the supposedly special requirements of IT in a larger organisation. The word ‘enterprise’ is used to justify all sorts of crap: higher prices, costly maintenance agreements, hard to use and complicated tools. The fact is that the only difference is one of time – bigger organisations have existed longer than most small ones and thus have built up baggage around infrastructure and process. Achieving change in such organisations means trying to reduce that cruft… as James notes in his post “If enterprises are going to drive a successful digital transformation, and develop a culture that supports agile development and devops, then they need less architecture, not more of it.”
Five more nourishing morsels I’ve spotted this week:
- LocalGovCamp is back this September in Bristol. Find out more and sign up for the ticket lottery here.
- The Disappearing Computer – Walt Mossberg’s last column is a great read on the future of computing
- Put employee experience at the heart of the digital workplace – interesting presentation on deploying communication and collaboration technology in your workplace
- Digital skills in the workplace – I’ve decided to give this rather dormant LinkedIn group a kick to see if there’s any life in it. If you’re interested in digital skills and confidence at your organisation, do jump in.
- I’ve been thoroughly enjoying HBO’s Silicon Valley recently. If you have Sky Atlantic, you can binge on it. Here’s the first season trailer to whet your appetite:
Am going to try and get a quick link roundup post out every Friday if I can, pointing out some interesting stuff I’ve seen during the week.
- Management is not about asking people to do stuff – really interesting article on being a better manager. Something that’s really been brought home to me in the last few years is that being successful in stuff like digital transformation or modernising IT relies on your ability to manage well as much as being some kind of epic visionary.
- Enterprise-wide Agility: Doing versus Being – I love the “doing versus being” idea and want to explore it more in a future post here.
- Council frontline staff lack digital skills competence – not just frontline staff I’d say and a lack of basic understanding of the role of technology and digital operating models is holding back transformation work in lots of organisations, no matter what the sector. I’m tempted to dust down my digital passport work of yesteryear to see if it could be refreshed to help fill this gap.
- Head of Technology Services – I’m moving on from my interim job at Horsham soon, and this is the advert for my permanent replacement. It’s a great job.
- Mark Thompson on platforms and government:
The Government Digital Service has released a big list defining the skills needed for transformation.
It’s certainly comprehensive. It’s fair to say that it is more a list of skills that people need rather than the details of what goes into those skills, or how you start to equip a team with them.
However, for anyone putting together a team to tackle digital transformation, it’s a great guide for what people you’ll need on board.
I found LocalGovCamp a really refreshing and cheering event this year. I’m going to spend a few quick posts writing up my thoughts.
There’s a kitbag of tools and approaches that can be used to tackle the problems facing us. Not everyone knows about them and this needs fixing.
I’m not necessarily talking about digital tools either – although there are some of those of course.
It’s more than that – it’s some of the emerging practices and processes, and mindset too. They don’t even cost money, most of these things.
Take the example from Carl Haggerty. At Devon they have a meeting room, decked out with fairly random, non-officey furniture, that can’t be booked out. It’s a room for the curious and the collaborative. You can have meetings in there, but be warned that anyone might turn up and join in. Or you could take your laptop in and get on with your day to day work, only sitting next to people who you don’t normally get to meet.
Like organisations acting responsively to their users. Being agile in the way services and products are delivered. Iterating in response to feedback. Co-designing to improve the way things work.
It’s also about a plurality of tools and systems to be used to help fix problems. I know this is a recurring theme of mine at the moment, but one size fits all solutions are dead.
People and organisations have to be flexible enough to be able to deliver different services in different ways to different groups depending on their needs.
This mindset, these tools and practices need to be rolled out to people in ways that will really help them bring about change. I don’t think training courses or online tooklits will cut it, somehow. We need something new.
I published a post today on the Department of Health’s Digital Health blog about the work I am doing there building digital capability across the organisation
Here’s a quick snippet:
To my mind there needs to be a three pronged approach to developing an organisation to help it become truly digitally enabled. Those prongs are:
- Strategy – an approach to digital technology and culture that demonstrates a thorough understanding of the opportunities and the risks
- Leadership – encouragement and permission from the top of the organisation that digital tools are important and that appropriate access and learning opportunities are provided
- Capability – confidence, comfort and skills throughout the organisation so that staff can make the most of the opportunities and avoid those pesky risks
The department has a digital strategy in place, and a digital leadership coaching programme is currently ongoing. I’ll leave it to others to blog about those. My job is developing our network of digital champions, who are a key part of our means of developing capability throughout DH.
So who are these champions, and what do they actually do – and why are they doing it?
The champions are enthusiasts for working digitally. This doesn’t mean they have to be experts in any particular technology, rather that they embody the digital mindset of curiosity, creativity and cooperation. In other words, they don’t need to know all the answers, but they do need to have an idea of how to find them.
WorkSmart’s digital strategy workshop will help you make this sort of thing happen in your organisation.