Tag Archives: tools

There are no digital silver bullets

In a fairly complex world, everyone yearns for a simple solution. The one thing they should do to make things better. The single solution to all their problems. Digital transformation is no different, and many of the marketers working in this space know it – that’s why they usually claim that their ‘platforms’ will deliver everything an organisation needs to change itself for the digital age.

Sometime people read a single solution into things when it isn’t there. A good example would be my post the other day talking about the uses of low code platforms. Several people got in touch questioning my assertion that it was the answer to all of local government’s problems. I replied pointing out that it wasn’t my assertion, and low code won’t fix everything. It might help for quite a few things though.

Overall, I am always very nervous of transformation programmes that have a single view of the operating model of an organisation, particularly when we are talking local government, which delivers such a bewildering array of services that it would surely be impossible to have just one way of changing and organising them all. Are there really that many similarities between running a theatre and processing benefits? Or picking up waste and community development?

Instead, part of laying the foundations of an approach to digital transformation should be developing an openness to trying new tools, techniques and technology, and an awareness of all the possibilities that are out there.

On the tools and techniques side, this means having a really good knowledge of ways of doing human centred design, innovation and delivery. Check out IDEO’s resources on this, along with the 100% Open toolkit, and of course the GDS service manual.

For technology, really consider the capabilities needed to deliver the outcome your users and your organisation want to achieve. See if you can match those to what you already have, but don’t shoe-horn them in. Think about the maturity of the capability you need: if it is really cutting edge, you may need to build it yourself (whether in-house or outsourced); for everything else there ought to be something on the market to suit. Whatever you do, don’t get bogged down trying to build silver bullets – a universal case management system for everything, or some kind of middleware utopia that makes everything talk to everything else. You’ll end up tying yourself into knots and running a huge IT programme, which is nobody’s idea of fun.

As I said, by all means re-use capabilities wherever you can. It might be that you do end up using one case management system for everything, because it works. Great! But find your way there by iteratively re-designing your way through services, matching capabilities to outcomes, and not through the implementation of a grand technology project.

So is there an operating model that can be applied to everything an organisation does? Probably not.

Is there a change process that can be applied to every service you deliver? Probably not.

Is there a technology platform that will enable you to replace every other system currently in use? Probably not.

Should you try things out, find some alignment between the outcome you want to achieve and the stuff you use to get there? Probably, yes.

Photo by Jens Lelie on Unsplash

LocalGovCamp 2014 thoughts #5 – tools

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.

Better blogging: separate writing and publishing?

I wonder if one way of helping the process of blogging is to separate the tools you use for writing and for publishing.

Here’s what I mean – when I use WordPress’ editor to compose a post from scratch, I am using the same software to write my content and to publish it.

I have nothing against the WordPress editor, by the way – it’s excellent. But I find that when I use it, I feel under a bit more pressure to get what I am writing finished, so I can hit that big publish button and be done with it.

Using a separate tool to compose the post, then transfer it to WordPress for publication makes the writing process a bit of a calmer affair.

I can still edit my content in the WordPress editor where I spot mistakes, or to add images, links and that sort of thing. The bulk of composition however, takes place in a different editor.

At the moment I mostly use Byword on the Mac and iOS for writing posts, which are then copied to WordPress.

What do you think? Am I talking nonsense – or do you also find that separating writing and publishing is helpful?

Link roundup

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

Link roundup

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

Link roundup

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

Link roundup

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

Link roundup

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

Options for curating online content

Curation is an answer to the problem of information overload. There’s so much stuff online these days – how do you read it all? Or rather, how do you decide what’s worth your attention?

A way for an individual or organisation to build a community or network digitally is to become a trusted curator – in other words, getting popular by sorting the wheat from the chaff on other’s behalf.

There are quite a few tools out there to help you do it. Here’s a few.

1. Social bookmarking

I use Pinboard, but there’s also Delicious and Diigo, amongst others. You see a site or page you like, so you save it to your bookmarks usually using a button on your browser. You describe the link, tag it with keywords, and it joins a public list that others can browse.

I also republish all my bookmarks as occasionally posts here on the blog – I doubt if anyone ever actually looks at my Pinboard page.

2. Storify

Storify is a neat tool for bring content together in a single place around a certain event or topic. So whether it’s photos, videos, tweets, blog posts or whatever, every type of content can be added to a single page, making it potentially the top destination for someone wanting to find out about that topic.

3. Pinterest

A pretty new site this, and still invite-only I think. Pinterest is all about visual stuff, encouraging users to ‘pin’ images and videos they see on the web to their own ‘boards’ or group boards along shared themes.

There’s a big social element to Pinterest too, with users encouraged to ‘repine’ things they’ve seen on others boards to pass them on to their friends, and so on. Bit like retweeting I guess.

4. Paper.li

Paper.li is an automated curating thingy that pulls tweets and stories linked to in tweets together for you, publishing them in a daily ‘newspaper’ of useful content. This is all based on your own followers’ activity, so hopefully all the content ought to be relevant and interesting.

It’s good because it’s automated and you don’t have to do a lot to make it work. It’s bad because it’s automated and you don’t have a huge amount of control over what it publishes.

5. Tumblr

As well as being a blogging tool you can use to publish your own original pearls of wisdom, a lot of people use Tumblr to curate, by ‘reflagging’ stuff they’ve seen elsewhere. Again, Tumblr makes this easy by using a button in your browser. Increasingly popular amongst young people who wouldn’t normally be seen dead doing something as dorky as blogging, Tumblr’s a huge and growing network of people sharing, resharing and reresharing content.

It’s also home to some hilarious themed sites – like Glum Councillors, for example.

That’s it

There’s five from me – any more?

Bookmarks for July 17th through July 23rd

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

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.