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Digital Strategy, Marketing & Culture

We are moving the cheese

I was delighted to speak about our learnings so far building something from nothing through empowerment, agile and responsive methods, whilst on our journey towards better public services.

With information spread across 160+ organisations, 480+ websites and over 6 million content items - the scale is staggering.

With 6 million content items, we actually have more content items than people

Think about putting yourself in the shoes of a user. What does this landscape looks like to traverse? It will likely start at Google and get muddy from there on.

Our work towards a central point of access is shaped upon user research and performance analysis, but it hasn’t all been smooth sailing.

So, what are our learnings so far?

  • Understand the benefit of multigenerational organisations, explore tensions and build bridges
  • Adapt and tailor principles that are a good fit for your team and environment
  • Get together regularly - in person. It will increase visibility, reduce tensions, create connections and deliver better solutions
  • Empowerment ≠ direction. Remove blockers, empower teams to make decisions and be clear on the direction of travel
  • Mind the HiPPO (Highest Paid Person’s Opinion) - it might just be you
  • It’s amazing how much free feedback you get online, from very clever people. Increase transparency and overcome your fear of criticism

I was keen to make the point that we truely are on the brink of something special in the public sector. We have the opportunity to transform our enviroments and the way deliver services.

In regards to the books I mentioned:

The slides are available on Speakerdeck - 'We are moving the cheese'.

Five highlights from chatting about culture and collaboration at ResponsiveOrg London

I put together some 'blog' thoughts recently about ResponsiveOrg, it’s purpose and the manifesto that underpins the movement.

The idea is that something isn’t quite right about the operating system of our organisations. There is a real opportunity to move towards clearer purpose and better collaboration.

I decided to pop along to learn more and chat with the community at Responsiveorg London. So, here are my five highlights.

1) The justification for change is clear (and visually appealing!)

As Matthew Partovi welcomed everyone, attendees were lucky enough to have sketch notes on tap visualising why this movement matters.

Great way to show a clear message and vision from #responsiveorg pic.twitter.com/aEGBQBTfMm @PinipaApp, April 27, 2015

2) Focus your efforts on the yellow dots

Engaging people who show no interest in discussing change can be tough. A controversial suggestion is to focus on the people who can be influenced, not the people who can’t.

  • Green dots are people in your network who are energised and engaged
  • Yellow dots are influenable
  • Red dots are blockers

If you focus your time and effort on people who are considered to be the yellow dots in your network - the hope is that they engage with red dots further down the line.

3) Transparency can be transformational

During the event there was a share by @karlwilding, from NCVO, about the opportunity for openness and transparency into board meetings.

There is a great quote tucked away in there:

“transparency can be transformational”

4) Encourage people to get together

I loved the idea of the instant camera photos and the opportunity for people to tell others their interests. It’s great for finding people who want to talk about similar things.

Food after the workshops; before the unconference - big discussions on what we'vve learned! pic.twitter.com/tC3FpKGmtB David Terrar (@DT) April 27, 2015

5) Don't forgot individuals Spoilt for choice during the workshops, I opted for a more individual focused session titled “Responsive You”.

The workshop was based upon Very Clear Ideas by Charles Davies and involved asking a series of questions that would help you begin to explore your purpose in life.

I soon realised my responses were work centric, so when Tom proposed the final question as being our own to ask - I focused on this.

It provided an opportunity for people to think about their purpose, isolated from the opinion of others.

There is another write up that would be worth reading “Why we need the ResponsiveOrg movement by Silvia Cambie

Seeking health information on Google

Unless your settings are a little off and you are currently making use of Google.com, then this change will have passed you by.

When you do a Google search on Google.com for health related queries, you will likely be presented a unique knowledge graph result right there on the page.

Search for breast cancer on Google.com

Giving you information on symptoms, treatments and commonality - it really is everything you would expect from a quick introduction to a condition.

The mobile design sees the information presented above the results, whereas tablet / desktop is on the right.

Where does this come from? Surely it cannot be a pure algorithmic approach to discovering, understanding and presenting information on health back to users?

We use a combination of algorithms and medical professionals to create this medical information. First, our algorithms find and analyze health-related information from high-quality sites across the web. Then, teams of doctors carefully review and refine the information and licensed medical illustrators create the visuals.

Interesting. Depending upon whether you are in the public or private sector, your view on this might differ massively.

Find out more about health results on Google.

Starting a journey towards better collaboration

Changing the way you work is tough, as is changing Government.

We began back in 2013 with an ambitious aim of changing the way Government works, but I gave little regard to the I worked prior to arrival and what this would mean. Coming from a waterfall background and having a passion for all things ‘agile’ - I found adopting a new you isn’t easy. It’s not just what you do, it’s how you do it.

We have been through various efforts to reshape how we deliver and collaborate with each other over the last year. There have been highs and lows but one thing is clear - without passionate, motivated people the possible becomes impossible.

Responsive.org is a community of people with a mission and a passion to do things differently.

Reading their manifesto is a refreshing experience.

“..most organizations still rely on a way of working designed over 100 years ago for the challenges and opportunities of the industrial age”

I chose to put pen to paper in a personal capacity to begin to move towards their manifesto principles. I feel this has the potential to benefit me and the people around me.

Principles

  • People over profit
  • Empowering over controlling
  • Emergence over planning
  • Networks over hierarchies
  • Adaptivity over efficiency
  • Transparency over privacy

Interested? Read the manifesto over on the responsive.org website. Recommended reading includes The Alliance: Managing Talent in the Networked Age (my copy is on the way).

I’ll let you know how it goes.

Putting users at the heart of your digital strategy

I was delighted to be asked by DigitasLBi to talk at "What's next in digital transformation".

Given three busy weeks, I thought about what I could share that might be of value for others. So, I focused on our early process to ensure users are front and centre when producing information about public services.

Putting users at the heart of your digital strategy, essentially a look at our early efforts

This also provided me with a perfect opportunity to listen to some other interesting talks. These talks included emerging digital trends (Digitas LBi), organisational transformation and change (Standard Life), innovation in media (STV) and tips on optimising app store games to increase downloads (Channel 4).

The other talks were:

  • John Monks, Head of Digital Business Design, DigitasLBi
  • Mary Harper, Head of Customer and Digital Marketing, Standard Life
  • David Milne, Head of Digital Publishing, STV
  • Colin Macdonald, Commissioning Editor for Games, Channel 4

There is also a summary of all the talks, including my own, available on the Eden Scott blog and I would suggest it is worth a look