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Coalition of the willing

If I had a penny for every time I heard the phrase "coalition of the willing" today I'd have about seven pence.

Seriously though, I attended three really good discussions in London today broadly around councils sharing knowledge, innovation and work on digital, where the phase came up a few times, which got me thinking.

There are already coalitions of the willing in LocalGov Digital, the LGA, iStandUK, SOLACE, techUK's Local Public Services Committee, the Public Service Transformation Academythe iNetwork, and more. In fact there's a coalition of coalitions of the willing in the Local Digital Coalition. Yes, I agree a coalition of the willing is a good thing but perhaps we shouldn't create more disparate groups with the intention of enabling joined up working across local government.

The other thing that sprang to mind is, for every coalition of the willing working together there's a disunion of the unable and unwilling. For every small group of councils…
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Learning about learning and development

Next week I'm attending an unconference for learning and development (L&D), and organisational development (OD) practitioners. I'm familiar with the unconference format as I've been part of the team who organise LocalGovCamp for the past few years, but both L&D and OD are well out of my comfort zone.

So why am I going?

I've been involved with digital and service transformation for a while now and I've come to realise it's about more than tech. Sure it is you're probably thinking, real digital transformation is about the re-design of function and process around the capabilities the internet and technology provide, and that's true, but it's also about people.

The main driver for digital transformation is often cost reduction, and one way to cut cost is to reduce headcount. Some service re-designs remove the human element completely and create a fully end-to-end digital service, but lots of services councils provide or commission still need peo…

The psychology of rejection

You're planning your wedding and it's time to send out the invites. You decide you'll email everyone asking them to save the date, and send the invites in the post later. Within seconds of sending your emails you receive a polite and carefully worded reply from one of your invitees explaining they can't attend. It's like they didn't even think about it, they just flat out rejected you there and then.

How would that make you feel?

We've been thinking about this. Thinking about the psychology of rejection and how this relates to services we're redesigning. Digital is efficient, it's fast and cheap, but it can also be cold and uncompromising. Sometimes the steely hard edges of "computer says no" need padding.

With this in mind we're redesigning one of our services so that applications that don't meet the lowest threshold of the acceptance criteria are automatically rejected. Not only does this reduce staff workload, it means that we …

Why you don't need a digital strategy

Are you writing a digital strategy for a council? Stop it right now!

Most digital strategies I've seen focus on enabling customers to do things online, I've even seen councils claim they'll be delivering 100% of services online this year. Your strategy needs to be about more than just online.

Many strategies are created as a plan to deliver savings, with success measured in redundancies.  It's important to understand how digital technology can enable organisations do more and bring in additional revenue.

Some strategies talk about digital being a mindset. It's not. The problem is that the term "digital" has been conflated with "the internet" and most importantly service design.

Think about technology, think about the people that the technology supports, think about the service the people and technology support, and above all think about the user (and statutory) needs the service meets.

Organisations will always need specialists. Think about how …

Transforming collaboration across Local Government

Last year, when we were putting the Local Government Digital Service Standard (LGDSS) together Matthew Cain had a good idea. In truth he had lots of good ideas, but this post is about one of them and how we might progress it.

The LGDSS suggests an approach for councils to build good, value for money digital services people want to use. As councils start to adopt it there's an emerging view of what "good looks like" across the sector.

Councils provide different combinations of hundreds of services, but many of them are broadly similar across local government. Now we have the LGDSS and there's an agreed set of principles for transformation and delivery it's a become lot easier for councils to work together.

There'll always be a place for informal discussion, through initiatives like Unmentoring, events like LocalGovCamp, channels like Slack, or just picking up the phone and talking to someone.

As service transformation projects become mainstream across local go…

LocalGov Digital rebooted

LocalGov Digital has come a long way in four years. From an idea at LocalGovCamp, to a meeting of council officers at the Local Government Association, to an established group to seeking to improve council web provision, to a network of people creating better, cheaper, local public services, it's been quite a journey.

With next to nothing LocalGov Digital has led the creation of innovations that far better funded organisations have come nowhere near. LocalGov Digital created the Local Government Digital Service Standard (LGDSS) with the help of the Government Digital Service which is being adopted by a growing number of councils. Unmentoring is joining up people across the country and Pipeline is helping councils collaborate and that's just three of many.

But more needs to be done, and faster.

You can only get so far on good will and limited capital through sponsorship, so we're proposing LocalGov Digital becomes a community co-operative that everyone with an interest in t…

Listening outside of the echo chamber

I've been listening to people outside of my echo chamber and I don't like what I hear.

Wikipedia defines an echo chamber as
A metaphorical description of a situation in which information, ideas, or beliefs are amplified or reinforced by transmission and repetition inside an "enclosed" system, where different or competing views are censored, disallowed, or otherwise underrepresented. The people I follow and engage with from @philrumens are by and large those that I respect. The people I'm friends with on Facebook I have some real-world connection with. The people I'm connected with through LinkedIn I have some sort of professional link to. I operate in a social media echo chamber.

So I thought I'd start another Twitter account. I thought I'd follow and interact with people I didn't agree with. I thought I'd be prepared for differing opinions. What I found was an undercurrent of hate and intolerance I'd never encountered before.

Initially it&…