Does this email look janky? If so, view it in your browser

Monday, 24th September 2018

Hi all. Lots of good stuff in this week's newsletter - had to leave some bits out so as not to overload you! Hope you have a lovely, productive week.

Remember - if you enjoy this newsletter, others might too! Please forward it on to anybody you think might like it, or encourage folk to sign themselves up! Got something I ought to include? Mail me!

Somewhere only we knew

So, LocalGovCamp happened this weekend, and it was a lot of fun. It's been ten years since the first was run, and perhaps it's useful to think about that decade and how things have progressed in that time.

The first thing to note is that the event in 2018 was very different to that of 2008. Back then, the event was just one day, held on a Saturday in Birmingham at the Fazeley Studios. The whole agenda was organised on the day, unconference style, and there was a DJ. This year, most of the action took place on the Friday, with people taking time out of work, attending pre-organised sessions, many of which were facilitated by event sponsors.

You might expect me now to get a bit sniffy about this - this wasn't the event I created! But actually I'm not - LocalGovCamp has evolved to meet the needs of the community of people it serves.

Back in 2008, nobody had 'digital' in their job titles. Nobody talked of transformation. In no sense, really, were the topics under discussion the focus of people's professional interests. At best they were bits we could do on the quiet, when nobody was looking. Things have changed significantly since then.

What people are looking for now are real, practical examples of what can work in the fields of digital, service design and change. Because of the structure of technology delivery in most councils, which is heavily reliant on suppliers and external support, this means you have to have to involvement of those suppliers in supporting this activity. It was very different to the way things were done 10 years ago, but that's fine. The 2008 approach wouldn't work now, I don't think.

I've certainly changed a bit over that time (no matter what Shane says). Back then I was a freelancer, spending most of my time trying to persuade councils to make use of social media, and showing them how. I don't do that anymore, others do it far better - though it's remarkable that these arguments are still having to be made, a decade later. 

2008 was of course the year of the economic collapse that was the driver behind austerity, which has hit local government so hard, and in many ways pushed the digital agenda forward (out of a desperate necessity). There was no sense at that time of what was to come - perhaps if we did, we'd have been a little more serious about things. Maybe not.

These days, I have to be a little (not much) more serious. My days of farting around on the internet endlessly are more or less over - my social media world turned into a web publishing one, which turned into an IT and digital one. Oh, and 'management'. It's a journey that LocalGovCamp has been on itself, I think, and so it and I are linked in that way. 

Building this community has been one of the most rewarding, and at times frustrating, things I've been involved in. That despite stepping back in the last few years, I remained somehow connected to it is something that really hit me during the weekend - as well as that bedside table.



  • MHCLG have opened up a fund to help local gov do interesting things with digital. Link.
  • Interesting thoughts from Postshift on how having a dedicated Chief Digital Officer type role can silo transformation efforts, and why a more distributed leadership model is helpful. Am inclined to think that if you're a half decent CDO, you'd work that way by default. Link
  • Ben Holliday reckons 'there is no digital service design' (he's right) and hammers the point home: "There are no digital services. There are only digital parts of services". Link
  • Following those tweets what I shared last week, Tom Loosemore blogs in a bit more depth about why he regrets assisted digital. Link.

Tools and techniques

  • A nice post from Chris Anderson from the digital team at Stockport Council on the role of the business analyst. Link.
  • The Essex service design team on setting up user panels. Link.
  • What does a product manager working at Google do all day? Now we know. Link.
  • Matt Edgar writes up a session at HealthCamp, where he asked what is needed in a digital health service to enable people to trust it. Mostly relevant to any service. Link.


  • Dom Campbell on how rolling out nice, helpful tools such as Google Docs and Slack can make change affect everyone, rather than being something that doesn't concern some people. Link.
  • Why barely a third of outsourcing deals are now safe: "Judgement day is now upon the industry once known as outsourcing and this one will get pretty ugly before it eventually finds a new groove, where enterprises and service providers find real value in each other again." Link.
  • Helpful Digital have a nice dashboard tracking online content about digital government. Link.


  • Local Government as a Platform Yorkshire & Humber, Leeds, 18th October. Link
  • Local Government as a Platform South West, Exeter, 22nd November. Link.
  • Another plug for Stakecamp, an unconference "for people interested in how organisations consult and engage their stakeholders in order to make better decisions". London, 10th November. Link.


  • Some great jobs going at Citizens Advice:
    • Head of Citizens Advice Lab - Link.
    • Head of Product - Link.
    • Head of Delivery - Link.
If you're on the lookout for a new public service digital job, then you'd do a lot worse than signing up for Matt Jukes' entirely job-focused newsletter.

Niche survey of the week

The smashing Dave McKenna is working on "some research on how different seating arrangements can affect the public meetings of local councils in the UK". He is asking folk to complete a survey on the topic - if you work for a council (or know somebody that does), would you mind passing this on for them to complete? Ta. Link.

That's it for this week. Thanks for reading and please feel free to forward this onto friends and colleagues - and maybe even encourage them to sign up!

If you have any feedback, or an idea for something to be included, please just hit reply and send me an email.

Until next time,

~ Dave
Copyright © 2018 Digital Digest, All rights reserved.

Want to change how you receive these emails?
You can update your preferences or unsubscribe from this list.

Email Marketing Powered by Mailchimp