Wednesday, 14th November 2018
Hello there! Sorry for missing last week. I have had a crazy amount going on lately, culminating in moving flat this weekend (predictably exhausting) and some career news, which I talk about below. Needlessly to say, several weights have been lifted from my shoulders.
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Joining Croydon Council
As of January, I will be starting a new, permanent role in local government. I've been appointed Head of ICT at Croydon Council - although the exact job title might change before I start.
I'm super excited, for a number of reasons. Personal stuff first - I've been wanting a permanent role with stability, regular income and paid holidays for a while now. After a bumpy few years in my personal life, things are settling down and it'll be nice to be able to do that at work too. Also, Croydon is a perfectly reasonable commute from home, and that'll make a big difference compared to the journeys to work I have been doing recently.
There's more though, and it comes back to that permanent role. When I left Adur & Worthing to return to contracting, I wondered whether I was just temperamentally more suited to short term gigs. My frustration in the last few years though, despite having he pleasure of some truly awesome assignments, has been the lack of being able to see things through. I'm really looking forward to being in for the long haul at Croydon.
The other big attraction was the Council itself. First of all, as you may have seen, they appointed Neil Williams, previously grande fromage of the GOV.UK website at GDS as Chief Digital Officer. That rightly made waves - I've known of Neil and his work for over 10 years and his ability to execute great work within the confines of government is not to be sniffed at. Neil's arrival also hinted at ambitions at the Council to really do digital properly, and I wanted to be a part of that.
Croydon also comes with scale - the largest of the London Boroughs in terms of population - and the Council is a big organisation. That brings challenges but also really exciting opportunities, to build a team with the necessary capability to achieve genuine system wide change in a local area.
And on top of all that, now seems to be a great time for doing this. The Local Digital Declaration, the fund, the growth of the LocalGovDigital network, the enduring popularity of LocalGovCamp - these things make local government a genuinely exciting place to be right now. I've been incredibly fortunate to have played a part in a few of these things already. Now's the time to push on, both for Croydon as a single council and place, and for the sector as a whole.
When I mentioned the news on Twitter, the reaction was was lovely, and funny, and once again made me glad to be a member of this tribe. Link.
- If you read nothing else from this newsletter, please read this from Nesta's Eddie Copeland. It's a distillation of thinking around future operating models for local authorities (although is relevant for any sector). When you're trying to have the argument with people that 'digital' is about more than just web forms and process automation, this is your source of examples and possibilities. Get this is front of everyone you can in your organisation, but particularly those at the top table. Link.
- A nice story about the US government's digital service. Link.
- GDS on the development of an 'innovation strategy for government". Link.
- The story of an Amazon executive who went to transform Italy's government. Link. There's also a report covering what his team did and what lessons were learned. Link.
Tools and techniques
- Hackey's digital team report on their use of an 'empathy lab' to raise awareness of how technology can improve life for those with impairments. Link.
- Ever wondered why so many efforts at digital transformation fail? According to this piece, it's because of a technology focus, they don't involve people properly and lack senior management buy in and strategic focus. Sounds about right. Link.
- A great read from Will Middleton on why user research is a team sport. Love this: "I slowly realised that change in organisations comes from change within other people’s minds. Not my own. Most people only change their mind when they experience things themselves. People don’t respond well to being told what to do". Link.
- I enjoyed this video of a Q&A with WordPress overlord Matt Mullenweg talking about the future of the project. Link.
- An interesting takedown of Medium as a place to write and read stuff. Link.
- Michael Coté on the role of enterprise architects in a digital world of DevOps and microservices. 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.
- ICT & Digital Service Manager, Adur & Worthing Councils. Link.
- Service Design Manager, Devon County Council. 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,