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Monday, 2 July 2018

Hiya! Apologies that this is a little later than normal. I have been suffering from technical issues.

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!

Digital? What's that again?

Just what, exactly, is 'digital'? This is a conversation that seems to go round and around, with very little consensus. I'm reminded of the discussion by Euan Semple's post about it today, where he refers to the "pressure to change that organisations are experiencing due to the fact that their customers and staff are finding their voice." Link.

Perhaps the seminal description, certainly for government, is Tom Loosemore's tweet, in which he states that digital is "Applying the culture, practices, processes & technologies of the Internet-era to respond to people’s raised expectations". Link

Whatever definition you might end up with, what is important to remember in practice is that how your definition is acted upon will differ depending on the service you are transforming. This is one of the things which seems to trip up so many organisations - trying to bend the same approach to different services, no matter how little they may have in common with each other. I'm often nervous about whole organisation transformation methodologies for this reason - how can waste management use the same operating model as social care?

To be able to apply a definition of digital across different services in an adaptable way that recognises at the same time the differences between service operating models and the commonalities of applying digital age culture, practices, processes and technologies (to pinch Loosemore's words) requires everyone working on it to really have a deep understanding of it. It means having the confidence to identify what sort of tools, techniques and approaches might work with a certain service, and give them a go. It means being able to focus relentlessly on the outcome needed by the end user and not to automatically reach for something that seemed to work last time.

If there's a theme emerging to these short missives at the top of my emails, it seems to be: it's complicated. There aren't any shortcuts around understanding your users and your operating models, and while having a pithy definition of digital helps, it ain't no panacea. 


  • Interesting write up of a meeting of digital teams from governments around the world. Link.
  • Potentially fruity webinar coming up this week on whether or not the Government Digital Service has been a success. Link
  • Alison McKenzie-Folan, Deputy Chief Executive at Wigan Council describes how the council of the future can be here now. Link

Tools and techniques

  • Teams that blog and why it's a good idea to do so. Link
  • Revenge of the P[roject]M[anagement]O[ffice] - why big orgs struggle to do agile. Link
  • How agile procurement can aid digital transformation. Link


  • Dave Rogers writes a terrifically accessible lowdown on the impact of legacy technology and how it impacts on organisations. Fantastic stuff. Link
  • Why you should not use Google Cloud (Platform) - unless you like having your applications switched off arbitrarily. Slightly scary stuff. Link
  • In a post on the power of enterprise people networks, Livio Hughes from PostShift outlines the need to "identify and develop an offline network of highly engaged, energetic, digitally-savvy people to help drive adoption, transfer skills, and spread good practices" to make the internal online social networks a success. Link.


  • One Team Government Global unconference. Link.
  • The latest on the MHCLG roadshows for digital local government. Link.
  • The Public Sector Digital Transformation Forum are running their final Digital Innovation in Local Gov event in Wales - it's free for public sector attendees. Link.


  • Local Collaboration Support Officer, MHCLG. Link
  • Bit vague this, but there's an interim web manager job going somewhere in the Hertfordshire/Bedfordshire region. If that sounds good, contact @antlerboy on them there Twitters.
  • Digital Service Transformation Lead, Parkinson's UK. 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.

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
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