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Tuesday, 17 July 2018

Late again, sorry folks. Hope you don't mind...

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 horses for digital courses

As I have discussed in previous missives, digital means a lot of things to lots of people and sometimes it's worth carrying different definitions around it your head at the same time. By this I mean that while many of us probably have a 'gold standard' of what digital transformation should be, reality doesn't always match it, and often it simply can't because of circumstances.

I tend to (rather crudely) break down what digital transformation could mean into three broad categories:

  1. Digital access – taking a paper or telephone based process and whacking it online with an e-form (quick to do, few benefits except a bit of convenience for web savvy users)
  2. Digital efficiency – taking that process and digitising it end to end, involving the replacement or integration with back office systems, removing unnecessary admin touch points an so on (takes longer, more difficult, but yields better results)
  3. Digital transformation – taking an entire service and rethinking it from the ground up, knowing what we know about networks and connectivity (really hard, but could ensure the relevance of that service for the next 20 years).

Now, to my mind - and I hope several of yours too - the latter approach is far preferable. But in reality, it is rare and the best we can get to is the efficiency layer. On occasion though, because of timescales, budgets, political pressure, and a variety of other reasons, simple digital access might be  the right way to go - particularly if you can come back and revisit it later to do something more transformational.

Also, tactically speaking, sometimes doing a really good job on a digital access project can help develop some trust which may help in the future if you want to persuade someone to be more ambitious.

Being pragmatic about how to approach projects depending on organisational context and digital maturity is key - which will undoubtedly involve being flexible about how you define what digitising a service might look like.


  • Simon Parker writes thoughtfully about policy making, and how it differs between central and local government. Link
  • I've written before that my view on in/outsourcing of IT needs a nuanced approach rather than a sledgehammer. Looks like Socitm agrees, sort of. Link
  • Paul Taylor writes interestingly on what digital transofrmation isn't (and therefore what it is, too). Link

Tools and techniques

  • An interesting webinar recording about the digital mindset needed for transformation. Link
  • Another video, this one featuring a discussion about the need for flexibility, agility and collaboration in local gov. Link


  • I love stories of complicated, 'legacy' technology being replaced by simple, off the shelf configurable components. This is a good one. Link
  • GDS explains why PDFs are are Bad Thing, and I agree. Link.
  • An eccentric but fun view on how blogging ruined the joy of personal homepages. Link
  • Last week I linked to a piece about Microsoft's more-than-a-Slack-clone Slack clone Teams. It's just been announced that you can use it for free, even without an Office 365 subscription. Link.


  • Mapcamp looks like a great chance to learn and talk about Wardley mapping, a key digital transformation technique. Link.  


  • Digital services Manager, Essex county Council. Link
  • Digital Content Editor, Lewes District and Eastbourne Borough Councils. 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.

Slightly random internet subculture related link of the week

  • A genuinely fascinating insight into the world of Kindle romantic fiction publishing. 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
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