Today was a good day. The first 9 people began their training on Matssoft, the low code platform we have selected to enable us to rapidly design and build digital services. It was so fantastic to see not just folk from our new Digital & Design team but also folk from service areas learning how to design and build applications. I kept thinking about how virally the news will spread across the business about the value of our new internet-based technologies. About all the meetings where people will start to say “you could create a Google community to help with that” or “we could build a Mats process to handle that”. Today was great!
Tomorrow will be good too. Dave Briggs starts as our Head of Digital & Design.
Our day starts by reviewing our newly architected platform (a nicely interoperable combo of Saleforce and Matssoft) with the first products on it, namely contact centre and “green bins”. I’m always checking back on decisions and priorities in my mind and I still think we’ve done a great job of focussing on the technology foundations, working with Methods Digital, so that we are able to make rapid progress as we create the Digital & Design team, with users at the centre of everything we do.
I can’t wait for the next phase as we develop a user-centred design methodology utilising all the great stuff from GDS, Open Policy Lab, Design Council and all the brilliant agencies in that space like IDEO, Engine, Futuregov and so on. We are going to build the capabilities needed to radically re-design services, end-to-end by working directly with users. We are going to develop a service that encourages incumbent service models to be disrupted, and for innovation to come from the outside in as much as possible. We’re not just going to “improve” our existing services, although that will be very much where we start, as I see this as a 2-3 year process of learning and deep change in our patterns of thinking and doing.
We still have a few more foundations to lay over the next three months. We are assessing our wifi this week and intend to install excellent public access in all our buildings. We’re also going to be rolling out smartphones to pretty much everyone and taking most of the desk phones away. By June, new enterprise telephony will be accessed from within Google in the browser, and through an app on either corporate or personal mobiles. We have a BYOD policy already in place.
Even though this is a lot of stuff, I’ve learned that people respond brilliantly when the value is so clear. When the technology is so reliable and easy to use, the project risks are much lower than people fear.
One of my guiding principles is that digital & design is for everyone, and must be BY everyone. I’m proud to have kept that in mind as we implement government as a platform at Adur and Worthing, ensuring that we are introducing new technology to all staff rather than only worrying about the longer term citizen platform stuff.
I’m delighted that as a group of people we have ‘gone for it’ at this pace, working on infrastructure, devices, data and software all together. Now for people capabilities .. design thinking and culture change.
As Martha Lane Fox said last night about digital in the UK: “We’re going too slow, being too incremental. We need to be bolder.” We’re being bold in Adur & Worthing. I encourage YOU to be bold, or move to somewhere that will let you be!
This has been urgent for some time – see my earlier post on the need for radical redesign. Changing out your technology in a radical way is, I believe, an essential starting point.