What would "data literature" look like?
Data literacy, and the skills we all need to have in our policymaking, businesses and lives, go beyond handling data. We need to know what data is capable of (even if we can’t do those things ourselves). We need to understand the limits of data, the ways it can be used for both good and ill, the implications that has on our lives and society. Understanding these things would help us use data well in government, business and our day to day lives and have more informed debate about how we use data in society.
data  engagement 
june 2017
Russell Davies: The Smell of Bad Software
Software is hard and everyone's trying their best and it's better than doing it with a spreadsheet and it's built into the corporate IT deal so we have to use it, really, but you just want to say CAN NO ONE ELSE SMELL THIS? This is going to drive us INSANE.
workandtools  usability 
june 2017
Rowers, pirates and rocket ships: How do you respond to disruption? | Catherine Howe
Your choice of strategy will depend as much upon your organisational culture and ambition as it does on your response to market forces. Knowing if you are in a boat full of rowers, pirates or rocket builders and recruiting the right team is critical to your success. Knowing if you yourself are a rower, pirate or rocket builder is just as important.
strategy  organisationalchange 
april 2017
Do We Believe In Our Own Customers?
The social sector exists on the basis that people are not to be trusted to manage their own life and wellbeing. By regarding people as passive recipients rather than as active informed customers it has become blighted with a culture of needless bureaucracy, checks and balances. 

The whole sector language of waiting lists, excess demand and channel shift puts the cause of all problems firmly at the feet of the public. How dare they put such demand on services?
customers  servicedesign  trust 
april 2017
From Paper Folders to Digital Streams – Tariq Rashid – Medium
Information Management is trying to bend habits from the paper era to fit today’s digital world — “digitalising paper processes” — that happens a lot, sadly.
knowledgemanagement  workandtools 
april 2017
Busting the hype cycle: 5 questions to ask about any new technology
The more we pretend that technology is a cure-all, the more we promote cynicism that it can offer anything of value when it fails to live up to inflated expectations. Government and the public sector have been burned many times before by ambitious technology projects. Given the urgent need to reform public services to do more and better with less, we can’t afford for them to be put off genuinely good ideas any longer.

Seeking ways to reach the valuable applications of new technologies should therefore be a worthwhile endeavour. Asking five questions about the claims made of any new technology might help.
innovation  hypecycle 
march 2017
Digital Transformation is Failing. Why? | Paul Taylor
The practices of corporate planning, organisational structure, job profiles, performance indicators, and management were developed in the industrial age. It could be that some, or all, of these are wholly inconsistent with the behaviours required in a digital age.

It is these legacy practices that any business transformation programme should be addressing. Too often they focus on the digital tools themselves which are largely irrelevant.

Anyone can introduce a new IT system- but as digital organisational models emerge, it’s leadership that needs change.
organisationalchange  workplace  workandtools 
march 2017
What does transformation really mean? | Home Office Digital
There’s a lot of talk about transformation. People who use services don’t care if something has been ‘transformed’ or not. They just want to do something. So when we talk about ‘transformation’, we’re already speaking from an internally-focused perspective rather than outside-in.
transformation  servicedesign  organisationalchange 
march 2017
Innovation In The Public Sector: It's Risk Aversion A Cause Or A Symptom?
We need to recognise that a complete systems rebuild of the public sector is not an option, at least in the short to medium term. Therefore some space needs to be created for innovation and experimentation. A good start would be the development of outcome-based targets that cut across boundaries. These need to come with dedicated budgets and facilitated by teams that have capital, know-how and creatives. This is the kind of area where design thinking as championed the Policy Lab can add huge value.

In facilitating innovation it is important to create space for teams to drive change, and essential to provide them with top cover. This will need to be in parallel with much of the normal line of business work and will require leaders who are empowered to challenge the status quo in relation to internal rules and to ask for ways to allow emerging innovations to happen rather than reasons why to stop them.
innovation  organisationaldebt  designthinking 
march 2017
Organizational Culture as Lazy Sensemaking: What Ethnographers Can Do about Fundamental Attribution Error - EPIC
I am trying in my own organization to challenge the idea of “culture” as a holding place for a) stuff managers haven’t yet worked to understand and b) are likely to associate with the attitudes, beliefs, values, etc. of their workforce. Instead of culture, I am trying to articulate concrete constructs and practical methods that can help my colleagues get a working handle on context—which can include everything from the physical environment to organizational timekeeping policies—and its relationship to individual and collective behavior. Ethnographic practice offers the richest set of constructs and tools for understanding context: through collaborative, participatory engagement, we bring empathetic-but-detached perspectives on organizational behavior, leading to practical design outcomes that can humanize the workplace for everyone.
culture  organisations  ethnography 
february 2017
How Automation Helps Us Solve The Problems That Matter
Digital transformation is absolutely not about designing out people. It’s about designing out the ordinary and reserving people for the extraordinary.

Indeed , the paradox of automation says that the more efficient the automated system, the more crucial the human contribution. People are less involved, but their involvement becomes more critical.
transformation  automation  humanservice 
february 2017
Security and the Internet of Things - Schneier on Security
We're building a world-size robot, and we don't even realize it.

To be sure, it's not a robot in the classical sense. We think of robots as discrete autonomous entities, with sensors, brain, and actuators all together in a metal shell. The world-size robot is distributed. It doesn't have a singular body, and parts of it are controlled in different ways by different people. It doesn't have a central brain, and it has nothing even remotely resembling a consciousness. It doesn't have a single goal or focus. It's not even something we deliberately designed. It's something we have inadvertently built out of the everyday objects we live with and take for granted. It is the extension of our computers and networks into the real world.

This world-size robot is actually more than the Internet of Things. It's a combination of several decades-old computing trends: mobile computing, cloud computing, always-on computing, huge databases of personal information, the Internet of Things ­- or, more precisely, cyber-physical systems ­- autonomy, and artificial intelligence. And while it's still not very smart, it'll get smarter. It'll get more powerful and more capable through all the interconnections we're building.

It'll also get much more dangerous.
automation  futures  security  IoT 
february 2017
Why you don't need a digital strategy
Understand that digital is an enabler for good service design, it is not service design in itself. Forget your digital strategy and start writing a transformation and delivery framework for your organisation.
transformation  strategy  organisationalchange 
february 2017
How mistakes can save lives: one man’s mission to revolutionise the NHS
The pioneers of crew resource management knew that merely warning pilots about fixation error was not sufficient. It is too powerful an instinct to be repressed entirely even when you know about it. The answer lay with the crew. Because even the most experienced captains are prone to human error, the entire aircraft crew needed to act as a collective intelligence, vigilant for problems and responsible for solutions. “It’s the people at the edge of the room, standing back from the situation, who can often see it best,” Bromiley said to me.
failure  feedback  systems  leadership 
february 2017
Why We Solve The Wrong Problems | Paul Taylor
Everywhere I look I see organisations and people investing heavily in new initiatives, transformation, and change programmes. And in almost every case the goals will never be met.

One of the most crucial causes of the failure? The right questions were never asked at the outset.

We default to ideas and plans. Too many of which fail to get exposed to the tough love of effective questioning. We get wrapped up in solutions.
decisionmaking  problemsolving 
february 2017
Digital leadership: changing your whole approach, not just doing better digital projects - Janet Hughes
Leaders in the digital age must also actively take responsibility. They need to understand that they are connected to and can affect people’s lives in ways that were previously unimaginable. They must take privacy and security seriously, and understand the new and ever-changing landscape of threats and risks. They have to take care to understand the social and ethical impact and implications of what they’re doing, and of the changes that are happening in the world around them. They should know that they don’t have all the answers but keep asking searching, difficult questions.All this calls for a completely new style of leadership in the civil service and across our economy: we need skilled, bold and open leaders who can adapt, learn and deliver at pace. This is as at least as much about what behaviours are encouraged and rewarded as it is about what specific knowledge and skills people are expected to have.
leadership  government  digital 
february 2017
Why are we not asking the right questions? – Book of the Future – Medium
We’ve been shown robots taking over since Capek’s play that first gave us the term. Perhaps it’s no wonder people don’t take it seriously. At least not beyond a thin strata of society, defined not by class but by their own self-determined engagement with the issues.

But they — we — must start talking about this. It’s happening. We should not let it take society by surprise.
work  futures  automation 
february 2017
Workless, or working less? — Crooked Timber
Technological change has been rendering old skills obsolete ever since the invention of the spinning jenny in the eighteenth century, and will doubtless continue to do so. The real problems we face today are not technological but social and economic. Like it or not, a radical reorganisation of work is under way. The question is whether we can shape it to benefit the world as a whole, or whether it will continue to enrich the few at the expense of the many. As Dunlop concludes, “We have been told that when it comes to work, there is no alternative. What these new technologies suggest is that maybe there is.” 
welfarereform  work  futures 
february 2017
It’s the business model, stupid – three steps to transform UK public services
Government is lost, and looks in the wrong place. Faced with squaring the circle of maintaining public service levels in the face of continuous cuts, cost increases and exponential demand, it flails around for answers, too enchanted with technology quick fixes to recognise that the writing is on the wall for the entire public service structure as constituted.
disruption  systems  transformation 
february 2017
Glanceable truthiness – Rachel Coldicutt – Medium
Stephen Krug published his seminal book Don’t Make Me Think in 2000, and since then idea that designers and engineers do the thinking for their users has become commonplace. The fourth Government Digital Service design principles is “Do the hard work to make it simple” and it comes with a value judgement: “It’s usually more and harder work to make things simple, but it’s the right thing to do.”
democracy  engagement  design 
january 2017
The unconference where we learn from unconferences – Ben Proctor
My key takeaway is that the unconference process takes us only so far. We are asking a bunch of people who have often never met and have certainly never worked together in this configuration to create a space that will work to enable all of them to collaborate and contribute. I actually think it’s impressive how much this actually does work.
collaboration  conversation 
january 2017
Cognitive bias cheat sheet, simplified – Thinking Is Hard – Medium
There are 4 qualities of the universe that limit our own intelligence and the intelligence of every other person, collective, organism, machine, alien, or imaginable god. All 200ish of our known biases are attempts to work around these conundrums!
thinkingskills  cognitivebias 
january 2017
The Second Law of Thermodynamics - Steven Pinker
Poverty, too, needs no explanation. In a world governed by entropy and evolution, it is the default state of humankind. Matter does not just arrange itself into shelter or clothing, and living things do everything they can not to become our food. What needs to be explained is wealth. Yet most discussions of poverty consist of arguments about whom to blame for it.
welfaresystem  entropy 
january 2017
What's more important, the journey or the destination? - Louise Downe
If there’s one thing you need when you design things to make people's lives better ( in the public sector or private) is an unwavering sense of unselfishness and commitment to making things better for users. So when I look through portfolios I look for people who show that’s what they care about too.

Design isn’t the type of labour you can quantify in the amount of weeks you spend getting to something. Something worthwhile can take minutes or years, what matters is that you get there.
design  agile 
january 2017
Five ways to encourage digital disruption in government - Centre for Public Impact
There is a puzzle here. Clearly the technology is already available to do a wide range of really interesting, useful things. Why then does government seem unable or unwilling to adopt it?

Very simply because this is not a technology problem, it is a disruption problem.
disruption  agile  reform 
december 2016
Better discoveries — Myddelton
But discovery is different. Here you are concerned with doing the right things. You're hunting around for the right problems to tackle rather than coming up with solutions. Your user research is about digging into people's needs, tasks, motivations and goals rather than finding problems with your design. And you end up having to take a punt on a future direction. A informed gamble, but still a gamble.

This is leadership territory.
agile  leadership 
december 2016
A Field Guide to Life in Government for User Researchers | Swimming in Stormy Weather
what design offers to government is simply this – a straightforward toolkit of ideas and ways of working oriented to the idea that before we solve a problem we should really understand the problem with the people who have the problem. Only then should try to solve it by making solutions iteratively, with the people who have the problem. Finally – all the time we are doing that we remain open to the idea that our exploring and making may reveal a better understanding of the problem that will change our thinking about the solution.
design  userresearch  ethnography 
december 2016
Citizens Portals Y / N? - Carrie Bishop
“I really wish I had one place where I can see all my transactions with the council”, said nobody, ever. In all the workshops, co-design sessions and user interviews FutureGov has done over the last eight years no one could recall anyone expressing that kind of need.
usercentreddesign  userresearch 
december 2016
You can be a bit Agile - Matthew Cain
We will never report to a separate project board, whilst making prioritisation decisions in sprint planning. We will never produce highlight reports and show and tells. We will never produce detailed requirements and risk registers, whilst running an Agile project. If that’s what the business wants, we’ll do Prince2. But we won’t pretend. That’s when you can’t be a bit Agile.
agile  projects  culture 
december 2016
Designing digital services that are accountable, understood, and trusted (OSCON 2016 talk)
Questions of accountability, understanding and trust are only going to become louder.

These issues are only going to get harder to solve as we ask users for more data and to trust code to make decisions for them.

The organisations that understand this and start thinking about how to make services that are accountable, understandable and trusted will have the advantage.
trust  servicedesign  politics 
november 2016
Technology Won’t Kill Meetings — But We Can – The Future of Work by shapingwork – Medium
We thought the world of work was to be reimagined. The death of the office. The end of email. A utopia of work/life integration fueled by work-where-you-want technology.
workandtools  workplace  organisations 
november 2016
The blurring between Design Thinking and Agile – Front Line Interaction Design – Medium
The Agile Manifesto embraces this notion of perpetual beta and that software should be developed with a continuous loop of customer needs going in and ‘good enough’ software coming out.

This state of continuous refinement is ultimately the same as design’s process of jumping backward and forward. The only difference is that with design we stay in this state for the duration of the project, whereas in Agile we stay in this state for the lifetime of the software.
agile  design  lean 
november 2016
Need a strategy? Let it grow like a weed in the garden | Henry Mintzberg
Strategies grow initially like weeds in a garden; they are not cultivated like tomatoes in a hothouse. In other words, the process of creating strategies can be over-managed. Sometimes it is more important to let ideas emerge than to force a premature consistency on the organization. Allow those strategies to form, as patterns, not having to be formulated, as plans. The hothouse, if needed, can come later.
strategy  emergence  organisationalchange 
november 2016
Science fiction about AI never seems to talk about the interesting stuff, tax and geography and… – Medium
We’re past the point where we can pull the plug either physically, technologically or societally around AI and automation of the workforce, or would want to. Humankind augmented by AI can achieve so much. It’s time to get serious about the financial and societal implications. The whimsical notion of the legality of a robot being able to make money from their actions in Bicentennial Man are long gone. It’s time to understand how to reform an economy where human labour becomes a less valuable commodity and taxable personal income is a scarcity.
socialchange  businessmodels  algorithms 
october 2016
Technology doesn’t shape the future | mmitII
More of us who aren’t geeks need to engage with and be involved with the creation technology. It’s no longer enough to stand on the sidelines complaining that it’s all too complicated to understand. Here’s a secret: whilst some of the technologies we use today are quite complicated, much of it is really quite simple, just rather dull and tedious.

But this shouldn’t any longer be about “us” and “them”. I’ve spent most of my career as an outside in the world of technology, trying in my own little ways to show that the success of software depends on much more than the software. It’s about culture and behaviour and politics and Politics and psychology and sociology and art and design and passion and belief and luck and timing and storytelling and truth. And probably a few more things besides.
technology  society  engagement 
october 2016
A Minimum Viable Product Is Not a Product, It's a Process · The Macro
When you build a product, you make many assumptions. You assume you know what users are looking for, how the design should work, what marketing strategy to use, what architecture will work most efficiently, which monetization strategy will make it sustainable, and which laws and regulations you have to comply with. No matter how good you are, some of your assumptions will be wrong. The problem is, you don’t know which ones.
agile  servicedesign  design 
october 2016
Is Whitehall's obsession with business cases getting in the way of delivery? | Civil Service World
Business case development is really just as fickle as the conviction-led era that preceded them. It is just a good deal slower, and concealed in a veneer of numbers and buzzwords. Business cases are astrology, not astronomy.

That is because at their heart, business cases are crystal ball gazing with Excel tables. Experience has shown that there is no better way to guarantee poor predictions than to use individual experts to make assumptions about the future, and sprinkle on a little cognitive bias. Yet this is exactly how we still cost up all the biggest public sector investments.
civilservice  bureaucracy 
october 2016
When You Change the World and No One Notices — Collaborative Fund
Big breakthroughs typically follow a seven-step path:

First, no one’s heard of you.Then they’ve heard of you but think you’re nuts.Then they understand your product, but think it has no opportunity.
Then they view your product as a toy.Then they see it as an amazing toy.Then they start using it.Then they couldn’t imagine life without it.

This process can take decades. It rarely takes less than several years.
innovation 
september 2016
How To Make Complex Things Simple | Paul Taylor
Most of the problems we were set up to solve were relatively simple, but as organisations get larger, there’s more technology, more people, and more regulation. We put together processes, controls, reviews, and structures to deal with all these things. All of these factors together create a great amount of complexity.
simplification  complexity  organisations 
september 2016
Laying waste our powers – JP Rangaswami
Convenience cannot itself become a flag of convenience. The impetus to trade control and privacy for security is understandable but has appalling consequences.

Many years ago I spoke about the need to “design for loss of control”. Now I think more and more about “designing to protect the control rights of individuals”.
leeway  society  walledgardens 
september 2016
#YesAllSociety — because not just Government deserves brilliant leadership – Medium
Digital leaders aren’t here to fix IT.

When a board hires a ‘digital leader’, they’re not saying: we want a new IT department. Well, they might think they want a new IT department. But not deep down. Deep down, they’re really saying: We want someone to come and ask really hard questions. Foment change. Breed excitement and instability. (OK, they also want to ask why is their IT so pants.)
leadership  civilservice  transformation 
september 2016
Service design is for everyone - Sarah Prag
In an ideal world everyone who works in public service should have a service design mentality, and should be able to access, understand and confidently use service design tools.

I don’t think this should be a specialism, I think it should be a defining characteristic of the public sector.
servicedesign  organisationalchange  customers  culture 
september 2016
“Dark Value” in Public Services? – jon@thanflowers.com
Dark Value may be a useful way of describing some intangible sorts of value that don’t easily sit even within a social value framework. We all intuit that the 15 minute visits by home care workers are functionally “on spec” but miss so much in terms of human interaction (with potentially adverse impacts for the individual and prosaically for public finances too, as they need earlier admission to more expensive levels of care). I wonder whether there is “dark value” when people interact across public services, the value coming from an unstated belief in a shared value system, that is perceived as missing (sometimes unjustifiably) from interactions with private sector suppliers?
servicedesign  socialchange 
september 2016
Alpha and beta. Are we learning enough? – (it) just needs content
If we’re serious about delivering better services (I believe we are), we should accept that processes and technology need designing too. They shouldn’t become constraints to the design process.

Prototyping and gaining feedback from users is quick and cheap. But replacing legacy technology and processes takes longer. Often it will require significant investment.

There’s a danger in selecting only the design that most easily fits with these constraints. We might miss the opportunity to prove in beta the service that best meets our users’ needs.
agile  iteration  servicedesign 
september 2016
And yet it moves! Digital and self-organising teams with a little help from Galileo - Matt Edgar
In a pre-digital era, organisations appeared to be made of smooth, reporting lines, opaque meeting agendas and crisp minutes. Now the wrinkles and pits of communication and interaction are exposed in detail for all to see – every email, every message, every line of code.

Digital communications facilitate, magnify and expose people’s timeless habits of co-operation. These social phenomena are not new. It’s just that, until recently, indicators of productive informality were hidden from view. In the absence of evidence, we focused more attention, and founded our theories of management, on things that were immediately obvious: explicit hierarchies and formal plans.
agile  organisationalchange  history 
september 2016
Helen Bevan "Simple solution to traffic"
Great little film with insight for the flow of patients through the healthcare system

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iHzzSao6ypE
systems 
september 2016
Giving evidence for the future of Jobcentre Plus
Having Facebook on your phone doesn’t mean you can automatically job search, by yourself, confidently, every day of every week. We need to change how we diagnose those skills needs – and wider needs – and what checks and milestones we can put in place to track someone’s progress.
digitalinclusion  dwp 
july 2016
Why We Dumb Things Down — The Ready — Medium
Because they don’t have all the information, context, and nuance (and yet are expected to make most of the decisions), many leaders grow increasingly hungry for a better picture of reality. They simultaneously wish they could go broad and deep — across the organization and down into the ranks — to see what’s happening and fine tune their mental model. This search for the truth leads them to ask for and accept a broad range of meetings, reviews, and interactions. And so at last we return to the first step of this vicious cycle, where we find our leaders too busy for their own good.
leadership  organisations  culture  systemsthinking 
july 2016
The 7 Deadly Sins of User Research — Medium
great design doesn’t live inside designers. It lives inside your users’ heads. You get inside your users heads by doing good user research: research that provides actionable and testable insights into users’ needs.

Great design is a symptom. It’s a symptom of a culture that values user centred design.

And bad design is a symptom too. It’s a symptom of an organisation that can’t distinguish good user research from bad user research.
usercentreddesign  design  culture  research 
july 2016
How To Eliminate Organizational Debt — The Ready — Medium
If you’re Kodak, and your capital allocation process aggressively favors film (or any incumbent technology), that’s debt. If you require customers to fax or mail you written instructions to make changes to their account in 2016, that’s debt. If you can’t give a reasonable customer the thing they want because “our policy says,” that’s debt. These policies may have had the best intentions, but circumstances have changed. The true cost of not having the requisite structure and governance for the context you’re operating in may be hard to quantify, but it is real, and it is growing all the time.
organisationalchange  culture  servicedesign 
july 2016
Using Systems Thinking to Design Better Services — Medium
Unless there’s a concerted effort to redesign the operations to meet with expectations and needs of customers, the design is emergent. Emergent designs are more likely to serve the needs of the individuals that conceive of the solutions more than they serve the customer. The service itself is simply coping with the demand that’s thrown at them. Without looking at the service holistically and indeed, how the service is delivered operationally, we’re only every optimising locally.
systemsthinking  servicedesign 
july 2016
Lasers, hedgehogs and the rise of the Age of Yoghurt: reflections on #OpenDefra — Medium
Being ‘open’ to new ideas and open to sharing your own experiences and work helps to make things better, faster.Someone, somewhere, has almost definitely experienced the problems you’re facing. They have tested solutions to that problem. There are almost certainly tools and tricks and techniques you could use that you just haven’t heard about yet.

Being open isn’t just about broadcasting or pushing out work you’re doing in case others benefit. It’s about being open to experiences, expertise, and tools that could help you improve your own work.
opendata  opengovernment 
july 2016
5 ways we are putting data in the driving seat | Civil Service
We are testing the idea that there should be a duty on the creator of data to look after it on behalf of the entire system. A principle that it must be of high quality; accessible to others; and that no charge should be made for access to it. The starting point is not a prescription of technical standards (though they are important), but a simple agreement on terms of trade. Then we can build new platforms with confidence; and we can work out which current data flows are blocked and need attention, and for what reason.
datasharing  data  systemsthinking 
july 2016
Why Labs are as much about mindset as toolset | Open Policy Making
It is through this individual and collective spirit of exploration that Policy Lab works, pushing the boundaries of what is possible and trialling next practice.  A continuous process of developing new knowledge and skills that can improve policy-making - Building future cultures.

The principles we apply to our work can readily be applied to any policy-teams.  For us it is more of a mindset, of learning by doing, of exploring and experimenting with new ways of doing things.  
policymaking  experiment  innovation 
june 2016
It’s ok to think out loud about organisational culture - Digital LeadersDigital Leaders
Being a leader means being explicit about your expectations, spelling things out so that there’s no ambiguity. People often forget that, and just assume that everyone thinks the same way they do. Not so. The “It’s ok” list has been lurking in my head for years, but it was daft of me to assume that everyone else thought the same way. Writing it down, sharing it out, was the best way to be clear about it, and the best way to find out whether or not everyone else agreed. Turned out most people did.
culture  civilservice  workplace 
june 2016
Ben Holliday » The weight of starting
The hard part is starting.

I’ve found that the more you think about starting, the bigger it gets. It becomes an increasingly significant milestone.

The temptation is to try and counterbalance starting with evidence. With enough certainty to start.

The problem. The more evidence you think you need, the less likely you are to start.
agile 
june 2016
Disrupters vs Unifiers
I had to ask myself the other week — am I being disruptive enough or have I become a unifier? I think that there’s a distinction. Organisations go through different phases or shift focus, often deliberately. Individuals have to learn to play distinct roles. You can see this in different management and communication styles.
leadership  communication  organisationalchange 
june 2016
Building Products — The Year of the Looking Glass — Medium
A product succeeds because it solves a problem for people. This sounds very basic, but it is the single most important thing to understand about building good products.
The first step in building something new is understanding what problem you want to solve, and for whom. This should be crystal clear before you start thinking about any solutions.
agile  servicedesign  team 
june 2016
A routes file for the state
The state floats over us like an amorphous blob and the gap between citizen and state can be seen as wide and confusing. People are aware of the existence of the various cogs (Government, Parliaments and Assemblies, local councils, mayors) but don't seem clear about how those cogs connect to form the machinery within the state. Or where the competencies of one stops and another starts. Which usually doesn't matter too much. But if you do have a problem it's hard to identify where the levers of power might be.
democracy  government 
june 2016
Microsoft's Radical Bet On A New Type Of Design Thinking | Co.Design | business + design
One day someone will write a history of the Internet, in which that great series of tubes will emerge as one long chain of inventions not just geared to helping people connect in more ways, but rather, to help more and more types of people communicate just as nimbly as anyone else. But for the story here, the most crucial piece in the puzzle is this: Disability is an engine of innovation simply because no matter what their limitations, humans have such a relentless drive to communicate that they’ll invent new ways to do so, in spite of everything.
design  accessibility  inclusion 
june 2016
Guerrilla empathy (or why we should probably stop banging on about users all the time) – disambiguity
An empathetic team is transformational. But empathy is difficult to sell – especially to the senior stakeholders who need it the most. Business outcomes are not hard to sell.

Do empathy by stealth. Stop talking about empathy. Let empathy be the by-product of helping your organisation meet its objectives through user research and demonstrate this by taking a methodical, collaborative, hypothesis driven approach to your work.

Then stand back and wonder, yet again, at empathy’s power to transform teams and organisations.
userresearch  engagement  organisationalchange 
may 2016
How to Search Twitter - The Best Twitter Search Tricks
Here’s a complete list of Twitter search operators that can help you perform more accurate searches on Twitter
notforIE 
may 2016
Technology is neither magical nor neutral | Gerry McGovern
We are only now getting a new generation of managers who actually realize that technology is not magic. That is does require careful management to get the best out of it. This is what the essence of digital transformation is about. It is about the transformation of management practice so that it can better manage the technology that is essential to its survival.
management  digital  organisationalchange 
may 2016
How Technology Hijacks People’s Minds — from a Magician and Google’s Design Ethicist — Medium
I learned to think this way when I was a magician. Magicians start by looking for blind spots, edges, vulnerabilities and limits of people’s perception, so they can influence what people do without them even realizing it. Once you know how to push people’s buttons, you can play them like a piano.

And this is exactly what product designers do to your mind. They play your psychological vulnerabilities (consciously and unconsciously) against you in the race to grab your attention.
design  nudge  usercentreddesign 
may 2016
Our “No Asshole” Rule — adventur.es
In software there is a concept called “code debt,” which refers to future liability for continually patching bad code. The little fixes that save time in the short term, create a ticking time bomb. Eventually the system blows up and costs a tremendous amount of time and money to fix. But until that event occurs, things look considerably more profitable. Culture operates identically. Companies can offer retention bonuses and cajole a rosy facade for a while. Eventually though, the underlying issues show and the culture debt is paid.
culture  organisations  leadership 
may 2016
Why the arrival, not the journey, matters | Memex 1.1
If, as now seems obvious, the Internet is a General Purpose Technology, then our societies are only at the beginning of a journey of adaptation, not the end. And this may surprise some people because the Internet is actually rather old technology. How you compute its age depends really on where you define its origins. But if you think — as I do — that it starts with Paul Baran’s concept of a packet-switched mesh in the early 1960s, then it’s now in its mid-fifties.

So you’d have thought that our society would have figured out the significance of the network by now. Sadly, not. And that’s not because we’re short of information and data about it. On the contrary, we are awash with the stuff. Our problem is that we don’t, as a culture, seem to understand it.
internet  history  planning  transformation 
may 2016
The Real Bias Built In at Facebook - The New York Times
With algorithms, we don’t have an engineering breakthrough that’s making life more precise, but billions of semi-savant mini-Frankensteins, often with narrow but deep expertise that we no longer understand, spitting out answers here and there to questions we can’t judge just by numbers, all under the cloak of objectivity and science.

If these algorithms are not scientifically computing answers to questions with objective right answers, what are they doing? Mostly, they “optimize” output to parameters the company chooses, crucially, under conditions also shaped by the company.
algorithms  media  determinism 
may 2016
Would putting all Ministers in one building help them beehive? | Mark Langdale | LinkedIn
With so much change affecting both the size and location of the UK Government's civil service machine, both in Whitehall and across the country, should Downing Street now consider creating a more effective physical centre for Ministers to work together? 
ministers  politics  networks 
may 2016
Product Success
In order for a product team to solve hard business problems, it’s not enough that the solution just work technically, and it’s also not enough that the customer loves it, but also, and often most difficult, the solution must actually work for your business.
agile  servicedesign 
may 2016
The different types of design in government | GDS design notes
Design is a broad field, with many different specialisms. We’ve split design into four distinct roles. No one of these roles is more senior than the other. Our roles are specialisms, not a hierarchy. We’ve created specialisms because we operate at a massive scale, and no one person can be good at everything. There’s no ‘right way to be a designer’ you can be one, or all of these things – with more chucked in for good measure.
servicedesign  design 
april 2016
It’s not about the technology! (Apart from when it is).
“Digital/transformation/business is not about technology it's about design / strategy / culture” is a recurring meme. It can be a comforting thing to cling on to, and it’s probably true a lot of the time, but is also not true in some important respects.

Technology does matter. Good digital / design / business / transformation / culture / strategy requires an understanding of the materials.
culture  design  technology 
april 2016
Alex Blandford — Digipology
Think of it like a Wikipedian in residence. Modern organisations conducting user research generate hundreds of hours of video, thousands of scirbbled or hurriedly typed notes and transcripts. Get someone to be a custodian of those with a remit to get deeper understanding out of them, and be open (but respectful to the participants).
information  knowledgemanagement  userresearch 
april 2016
Putting down roots | Catherine Howe
Look far ahead and in front of your nose at the same time: I am less and less of a mind to write a strategy – I am more inclined to work with people to develop a big ambitious vision and a series of reasonable steps towards it as no strategy ever survives contact with reality and change needs the momentum you gain from just getting stuff done
Audacious optimism: Really. You are trying to change a WHOLE SYSTEM – you have to be ludicrously optimistic!
Know you will fail: This is why the optimism is audacious . Your plans will be diluted down and you will make compromises but how you fail matters and if you have learned and if the world is a tiny bit better rather than a tiny bit worse then bank it as a win
systemsthinking  change  changemanagement 
april 2016
Seven principles to help us strengthen our data infrastructure | News | Open Data Institute
Society is not currently treating data as infrastructure. We are not giving it the same importance as our road, railway and energy networks were given in the industrial revolution – and are still given now. Good infrastructure is simply there when we need it. We know our data infrastructure is working when it is boring – when we don’t need to think about it.
data  opendata  information 
march 2016
Empathic, vulnerable, curious: inspirational leadership in the civil service — Medium
I’ve been a civil servant since 2009; during that time I’ve observed many types of leader. We all know when we’re working with a great leader: they inspire us, give us space, motivate us, and make us excited to come to work every day. It’s not about seniority or power; these people have this effect regardless of their grade or formal relationship to us. I’ve been thinking recently about what unites the leaders who have most inspired me during my time in government.
leadership  civilservice 
march 2016
Registering a concern - honestlyreal
So – registers. Top idea. They’ll be definitive. They’ll be owned. They’ll feed and support other systems.

But will they, y’know, work?
registers  data  systems 
march 2016
The XY Problem
The XY problem is asking about your attempted solution rather than your actual problem. This leads to enormous amounts of wasted time and energy, both on the part of people asking for help, and on the part of those providing help.
problemsolving 
march 2016
GOV.AU is a ‘mental model’ of government | Digital Transformation Office
Most people don’t know all the parts of government and what they do. Many people think of government as one thing but government generally doesn’t present a single view to end-users. For a successful transaction, people have to know where to find the information they need - but typically that information is spread across several different websites. Users then need to compare and synthesise that information to make sense of what government wants them to do. People told us that: they never feel certain that they have all the information, the information is up-to-date, and they never know what they will find next.
government  organisations  servicedesign 
march 2016
Presenting is performance
As you write the content of each slide, practice saying what you’ll say when it’s in front of an audience. Practice the stories and jokes you’ll tell along the way. Practice the beginning, where you introduce yourself and the organisation you represent. And practice the end, where you sum everything up and wind your way to a conclusion.

Presenting is performance. Rehearse like it’s a show, and your audience will listen.
presentation 
march 2016
An Insider’s Guide To Business Design At IDEO — IDEO Stories — Medium
When we look for creative solutions to user problems, those solutions typically come in the form of a product or service. But what we deliver to a client — and what a customer eventually experiences — is not a product or service in a vacuum. It’s all the stuff around it too. I am able to think creatively around the design of the business by deconstructing all the assumptions around its business model and reassembling them to derive value in new ways. I believe that for a lot of products and services out there, the brilliance is in the business.
design  businessmodels  businesschange  organisationalchange 
march 2016
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