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 
13 days ago
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 
15 days ago
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 
17 days ago
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 
17 days ago
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 
20 days ago
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 
21 days ago
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 
24 days ago
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 
5 weeks ago
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 
6 weeks ago
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 
6 weeks ago
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 
6 weeks ago
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 
7 weeks ago
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 
7 weeks ago
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 
8 weeks ago
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 
8 weeks ago
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 
8 weeks ago
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 
8 weeks ago
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 
9 weeks ago
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 
9 weeks ago
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 
9 weeks ago
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 
9 weeks ago
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 
11 weeks ago
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 
12 weeks ago
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
Do less. The Inverted-U — Medium
I think it’s worth asking the following questions of agile teams:
What if–past a certain point–adding more design, content, or features starts to make things worse?
What if–past a certain point–having more stakeholders, experts, or analysts makes us understand the problem less clearly?
What if–past a certain point–adding more security measures, makes things less secure?
What if–past a certain point–more complexity, leaves the service or transaction more open to fraud and deception?
What if we made more time to look at our products and services through the eyes of those that experience them and focussed more on removing barriers than adding solutions?
agile  servicedesign 
march 2016
Ten more years! Ten more years! | Consult Hyperion
My brand spanking new chip card from a UK issuer not only arrived with a 2000s app of a 1990s implementation of a 1980s product (debit) on 1970s chip, it also came with a 1960s magnetic stripe on it and a 1950s PAN with a 1940s signature panel on the back. It’s no wonder it seems a little out of place in the modern world.
technology  legacy  infrastructure 
march 2016
Does This Make My Customers Rich? Business Tips For The Future Steady-State Economy | Co.Exist | ideas + impact
The one edict that should govern all businesses: "Does this make my customers rich? If I'm making other people wealthy, then I am supporting the ecosystem that will keep my business alive."

Right now, our economy is set up to ask the entire opposite question: Does this make our investors rich? Instead of valuing and rewarding the creation of a sustainable economy, we value growth above all other things. Venture capital infuses companies with enough cash that they can expand astronomically and make their founders incredibly wealthy. Look at Twitter, currently besieged by open letters about how to improve its business as its stock tanks. This is the prime example of an economy with the wrong priorities—and the mistakes founders can make by giving into a mindset that growth is the only meaningful goal of business.
businessmodels  markets 
march 2016
There are no system needs, only user needs | NHS.UK Alpha blog
‘The system’ isn’t some alien organism that’s living somewhere separate from the people who use it.

We, as people who work in the NHS, develop system solutions to answer user needs.

The system itself, however, doesn’t have needs.

Talking about system needs encourages us to work in isolation. It puts us back into the bubble and back into silos.

We should burst that bubble, do the hard work and always ask ‘what’s the user need behind this thing we’re aiming for?’.
needs  systems  health 
march 2016
Are you thinking about social care? | NHS.UK Alpha blog
We’ve looked at people as whole people and tried to understand their lived experiences. And it’s why I think that in relation to digital services, and NHS.UK specifically, we need to stop talking about ‘social care’ as something that is different to other kinds of care.

We must stop reflecting our siloed government structures onto the public, and keep focussed on the people we’re delivering services for. People simply want to access and receive the care that they need – they don’t understand how the health and care system works and they shouldn’t have to.
usercentred  personalisation  health 
march 2016
Twitter Has Become a Park Filled With Bats -- Following: How We Live Online
Twitter is like a beloved public park that used to be nice, but now has a rusty jungle gym, dozens of really persistent masturbators, and a nighttime bat problem. Eventually the Parks Department might rip up the jungle gym, and make some noise about fixing the other problems, because that's what invisible administrators like Twitter staff and municipal recreation departments tend to do. But if the perverts and the bats got to be bad enough with no recourse, you'd probably just eventually stop going.

(Additionally frustrating is that everybody is complaining about the safety issues at the park, and instead of addressing them, the city installs a crazy new slide. What? Nobody was calling for that. What about the perverts? What about the bats?)
socialmedia 
march 2016
History in the digital age — Medium
If a historian were to write an institutional history of GDS. The sources they could draw from within the public digital sphere would be blogs, tweets and the oral history of those behind GDS. The internal history of how we arrived at gov.uk website would be drawn from GitHub, Google Documents then Basecamp and Slack conversations. We know how an organisation like the FCO with a long history of maintaining records retains it’s institutional memory . But how does a relatively new kid on the block GDS manage information for future historians to research? What of all those post it notes in the margins? Will all those conversations on Slack be available twenty years from now?
history  records 
february 2016
Mobile, smartphones and hindsight — Benedict Evans
It's always fun to laugh at the people who said the future would never happen. But it's more useful to look at the people who got it almost right, but not quite enough. That's what happened in mobile. As we look now at new emerging industries, such as VR and AR or autonomous cars, we can see many of the same issues. The big picture 20 years out is actually the easy part, but the details are the difference between Nokia and DoCoMo ruling the world and the world as it actually happened. There's going to be a bunch of stuff that'll happen by 2025 that we'd find just as weird. 
mobile  future 
february 2016
What’s Next in Computing? — Medium
If the 10–15 year pattern repeats itself, the next computing era should enter its growth phase in the next few years. In that scenario, we should already be in the gestation phase. There are a number of important trends in both hardware and software that give us a glimpse into what the next era of computing might be. Here I talk about those trends and then make some suggestions about what the future might look like.
notforIE  future 
february 2016
Finding the natural motivation for change | pipka.org
The concept of finding the ‘natural motivation’ of players involved is a key component when I’m planning any type of systemic change. This isn’t a particularly unique or new idea, but I am constantly surprised how rarely I see it adopted in practice, and how often things fail by not taking it into consideration. It is critical if you want to take a new idea from the domain of evangelists and into ‘business as usual’ because if you can’t embed something into the normal way people act and think, then whatever you are trying to do will be done reluctantly and at best, tacked on to normal processes as an afterthought.

In recent years I’ve been doing a lot of work to try to change systems, thinking and culture around open government, technology in government and open data, with some success. This is in part because I purposefully take an approach that tries to identify and tap into the natural motivation of all players involved.
changemanagement  collaboration  co-production 
february 2016
Social Media is the new black | Catherine Howe
The need for public servants to become active online reflects a belief that this is the most effective way of starting to experience and therefore understand what our transition to a network society might mean. Without that understanding we are powerless to try and shape it for the future. Social media can be seen as the leading edge of a range of digital and networked technologies which will disrupt the way in which we operate. Best therefore to try and get a grip of this before quantified self or augmented reality really blows your mind.
leadership  socialmedia  networks 
february 2016
Setting standards that stick — Public Innovators’ Network — Medium
The responsibility for those with influence is to find the people who want to do the right thing, and remove everything that gets in their way.

Big organisations run on inertia. That doesn’t mean they stand still. They resist change in their direction and speed. If you’re trying to set standards for what good looks like, to have a real impact, you have to deliver something that disrupts inertia. So to have real bite, you need standards attached to powers. Look forward to becoming unpopular.
organisations  overtonwindow  servicedesign  changemanagement 
february 2016
The NHS’s future is digital – but not if we simply replicate poor paper processes | Candace Imison | Society | The Guardian
In some cases where technological interventions have failed, new systems have simply been layered on top of existing structures and work patterns, creating additional workload for healthcare professionals. The technologies that have produced the greatest immediate benefits have been carefully designed to make people’s jobs easier, with considerable investment in the design process. People we interviewed for our research talked time and again about the importance of using technology to reimagine current work processes. 
workandtools  processdesign 
february 2016
Put down all behaviour hurtful to informality! – Matt Edgar writes here
I believe productive informality is more than nice to have: it forms a virtuous circle that we can turn to our advantage:

Service productivity builds trust
Trust engenders informality
Informality is the route to richer, faster learning
Continual learning is essential for any service to be productive
work  authenticity  leadership 
february 2016
Why historians should care about web archiving | Webstory: Peter Webster's blog
So, in twenty or thirty years’ time, historians of the very late twentieth century will have reason to regret that no-one thought to keep their primary sources safe for them. But there is another problem. It is a brave historian who writes on the very recent past, a remote subject indeed; I myself wrote an article in 2004 that extended up to 1990, and not without some unease about the hostages to scholarly fortune it gave. And so most of the historians who have the greatest personal stake in archiving the web right now haven’t yet entered the profession. I would argue that historians are uniquely well-placed to view the present in relation to the past, and thus to anticipate those aspects of the present for which there is most need for a record. But it would take a significant change in culture such that historians working now start to take a hand in preserving sources for our successors.
history  futures  records 
february 2016
A little while ago I was at UKGovCamp and it was fantastic. — Medium
The sad truth of it is we are all scared, confused and in doubt. We have a general idea that we don’t want to bring shame to the departments or companies we work with and we all know we don’t get everything right all of the time. Something to do with being fallible humans. How pesky.
My impression is this is in part caused by the attention the press rightly pays to the work that we do in government. When we fail we tend to fail big and the public have a right to know why. The sad truth of that of course is yet again no one wants to say anything, so trying to find out why we fail when we do is like getting blood from a stone for the people who have to do this job.
media  transparency 
february 2016
The 7 Deadly Sins of User Research — Medium
My definition of a successful user research study is one that give us actionable and testable insights into users’ needs. It’s no good asking people what they like or dislike, asking them to predict what they would do in the future, or asking them to tell us what other people might do.
The best way of gaining actionable and testable insights is not to ask, but to observe. Your aim is to observe for long enough so that you can make a decent guess about what’s going on. Asking direct questions will encourage confabulation, not tell you what is actually going on.
research  userexperience 
february 2016
Sometimes you need a speedboat, sometimes a container-ship. — Medium
We thought for a long while about how to describe the difference between things which needed to be slow and sure and precise (the CMS) and things which needed to be fast. One had a huge risk of breaking mission critical things if you got it wrong, the other had the huge risk of being built so slowly that a breaking news opportunity was missed or the cost was too high for the duration the application was needed. Eventually we called the slow one a container ship and the fast one a speedboat. Both are useful, both have their place. The thing which enabled speedboats was cheap disposable compute resources, APIs and code to consume the APIs quickly and reliably.
agile  developers 
february 2016
The Waze Effect: AI & The Public Commons — NewCo — Medium
Absent a more robust dialog addressing these issues, we run a real risk of creating a new kind of regulatory capture — not in the classic sense, where corrupt public officials preference one company over another, but rather a more private kind, where a for-profit corporation literally becomes the regulatory framework itself — not through malicious intent or greed, but simply by offering a better way.
algorithms  regulation  innovation 
february 2016
Time to change Twitter, or #RIPTwitter? | Paul Bernal's Blog
The idea of using algorithms is very attractive, but it’s underpinned by an illusion that algorithms are somehow ‘neutral’ or ‘fair’. This is what brings about the idea that Google is a neutral indexer of the internet and a guardian of free speech, but it really is an illusion. Algorithms are human creations and embed ideas and biases that those who create them may well not even be aware of. They can make existing power imbalances worse, as the assumptions that underpin those imbalances are built into the very thought processes that create the algorithms. Yes, people can compensate, but even that act of compensation can bring about further biases. Where the essence of the idea behind an algorithm is to make Twitter more money, then that bias itself will interfere with the process, consciously, subconsciously or otherwise.
socialmedia  twitter  algorithms 
february 2016
The Secret UX Issues That Will Make (Or Break) Self-Driving Cars
We don’t ditch what we have. We constantly update our metaphors, trying to find familiar handholds that quietly explain how a technology works. In digesting new technologies, as we climb a ladder of metaphors, each rung might follow the one before. Over time, we find ourselves further and further from the rungs we started with, so that we eventually leave them behind, like so many tiller-inspired steering wheels.

The deeper lesson in all this is that people naturally get frustrated when something doesn’t do exactly what they imagined; they get lost when things don't work as assumed.
userexperience  servicedesign 
february 2016
Five steps to making a product users love — Medium
This is the culmination of a few years’ worth of discovery, practice and thinking from working with early-stage digital products. This is my playbook that describes what I do, and a little of how I do it.
digital  servicedesign  agile 
february 2016
When bright people make dull policy recommendations | Nesta
The disadvantage of the adviser’s approach is that it doesn’t put a premium on originality. After all, most good policy ideas aren’t original, and most original policy ideas aren’t good. You would expect even a very good policy white paper to include lots of old ideas. This is a problem if you are expecting the chapter to tell you something new and fresh.
policymaking  creativity 
january 2016
What if boldness were an explicit value of the civil service? — Medium
I’ve always been drawn to boldness. I find boldness in others inspiring, infectious, empowering, creative and meaningful. I want to spend time around bold, honest, open people. I want to be inspired and empowered to boldness myself. I know I am at my best when I can feel the weird whoosh of terror and relief that comes from real, heartfelt boldness. And I don’t think you can lead a great team, or transform organisations or services without a healthy amount of boldness.
leadership  authenticity  organisations 
january 2016
Alex Blandford — Elbow grease
Fixing big government digital problems takes elbow grease. It takes political campaigners to get the politicians buy in and the budget, it takes business planners and procurement people to get civil servants used to agile, it takes product managers and delivery teams to show value for money, it takes a range of disciplines, skills beyond sharpies and patience beyond saints.
servicedesign  changemanagement  innovation  bureaucracy 
january 2016
Why Big Companies Keep Failing: The Stack Fallacy | TechCrunch
The stack fallacy provides insights into why companies keep failing at the obvious things —  things so close to their reach that they can surely build. The answer may be that the what is 100 times more important than the how.
design  businesschange  servicedesign 
january 2016
Helping Civil Servants help Citizens | No Quick Wins
I am very much in favour of public servants being trusted to make professional judgements within the context of their work.  But if we want to drive a change towards more modern and efficient tools we should make it easy.  And at the moment, it’s too easy to carry on using a clunky combination of email, attached documents and corporate file shares rather than put the effort into assessing whether an online collaboration tool is fit for purpose – and then working out how to transfer the ‘final version’ into the official record.
organisations  civilservice  information 
january 2016
Bits or pieces?: Cloud is outsourcing but it's not outsourcing (as was).
The problem with outsourcing in the past wasn't the concept of outsourcing but instead that organisations outsourced entire systems for which they had no situational awareness. This was foolish and of course outsourcing got a bad name except from the suppliers who cottoned onto the scam and made oodles of cash out of it. The simple reality is that there's nothing wrong with outsourcing if you break down complex environments into components and outsource those industrialised ones.
businesschange  strategy 
december 2015
Designing a New Operating System for Work — What’s The Future of Work? — Medium
Large organizations are a kind of technology, a technology for scaling up economic activities while minimizing costs of doing so. You could think of it as an operating system for work that’s been running for a century. And now we’re creating a new operating system, based on always-on Internet, mobile devices, social media, sensors and geolocation technologies. But this new operating system for coordinating human activities and creating new kinds of value could also be riddled with catastrophic bugs, pushing large swaths of the population to labor at subsistence levels, with no benefits and little predictability over their earning streams.
work  organisationalchange 
december 2015
The Politics of Empathy and the Politics of Technology — The Message — Medium
The people who run the Internet platforms are making calls about who they think is deserving of empathy. That makes their decisions thoroughly political. The fact that I sympathize with the challenge of making these decisions is not what is important. Rather, I am pointing out that none of these are decisions are automatic outputs emanating from the technology itself, nor are they independent of technology and its characteristics. There are genuine constraints and issues about what’s possible, easy and straightforward to implement. The geo-fencing versus spam issue, for example, cannot be resolved without discussing the Internet’s architecture. Encryption cannot be deactivated for some people (the bad guys) without making all of internet insecure, for example. The politics of technology is politics, but it’s never just politics.
politics  power 
november 2015
Mobile, ecosystems and the death of PCs — Benedict Evans
The things you can only do on a PC, with a native PC application, keep shrinking. Indeed, I've argued elsewhere that it's time to invert our mental model and think of the PC, not the smartphone, as the limited device.

So, each new computing platform will never be used for real work, but the platform gets better and the work changes to fit the new platform. In tech, 'never' seems to be 5-10 years (so does 'soon').
mobile  disruption  innovation 
november 2015
A blog is your brain, over time, on the internet
Over time, a blog becomes a corpus of knowledge - your knowledge, or your organisation’s knowledge. A blog is your brain, over time, on the internet. An archive of what you think now and what you thought before. And that means it’s one of the simplest and most effective ways you can make things open, and make things better.
socialmedia  creativity 
november 2015
Stop saying technology is causing social isolation — Digital Culturist — Medium
We need to stop thinking technology is ruining everything, making us a slave to it, mindlessly using our smartphones all the time. It is not. It is enriching our lives, connecting us to the people that matter the most to us regardless of how far away they are, connecting us to all kinds of people whom we wouldn’t have met otherwise. So, stop feeling superior for making fun of other people because they’re using their smartphones, stop pretending our lives and society would be better without them, stop blaming technology for natural human behaviors.
socialchange  devices  society 
october 2015
Gotta catch ‘em all, or, a story about digital transformation in four movements | Matt Edgar writes here
Members of high-performing teams bring more of themselves to their work. Suits must mix with t-shirts, uniforms must be considered harmful. The broader its collective perspectives, the more empathy a team can build with all its users.

What if users were in the room with you? Would they feel at home? Would they understand the words you use? Would they feel valued and respected? Because workers are users too. And if the way we live our lives is changing, then so must the way we do our work. You can’t truly deliver one without the other.
agile  organisations  delivery 
october 2015
What World Are We Building?
It’s easy to love or hate technology, to blame it for social ills or to imagine that it will fix what people cannot. But technology is made by people. In a society. And it has a tendency to mirror and magnify the issues that affect everyday life. The good, bad, and ugly.
socialnetworks  data  society 
october 2015
So you want to manage a product? — The Product Management Coalition — Medium
Being a product manager is about making compromises between what your team can accomplish within a given period of time and what your customers absolutely need. You will continually be torn between your team, customers, and business in an impossible race against time. The minor victory is in balancing short- and long-term product strategy, no matter if your product was conceived today or twenty years ago.
agile  servicedesign 
october 2015
Putting the “design” into organisation design – FutureGov
Good organisation design is one of the most important factors in making transformation happen, and here’s why: because we can’t bring radical change to the services we deliver without bringing radic
organisations  organisationalchange  design 
october 2015
You Mustn’t Criticise The Status Quo At A Hackday ← Terence Eden's Blog
If you work at a large company, or in a powerful industry, you must listen to your critics. You don't have to believe everything they say about you, nor do you have to accept their arguments. But if you can't listen, you've lost. For everyone brave enough to stand on stage and voice their displeasure, there are many more silently nodding in agreement.
disruption  engagement 
september 2015
Volkswagen and the Era of Cheating Software || Zeynep Tufekci
The good news is that there are well-understood methods to safeguard the integrity of software systems. The bad news is that there is as yet little funding for creating the appropriate regulatory framework for smart objects, or even an understanding of the urgent need for it. We are rightly incensed with Volkswagen, but we should also consider how we have ceded a lot of power to software that runs everything from our devices to our cars, and have not persisted in keeping tabs on it. We correctly worry about hackers and data leaks, but we are largely ignoring the ramifications of introducing software, a form of intelligence, to so many realms — sometimes called the Internet of Things.
internetofthings  security  trust 
september 2015
Richie | Data is not an asset, it’s a liability
You don’t start with the raw data. You start with the questions you want answered. Then you collect the data you need (and just the data you need) to answer those questions.

Think this way for a while, and you notice a key factor: old data usually isn’t very interesting. You’ll be much more interested in what your users are doing right now than what they were doing a year ago. Sure, spotting trends in historical data might be cool, but in all likelihood it isn’t actionable. Today’s data is.

This is important, because it invalidates the whole premise of storing data just in case you’ll need it later. You simply won’t, so incurring the cost of storing and managing and safeguarding it makes no sense at all.

Actionable insight is an asset. Data is a liability. And old data is a non-performing loan.
data  privacy  businessmodels 
september 2015
The Security Risks of Third-Party Data - Schneier on Security
Organizational doxing is a powerful attack against organizations, and one that will continue because it's so effective. And while the network owners and the hackers might be battling it out for their own reasons, sometimes it's our data that's the prize. Having information we thought private turn out to be public and searchable is what happens when the hackers win. It's a result of the information age that hasn't been fully appreciated, and one that we're still not prepared to face.
security  privacy  cloudcomputing 
september 2015
It’s not about us, it’s about collaboration | Government Digital Service
Digital transformation isn’t just service design, it’s organisation design. It’s as much about people as it is about pixels and processors. And it’s hard. Re-thinking digital services means re-thinking how your organisation does things and why it does them in a particular way. It means challenging the status quo and constantly asking “Why?” and “What is the user need?”
businesschange  changemanagement  digital  government 
september 2015
What I’m talking about when I’m talking about government as a platform | Dave Briggs
Digital is not about technology, and government as a platform is not about IT. It is instead a way of rethinking the operating model of an organisation to meet the current and future needs of its customers, in the digital age. The technology is an important enabler, but it is the means rather than the end.
platforms  organisationalchange  digital 
september 2015
The Future of Firms. Is There an App for That? — Medium
For most of the developed world, firms, as much as markets, make up the dominant economic pattern. The Internet is nothing less than an extinction-level event for the traditional firm. The Internet, together with technological intelligence, makes it possible to create totally new forms of economic entities, such as the “Uber for everything” -type of platforms/service markets that we see emerging today. Very small firms can do things that in the past required very large organizations.
transactions  firms  disruption  transformation 
august 2015
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