So last Friday was #OpenSSW which was held at County Hall in Exeter.
In the now normal feedback approach here are my highlights as a set of bullet points
Different people came and participated – one of the great things for me was that the audience list wasn’t filled with the “govcamp and localgovcamp” crew, not that it would have been a bad thing, but one aim was to reach and empower a bunch of new people.
The quality of speakers was fantastic – i’m lucky enough to know them all and feel honoured that they gave their time so easily and it makes a huge difference to the following conversations when people have been inspired and challenged by those speakers – although a change in format slightly in the future to better harness those conversations would be required. Perhaps related unconference sessions after a couple of speakers to keep it moving and inclusive
Events are hard work – Organising events is not a profession I’d like full time, but I’m so passionate about making this an annual event and supporting the network to grow and mature
We still need to pitch to senior mgrs – I still need to work on encouraging a greater attendance from service heads and councillors as the diversity in conversation needs those views.
Support for challenge – Thinking differently isn’t easy for some people and we probably need some kind of informal mentor / coaching network to help connect those people with others who can help and guide – this should be across different organisations so those mentoring can also learn about new situations and environments
Ask real people – Simon Gough and Phillippa Rose kept it local by actually videoing real people on the street in advance of what they thought localgov could do better and what digital local government should look like, the fact that not many people knew was also very interesting – a huge challenge ahead for all localgov if we wish to shift and transform the relationship with citizens
IT came up trumps – Council wifi can work if you find the people in IT who think outside the box – a massive thanks to them as I didn’t have an complaints about wifi all day…
It felt local #properjob – Keeping the event local helps to keep the conversations whilst generic focused on issues which people in the region can identify with more quickly
I need to learn so much – Andrea Siodmok is such a wonderful and clever person and I’d love to find out more about how her brain works and how she approaches issues and problems
Two days could work – Next time we should actually look at making it a two day event with actual camping
So many ideas – Carrie Bishop has a wonderful mind and I could listen to hear all day, although the way she waves her arms about it maybe better to dance with her
You don’t always need tech – Catherine Howe is awesome and her presentation (without slides) was very thought provoking and the issues of disintermediation is something which is really fascinating right now
Open by default, digital by design – this should be our core values and when you unpick it it can change the way we think about everything we do
Localgov is awesome – Justin Griggs is a great advocate of the real local government and we need to work out ways in which we can collaborate, cooperate and network better
Maintaining humour keeps things real – Only Dave Briggs can use the word foreskin and make it relevant to social without it being inappropriate – well that depends on your view of course
Know your audience – George Julian really understood the audience, mentioning a mass of stats based on the data collected on eventbrite…now she really is a geeky researcher and she is also a very nice person who I have great respect for
Photos are essential – I’d like to thank my colleague Sam Freeman for taking photos which you can access here
Localgov innovation doesn’t just happen in London – My final point and most important one is that the South West is doing amazing things as are all the other regions – London isn’t the centre of the innovation universe and we should promote the work happening at a local level more often. I’m obviously keen on helping in the south west
Overall I really enjoyed the event and I want to thank everyone who helped, contributed, challenged, shared, inspired, empowered, tweeted and gave up a Friday.