On being nominated

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A few weeks back I was notified that I was included on the Public Services Award: Leadership Excellence shortlist. Public voting closes on 21st October – #VoteCarl…

Initially when I first heard I was like “WTF?” but after a while and after some grounding conversations with colleagues and my family I became personally proud and honoured to be included in the list given the outstanding quality of the other candidates.

In the time since it was first announced I’ve had so much positive feedback and people have said such wonderful things. I’ve received praise and congratulations from so many people including The leader of the council, the chief executive, my line manager, my Heads of Service, other Heads of Service, lots of internal and external peers and colleagues and even some teachers at my children’s school.

What all of this has done for me personally is fantastic, it has cemented some confidence, it has nudged me forward, it has challenged me to think about my impact and influence on the people around me at all levels but most of all it has made me think about the type of leadership I’ve demonstrated to justify being nominated in the first place.

On the awards website it states:

In a part of the world not always renowned for its innovation, Haggerty is building on his fundamental belief that local government is, and should, be “open by default and digital by design” and that every citizen can and will “meaningfully integrate the internet into their daily lives” to provide active and capable participation in a ubiquitous digital climate.

Haggerty, who also chairs the LocalGov Digital steering group, has been shortlisted for his energy and openness in pursuit of pervasive digital awareness and education, which has included an innovation month at Devon county council. “He’s doing something remarkable in a place you might not necessarily expect,” according to the Public Leaders Network editorial advisory board.

The interesting thing about all of the things that have been mentioned is that – and as a close friend pointed out – none of the things I have achieved are original or even my ideas…so they were quick to state that I was a fraud, but a worthy one…I’ll take that in a good way :)

However that doesn’t mean I don’t believe those things and want to work to make them happen, because I do – in fact I’m very passionate about the the future of local government, the digital climate for local public services, I want to help my council and others understand this space and to move forward. I do believe that being open by default and digital by design is fundamentally critical to public service design and I am very proud of being able to sell the idea of a month of creativity to our Corporate Leadership Team and then rally others around me to help make it happen. I’m also very proud of being Chair of LocalGov Digital which is full of people I admire and respect hugely and we are all on a collective journey and no one is better than anyone else – we simply work well together.

But the point that my colleague pointed out is correct, in that none of these things are my ideas – to a degree – I’ve been reusing, reframing and adopting other peoples ideas and bringing them together and where possible (hopefully) adding value, ever since I started working in this area. I’ve not got the answers and I know other people don’t either but together we can find our way through, What I try and do is make sense of those things and then through my blog and other channels try and share some of that thinking or ask questions.

In relation to the blurb about me I’d thought i’d provide the background to the bits it highlights so you can all know where this stuff originated.

  • Open by default, digital by design – was a phrase coined by Carrie Bishop at the Open Space South West Event in September 2012 – ever since she said that I adopted it like a personal mantra…So Thank you Carrie.
  • The Digital climate – This was a phrase I read in the City of Chicago’s digital strategy which was promoted by John Tolva, Chief Technology Officer (CTO) at City of Chicago – so Thank you John
  • The innovation month (Create & Innovate) – I reused an idea that the Met Office in Exeter used which was an “Innovate and Create” week – I simply reversed the name and extended the time. Thank you Mike and Natalie (colleagues at the Met Office)
  • Localgov Digital – I’m merely one a wider group of people who came together through frustration, determination and a passion for local government. Thank you to all the fellow steering group members

I think what has happened is that I’ve somehow managed to nudge some things forward, to help other people, to inspire other people and to be open about all those types of things in my blog – I seem to have demonstrated a type of leadership which some wish to recognise.

Everyone on the list deserves the award in my view – it is clear why they all deserve it – am I suggesting I deserve it more, no not in the slightest…in fact I’m only doing what I’m paid to do…this is what my job, my manager, my team, my service and my council expects and demands of me.

I’d like to believe that everyone working for the residents of Devon deserve an award – everyone knows the context and challenges people are dealing with in their everyday work life. I’m lucky I get to share my thinking, I’m in a role that exposes me more to a wider group of people. This is also replicated across every council area in the country – It isn’t easy working in the sector right now…it is full of uncertainty, full of fundamental change, but in amongst all of this people do the jobs that they are expected to do and more and I’m proud to be part of that team.

I think one of the contributing factors to be noticed, let alone nominated was my blog and my general level of activity of twitter – So i’d like to encourage more people to be brave and share their thinking, to take that first step and be open to challenge and constructive feedback. Not to win an award but to connect to a wider group of people who can and do help you.

I’ve been asked whether I want to win and yes of course I’d love to win (I would really love to win – #votecarl), but do I feel I deserve to win over the other candidates…no not really but that is something for anyone who votes to decide.

Whatever the outcome I’m going to enjoy this moment and enjoy the awards ceremony as it has already had a massive impact on my life by simply being recognised as a leader.

To the editorial group who put my name forward – THANK YOU.

#VoteCarl

 

The power of reflective thinking…

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Reflection, Imitation, Experience

Reflection, Imitation, Experience By Rickydavid on Flickr

I’ve not blogged as much as I used to, partly because I’ve been really busy (or lazy) and my draft posts and rough reflections don’t get finished like they used to (again lazy), but also because sometimes it is worth just taking stock and reflecting on what has happened, what is happening and what needs to happen.

Last year I started a personal journey of reflection which has developed into more of a regular and critical part of my personal learning and development. Going through two restructure processes last year helps you think about what you believe your key strengths are and what you actually want to do and more importantly who you want to be…Part of this story of reflection has already been told, so won’t dwell on it further here, other than to say, focusing on your strengths and understanding them, I mean really understanding what they are is a very powerful and enlightening experience – a process which was supported in a blog post by Kate Hughes on strengths 2.0, where she managed to conduct some kind of online questionnaire to explore some of her strengths. She states…

This approach immediately resonated with me. A weakness I’ve carried through my career is my lack of attention to detail (something necessary in my field). I’ve developed techniques to manage it; re-reading with a fresh pair of eyes, using spell check and asking colleagues to proof read documents I’ve produced. But it always feels uncomfortable for me and no matter how much I kick myself when I make mistakes, I don’t seem to be able to overcome my weakness.
Once I’d identified my strengths (through an online questionnaire that you access through a code in the book) I could see that detail was never going to be my thing and it would make more sense to focus on what I’m good at. According to the questionnaire, my strengths were: Futuristic, Ideation, Strategic, Activator and Significance. I think it summed me up to a tee.

Back in January at #UKGC12 on the second day, I suggested and then spent pretty much most of the day attending a session on “reflective practice”. Initially it was suggested because there was a spare room and I had a bit of a hangover if I’m honest, so the quiet space seemed an ideal opportunity to simply “recover” – the silence, the space, the time was truly valuable.

I remember reading a blog post after UKGC12 by IceRunner which summarised the session held by Lloyd Davis on new kinds of conversations and the value of silence… I really like this quote…

One of the themes that kept recurring was that of ‘nothing’. How the natural pauses became less awkward as time went on, how we strip pauses and filler noises such as ‘um’ and ‘err’ out of a conversation when transcribing it. How ‘efficient’ communication makes no place for gaps, and how much information is contained in the gaps between words; how silence in a song can add an undefinable quality; to what extent our self-image is defined by others’ opinions of us, creating a space within which our self-image exists.

BUT I ended up learning a lot from the silence, the time, the space, the company (although conversation was sporadic and random) it all helped reflect on learning and also a range of other things.

So continuing the theme of reflection – readers of this blog will be aware that I also work part-time with Public-i – This has provided me with a lot of learning and also further reflection and has also helped me understand and prove to myself the strengths that I thought I had are actually real and can be of benefit to other people and organisations…that is a reassuring process which I’m lucky to be able to get.

The double-edged sword of working with Public-i is that on one side I get to be involved in some really fascinating projects which are generally in and around the Brighton area and also meet some very inspiring people in the process…what isn’t to love about this opportunity…on the other hand however for me this has simply inspired me to think about my own local community and how I can and should be doing more to improve it, connect people together and take forward and extending other people’s ideas into my local area. One example project which i believe has huge potential in my community as well as linking with my local school is Casserole (a futuregov project).

I’m hoping we can incorporate this thinking with the school and children’s centre, as we have starting talking about a community kitchen and garden project…I’ve no idea exactly how this will turn out, but we have some ideas, some assets, some resources and importantly some passion to at least see what can happen with it…It is this type of thing that I feel I want to do more of…These kinds of projects which make a real difference on local people. Now I know i can do that with Public-i but not in my local area and that is something which is important to me…It may take longer, it may be more frustrating but if successful my family will benefit directly from it which is why it is worth taking forward.

At this point in time I’m reminded of a great quote from Martin Howitt’s blog on being awesome

I don’t want to be chasing my own dreams on my own. I don’t want to stand out and be awesome.

If I have to sit in meetings all day nudging things forward inch by painful inch rather than being the swashbuckling, disruptive Lone Ranger to make that happen? Ok then.

What I love about Martin’s quote is that he simply wants to make things better, he isn’t after personal glory, he is more interested in being part of a team, chipping away at a wider challenge and pushing things forward, one day at a time…I really admire this viewpoint.

I’ve come to realise, more so in the last year than at any other time in my 16 years working for local government that I really love working for local government – I really do – you’d think that I would have already had that view, I mean 16 years is a long time working for one organisation, but I don’t think i really appreciated what opportunities you actually have to make a difference to other people’s lives.

It couldn’t be a more challenging time to work in local government, it couldn’t be a more financially challenging time, but yet within this context, I am meeting and seeing more and more great people – passionate about doing things differently, thinking differently and full of energy – It is very reassuring and something I thought wouldn’t happen as you see and read about lots of really amazing people leaving the sector and moving on to new challenges.

I’ve also learnt that (and i think this has become more pronounced since becoming a parent) getting involved in voluntary work in my community – I have developed a stronger and deeper passion for my local area and how it can be improved. I feel like I’ve become more of an active citizen and experiencing the projects with Public-i have brought these things into perspective more as I’ve seen and heard from people who are doing exactly that in their community.

The next few years will not be about doing more for less, the same for less or even less for less, it has to and must be about doing things differently. I for one want to be part of the journey and am grateful that I have that opportunity in Devon and in my local community.

Behind the scenes of Open Space South West #OpenSSW

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With the Open Space South West website going live earlier this week, I thought I’d share some thoughts about how Open Space South West came about, who is involved, as well as share some personal thoughts about what I’d like to see happen and what I hope will be achieved (managing my own expectations).

The first thing to say is that Open Space South West is a real collaborative effort between Public-i and Devon County Council – helped by the multiple other organisations and people who are contributing time and money.  In fact all CityCamp, GovCamp and similar events are collaborative efforts and that in itself is a great testament to people’s individual passion as well the passion and commitment of private sector organisations to help support the public sector around innovation and service design.

I’d like to acknowledge the work being done by Public-i colleagues (primarily Tanya Harris) in helping to organise the event as I’m not really a detail person and Tanya has had experience of this through helping to organise the first City Camp Brighton Event as well as various other events and activities. As well as my team in Devon who built the website as I don’t have those types of skills :)

You can read more about the event and the programme on the website www.openspacesouthwest.info.

What are you personal expectations?

At  basic level I simply hope that the event is a success, in that people come, participate, feel inspired, are challenged and go away thinking about new opportunities and a new network of people who can help or share their learning. Not much to ask I know :)

I’m actually nervous about the event and I feel anxious about it. I’ve organised a couple of internal social media forums and they went well, so I don’t really know why I feel that way…I guess it might be because this is bigger, has a wider audience, is more public and will be compared in some ways to other similar events…But I need not fear as there is the added bonus of actually working with Public-i who have experience with these kinds of events

What is it like collaborating with Public-i?

To be honest this is the easy part, It does help that I’m actually employed by them for 2 days a week, but even without that advantage it would be the same. I’ve known the folks at Public-i for quite a while and I really like the way they work, how they think and most of all they are all great people. So working with them collaboratively has been easy.

How do you manage working for both private and public sector organisations? 

I’m not sure I do to be perfectly honest, I’m actually pretty hard on myself, so I actually currently believe that I’m not doing very well for either public-i or the council (i know that it isn’t actually true) but i do push myself to do better all the time.

Actually it is managing my time that I find the hardest, as it requires me to be far more organised than I’m used to as well as comfortable with if I’m honest. But that also involves my voluntary work as well as my family, both of which have suffered a little and my outlook is that i work to live, not live to work.

The contract was only for six months and there will be decisions to be made about what happens next (but that is another blog post for another day).

What does Public-i gain from you working with them?

Catherine Howe would be best to answer that, but from my point of view I’d like to think it was the way I look and think about things. I wouldn’t say I was especially different in skill sets, I mean probably worse off – I’m not that creative, I can’t code, I’m not a designer, I’m not especially good at sales, I’m not really an expert in any area – but it is in the “general” and the “overview” where i think my value comes from…connecting ideas, having ideas, pushing ideas forward, working with people to make things happen…I’m sure other people have various views on my skills and you are welcome to share them openly here if you wish…nothing like 360 feedback :) or as Carrie Bishop called it 3D feedback

Personally my view on myself is that I’m not a cog in a wheel, or a critical member of the team, but when I’m around different ideas are considered, perhaps new ideas, people feel challenged, maybe even inspired…I do believe however I can sell an idea.

What does Devon gain from you working with Public-i?

In a number of ways and this also makes me think that actually this whole opportunity should be more widely available to other public sector folk…what i mean from this is that I think people and organisations on both sides would benefit if those people who wished to seek new challenges and experiences were allowed to temporarily take development opportunities with a private sector organisations. You see and read all too often now that there is a massive brain drain happening within the sector and all the best people are leaving…yes some great people are leaving, but lets not forget and lets not underestimate the huge amount of latent talent that remains, waiting to be unlocked and let free…this is where events like open space south west come in for me, opening up new connections and opportunities for new people to be the leaders.

In my situation, I believe the council gains from my personal learning and development as well as from the new experiences and different ways of working. It financial gains of course for a short period of time from my reduction in hours and lets not kid ourselves that these are really good motivations for allowing this in the current climate.

It also benefits because it allows me personally to experience new opportunities, new challenges that I’d perhaps not get access to in my organisation. It can also benefit from my experience of new projects in advance of when the council may choose to move forward, so the organisational learning is reduced.  This was and still is the motivation behind my voluntary work and involvement, however voluntary work can be limited in terms of quite in-depth experience in some places.

There are a wide range of benefits all round and if more people in the sector were given these short-term opportunities and then welcomed back into their councils, then local government would be better off for it.  After all the sector as a whole needs to think differently about how we manage people, how we retain quality people and inspire a new generation of local government and public sector workers.

What are you looking forward to most?

Listening to the speakers and being inspired, meeting new people and making new connections – after all It is people who really make the difference.

Announcing Open Space South West #OpenSSW

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For those of you who have seen the UKGovCamp Grants website, you may have noticed that there was an event called Open Space South West that I put a bid in for and luckily I was one of the many events to get some financial support – So right up front I’d like to thank Steph and Dave and those organisations who helped create the pot of money in the first place.

It was originally down as South West Local Gov Camp – but I wanted to do something a little different to try to reach a slightly different and more diverse audience.

So it will be different to the usual govcamp events, therefore it is called Open Space South West instead – simple as that :)

I’ve put in some basic details below, whilst I get a website sorted in the next couple of weeks which will have links to the tickets and speaker details (yes some speakers).

Open Space South West – the hashtag = #OpenSSW

Date – Friday 14th September

How is it different to a GovCamp event?
Some of the key differences are:

  • It is a Friday (yes a work day) – the 14th September to be precise – 9.30am – 5pm
  • It will be at Coaver Conference Centre, County Hall, Exeter.
  • It will have some speakers who will be providing a 15 minute inspiration/challenge
  • It will have a delegate contract

Some more details on the delegate contract
As a delegate my commitment is to turn up, listen, challenge, participate and take responsibility for my own personal learning and development outcomes and to share my learning openly via the event or other linked website(s).

Partners / Supporters / Sponsors

If you would like to provide support then get in touch via the comments – Specifically I’d welcome contributions towards getting additional wifi sorted (£800) in return you get your logo on the wifi login screen and I’d also welcome some additional contributions towards lunch and refreshments.

There isn’t as of yet any informal “night before” or” after event” activities planned, but again if anyone wishes to make some contributions towards those that would be very welcome – again get in touch via comments or direct message me on twitter.

I’m not planning at this stage to have free gifts,  t-shirts or goodie bags but I’m open to offers if someone wishes to help with this?

The following organisations are already providing support in various ways – so a BIG thank you to them.


#DCCSMF – The return of the DCC Social Media Forum

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One of the first things I put on my to-do list when I became Digital Communications Manager, was to restart and refocus the DCC Social Media Forum.  The last one was over 2 years ago and one of the last things discussed was opening it up to our public sector family across Devon…So that is what I have done.

Friday 7th October is the  DCC Social Media Forum and there is over 75 people from across the county council and our public sector colleagues – and not just the usual suspects which is a success in its own right…

We have operational staff and Heads of Service in attendance from across a range of services including Highways,  Customer Services, ICT, Emergency Planning, Communication, Trading Standards, Workforce Development, Audit, Information Management and colleagues from our District Councils, Unitary Councils plus Cornwall Council, Devon & Somerset Fire,  Devon & Cornwall Police, Met Office and even the MoD, which is absolutely fantastic and I’m personally very grateful to all the people who are coming for taking the time out of their busy schedules to come together and share, connect, challenge and inspire one another.

The agenda is split into two parts…a set of 20 minute shared learning sessions on the following topics:

  • Open and Linked Data
  • QR codes
  • Social Media Campaigns
  • FOI and twitter
  • The internal use of Social networking tools
  • Nurturing Online Communities
  • Crisis Communications
  • Social Media Risk Assessment
And the second part of the day will be a set of 20 minute discussion/challenge sessions on the above topics or whatever people feel inspired to talk about.
One of the challenges in organising this is that I had to actually turn people away due to space restriction, but it does fill me with confidence that a SouthWestLocaGovCamp event on a week day would be a huge success….so will have to come back to that in the spring…as I kind of see the two blurring together…
Anyway, I’m not sure how many people will tweet during the event but if they do the hashtag is #DCCSMF.
I just hope that it actually meets people’s expectations and is a success…