Reflecting on thinking and doing

Think DifferentRecently I’ve let myself down by not blogging as much as i feel i need to. The benefit i get from writing a post is actually a process of reflective practice which helps me manage the variety of thoughts going on in my head and i really do need to continue my personal commitment to write regularly as i simply don’t feel effective without having that process help clarify my thoughts.

Some of the things that have been preoccupying my head space (other than the detail of the day to day work which is extremely interesting and busy and the financial challenges which face all services) is around thinking different and doing different.

Do Different

It has been a personal target of mine since before Christmas, triggered from a coaching session I had that i need to make more efforts to understand the relevance of things like digital in relation to the councils services than i had previously been doing and also moving away from simply encouraging people to think differently about digital to actually doing different things with or without digital.

The last couple of weeks have really helped galvanise and challenge some of the thoughts in my head and really challenged my thinking and my approach to thinking (if that makes sense)

The week before last I was inspired by a video which was shared by Dr Andrea Siodmok at our Corporate Leadership team event – The video was Piano Stairs

Also last week I was part of a 3 day systems thinking orientation session with our Highways colleagues and gained a huge insight into the world of highways (more than i expected) but It was an interesting and fun three days.

These two things plus a range of smaller, somewhat random things have made me identify some important lessons…some are super obvious and probably everyone will say…”what you didn’t know that – duh!!

Lesson Number 1:  Don’t over evangelise.

What I mean by this is don’t push stuff down peoples throats – I would probably say I used to do this and some people may say I still do – But I’ve tried hard to change that without losing the things people have said they value (energy, fun, enthusiasm) But unmanaged you can end up putting people off and disconnecting them from the potential benefits of even the most simple of steps and actions.

This is also one of the reasons I wanted to focus on relevance as opposed to simply saying “digital is awesome, we should do digital, heh, lets put some digital in and everything will be cool”…”oh and have you seen this awesome thing, it is soooo cool, you should try this, i find it really easy, you will too” I hope I don’t sound like this but appreciate and acknowledge that I may have done in the past.

Lesson Number 2: Give people space to digest change

When people see a change, it can be difficult to digest the scale of what is required, especially if the scale of change is radical. Give them space and support them, don’t force your thinking on to them as they will need to discover the new paradigm for themselves. It is more powerful and lasting this way.

Lesson Number 3 : Relevance is about conversations

You can’t see or identify relevance in isolation from what is happening. You have to talk with people, understand what is happening, where things are going, the opportunities, the challenges and then make sense of this before throwing random ideas in a conversation to seem clever.

Lesson Number 4: Influence is about conversations

Most of the influence I’ve had on the organisation has been through having conversations with the right people and the right time. When those conversations happen with more and more senior people the influence expands and grows. We should try harder to have the right conversations with the right people and we can “hope” it is the right time.

Lesson Number 5: Listening is about being silent

This is something that I’ve learned more and more as part of my leadership course and coaching sessions. The power of being silent and allow people the time and space to reflect in the moment is very powerful. It is sometimes hard to resist simply not jumping in with an idea, an answer or a solution. Allowing someone the space to find the solution/answer them self is a far richer experience.

 

 

Come and work in Devon

I’ve just posted some details about a job opportunity over on Re:Work Digital – we are looking for a Public Information and Creative Service Manager who can lead the delivery and development our new approach to public information and access.

A snippet from the post about what we expect the post and person to do:

We are looking for someone who is proactive, collaborative and focused and who understands the challenges and opportunities around public information and access.

You could play a leading role in challenging our thinking, our approach and enabling us to deliver high quality public information for users so they can self help across a range of channels. This will include the web, digital platforms and other formats where appropriate.

You could shape our approach to reducing demand across services through enabling self service options.

You will need to champion our commitment to being open by default and digital by design.

You will lead and shape our approach to being data and user driven to ensure we delivery high quality outputs and products.

Is this You? if you are interested get in touch with me via twitter, email (carl.haggerty@devon.gov.uk) or phone 01392 383000 (ask for me by name).

Check out the job description / person spec and or apply online

 

 

Looking to the future – A 30 year prediction

Back in December the LGiU published an interesting document looking at how local government might look in 2043 to coincide with their 30 year anniversary titled “The Future Town Hall“. It is full of very interesting predictions, hopes and aspirations for the future and I’d recommend reading it.

I thought I would write my very own prediction here as a virtual contributor to the publication.

In 2043 I’ll be 67 and most likely still working, probably still sharing random nonsense and I’ll probably have some kind of internet connection built into my body or at least on my body, integrated into my clothing providing me with up to the second information about my health, wellbeing, finances, activity, my appointments, work, and my friends and family’s activities.

My kids already grow impatient when the playstation, Wii, or laptop shows a “loading” sign…the ever increasing expectations, always on, multi-device, multi-connected world we already inhabit is likely to change the way we live, work and see ourselves to such a point that we will have to revisit what it means to receive and fund local services

If the demands and expectations of my kids are anything to go by, then these predictions are not far fetched or even radical enough to meet the potential demands in the future, when I was a kid I grew up waiting over 90 minutes for manic miner to load on a ZX spectrum and was in awe of the 8bit world even though it didn’t always load or work – As a citizen of 2014 I simply want something that works and is reliable…in 2043 I will demand more (rightly or wrongly), I’ll want something very personalised, very responsive and always on…I will want to decide when I switch off and most of all I will want ownership of my data.

I say this because all these things will have a profound impact on local services and local governance as the one thing I will say is that if local government is to have a future it needs to stay connected with local people and local places to stay relevant, even if this means reinventing itself.

First and foremost I see the purpose of local government being about one thing and one thing only. The Health and Wellbeing of people in its communities. Everything else is secondary and an added value.

I’m going to consider the future in relation to the following three areas of local government as I see it.
1) local government (local services and commissioning)
2) local authority (planning and strategic influence)
3) local council (accountability and decision making)

1) When it comes to local government and local public services, the data that I’m collecting will be mine and available only to those I choose. I will give permission to local providers of services to access relevant data sets to help me make informed choices around the services to ensure I stay active, healthy and in work. I will see the service providers as partners, enabling and supporting me and my family.

2) In relation to strategic influence and planning in the local area I live and the communities of interest I participate and belong to. The local authority will have a key role in ensuring that key infrastructure projects are pushed forward, that the area I live is championed on a National, European and Global scale, however I don’t see the same structures existing, I suspect and hope that this will be a mix of hyper local and sub regional activity as local places redefine their strengths and explore the global potential of the social capital that exists to support health and Wellbeing.

3) From a local council and a democratic perspective the ever connected citizen will demand more and more openness and transparency and will want more of a say on a range of issues. This would likely be facilitated through some kind of online micro participation / engagement platform where I connect my identity and choose to associate a range of personas and identities to allow me to vote, contribute or debate Local, National, European or International issues.

On winning

Last night I had the honour of being announced winner of the Guardian Public Services – Leadership Excellence Award.

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We were informed the results were close and I was blown away when my name was announced. In fact shocked – I literally couldn’t believe that I had managed to win through a public vote. A special thanks has to go to Dan Slee who started a campaign and was relentless in encouraging people to vote for me.

I would also like to thank everyone who took the time to vote, not just for me but for the other incredible short listed candidates.

I was fortunate to be able to share the moment and evening with my wife Sharon who always provides incredible support and encourages me to grow.

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I was also able to share the moment with Councillor Barry Parsons (Devon County Councillor and Cabinet Member for Performance and Engagement). It was great to get another opportunity to help raise the profile of being open by default and digital by design to local councillors.

I want to thank the members of the public leaders editorial board who nominated me and I managed to actually meet some of the board at the awards which was great.

There are so many individuals who have helped challenge my thinking and shaped my leadership skills over the years. But the following people deserve to get a special mention as some of the biggest contributors to who I am today.

In the council:
Tony Parker
My team (Russell, Sam, Matt, Tim, Patrick and Lore)
Sam Hill
Martin Howitt
Sara Cretney
Simon Kitchen
Pip Tucker
John Smith
Richard Carter
Michael Beechener

From outside the council
Dave Briggs
Dominic Campbell
Carrie Bishop
Mike Saunby
Sarah Lay
Sarah Jennings
Carl Whistlecraft
Dave McKenna
Catherine Howe
Andrea Siodmok
Anthony Zacharzewski
George Julian
Simon Gough
Phillippa Rose
Mark Cotton
Nick Hill
Dan Slee
Hadley Beeman
Jeremy Gould
Julie Hawker

Thank you – I very much value your insights, challenge and conversations. You may not know it but you are all an inspiration to me.

I also want to acknowledge the other short listed candidates as I admire them all and have huge respect for what they have and continue to achieve and I just hope that I can do them and myself proud moving forward.

I particularly want to acknowledge Mike Bracken – executive director of digital, cabinet office who has had a huge impact on the digital space in the public sector – for that I must thank him as it has made my job a little easier.

Whilst I recognise the relationship between local and central government isn’t always a happy and productive affair – Mike’s vision and leadership has had a huge positive and constructive disruption on local government and me personally. I’d love to have a conversation and hopefully work with Mike on how we can bridge that gap and look at how the relationship, skills and approaches can be developed an extended across local and central government.

Another thing to celebrate is that Devon actually won two awards last night, who said Devon wasn’t a hub of innovation 🙂 The Northern Devon NHS Trust won the Partnership Excellence award – we were championing Devon and were absorbing the ambiance of the fantastic venue right to the very end.

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Finally I’m so proud to be representing local government and all those who work tirelessly to improve people’s lives.

We all do amazing work and we should all find the courage to stand up for those people and communities we serve.

THANK YOU

#localgovdigital – Content Standards in Beta

LocalGov Digital logo

[This post has also been published on the Web Managers Group Blog]

Last week LocalGov Digital launched its Digital Content Standard, a carefully crafted first draft – or beta version – and a free resource for local government web and content managers. It supports the group’s overarching principle of encouraging the sector to be open by default and digital by design.

This standard is intended to evolve and adapt to continually meet the needs of the sector as well as raising the aspirations around digital content and services generally.

The standard was a collaborative effort led by LocalGov Digital Steering Group members and has been compiled using a selection of existing guides from the UK and from across the world.

The document has been created in such a way that we hope it can simply be adopted by local councils without too much trouble. In Devon we have adopted them although we recognise that we are likely to need a supplement to allow the local variations and subtle style differences which we have established here.

From a personal point of view the whole document is hugely valuable but you can make sizeable gains from simply getting your existing content authors to consider the following golden rule.

Is the information you’re presenting to the public necessary, readable, original, easy to find and well-presented?

In a checklist:

  • Is the content answering a question that our customers are asking?
  • Is your content easy-to-read and understandable to a layperson?
  • Is the content original?
  • Can the content be found using search words that make sense to the customer?
  • Are graphics and pictures appropriate and do they add something to the page?

I’m sure that there will be many ways we could improve the standards and we would encourage people to comment, contribute and be part of the wider LocalGov Digital network to help raise standards in web and digital across the public sector.

For more information about the Digital Content Standard see this post. You can also download the Digital Content Standard PDF file.

For the latest and to talk with the group follow us on Twitter @localgovdigital, join the KHub group or connect via our G+ Community.