Networked decision makers

I make no apologies that probably the majority of my future posts will be linked to explaining and exploring in more detail the Digital Framework for Local Public Services.

So this post is focusing on some of the middle area of the picture…in particular the box around leadership and decision-making. This part of the journey is critical not just in a wider context of leadership and decision-making but in ensuring that we have open and transparent local decision-making as well as a clear accountability in terms of local representation.

Digital Climate for Local Public Services Framework v2

To recap I previously explained this area in this way:

Leadership/Decision Making
We require strong visible leadership to enable transformation and strong decisions that ensure that we all contribute to creating a climate for growth and wellbeing. The leadership can also come from anywhere not just local public service providers
Capacity Building / Networks and Networks of Networks
Stimulating local action and identifying and connecting with networks and networks of networks to generate and create new opportunities and markets.
These connections can and will come from anywhere, this is not solely down to the council or local authority – this is about people and places.

Now all this is easy to write and even easier to say, but the practical implications of this are slightly more complicated and require a shift in thinking about what we should expect of our future leaders and decision makers and how we help those people become networked and connected.

Now the great thing about the internet is that you can always find and connect to people who are in a far better position to dig deeper into the thinking and that is exactly what Catherine Howe has done in relation to the Networked Councillors project. It came out of two things:

  • If we are going to have more networked and digital citizens we are going to need politicians with the right skills – we will need networked councillors but we have not yet really explored what that means

  • Just showing people how to use twitter doesn’t solve the problem

I’m really pleased that Catherine has shared this work as I personally think it validates the wider framework and also adds a layer of detail which I was obviously lacking (on purpose of course)

The report on the website is well worth a read and is easy to digest.

I want to pick out another quote form the report which to me helps to proactively link this to the wider framework and the language of the framework which is:

The qualities that the Networked Councillor should embody are found in the way in which Next Generation Users are approaching and using technology. We suggest that the following qualities, which can already be evidenced online, will be inherent:

  • Open by default: This is open not just in terms of information but also in terms of thinking and decision-making

  • Digitally native: Networked Councillors will be native in or comfortable with the online space, not in terms of age but in terms of the individual adopting the behaviours and social norms of the digital culture

  • Co–productive: Co-production is a way of describing the relationship between Citizen and State which brings with it an expectation that everyone in the conversation has power to act and the potential to be active in the outcome as well as the decision-making process

  • Networked: A Networked Councillor will be able to be effective via networked as well as hierarchical power as a leader

This is obviously one part of a wider complex environment and although this report is focused on councillors specifically it also applies itself to future leaders and decisions makers whether a local councillor or not….however for me this is a fantastic start to the discussion and conversation.


Chairing the Steering Group for #LocalGov Digital

Some people many have noticed a few random tweets last week around LocalGov Digital.

I am pretty chuffed to say that I was elected Chair of the Steering Group for LocalGov Digital for at least the next 12 months 🙂

WTF is LocalGov Digital I hear you ask?

That is a good question and more will come in the coming weeks but essentially this is what we are about:

We are a practitioner network created and functioning in the spirit of local government’s sector-led improvement agenda.

Our overarching purpose is to raise standards in web provision and the use of digital by councils across the country, and to create a digital framework that is flexible enough to respond to local needs.

We exist to support improvement strategies in the delivery of services so that local government can be efficient, productive and serve local needs.

Our belief is that an overarching and fundamental principle is that local government is and should be ‘open by default and digital by design’.

At the centre is a steering group which connects the wider network with national bodies such as the Local Government association (LGA), government departments and other partners involved in improving how services are delivered to citizens.

Where on earth did LocalGov Digital come from?

A group of passionate local gov folk who felt that if we didn’t doing something ourselves and we didn’t start pulling our thinking together and start to coordinate our efforts better we would probably look back in a few years time and wonder why we didn’t do anything to help ourselves as something we didn’t like or want was being done to us.  So it came about because no one else was doing anything and we felt we needed to have something.

The involvement of the LGA also meant that we could get the group formalised and the initial members of the steering group could be formally asked to participate via the current employers. In my case a letter was sent to my Chief Executive asking for my involvement in the steering group and was met very positively, which was reassuring.

What next?

Well to be honest, a lot of hard work and collaborating to start delivering some early outputs and also getting a web presence out there and a public group to help facilitate collaboration across the sector as well as others.

I’ll be writing again soon about what i think i can bring to the group and what I think the role of chair means in the coming year…but for now if you want to get connected follow #localgovdigital on twitter.