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 ( or phone 01392 383000 (ask for me by name).

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




Beware the labels you apply to yourself

Earlier today I went to a meeting in my capacity as a school governor and like you do in meetings where you’ve never met people before you often introduce yourself and explain a bit about your background and skills etc.

Well I broadly introduce myself as someone who is interested in Social Change but works (in a professional sense) in and around the areas of Web, Communications and ICT as well as social enterprise business models and I’d like to help my school and the wider learning community improve outcomes for children – nothing too complicated but saves me going on an on about what I believe in…wouldn’t want to bore people I’ve not really met yet, plus we were limited for time.

It was a very interesting meeting and had a very wide range of skills and interests in the room from Head Teachers (Primary and Secondary) to School Administrators to Solicitors to Architects to Procurement people and well me!!

The first thing that made me chuckle and got me thinking about the label I had given myself was that the projector didn’t work  – so one person commented “ask the IT guy!” Well obviously I got up and pushed some buttons and looked like I knew what I was doing but it was someone behind me who actually turned the plug off and then on again which actually resolved the problem – that old chestnut!

But what I found interesting about this was the assumption that I knew how to fix it, just because I said I was interested in ICT meant I knew how to fix projectors  to other people 🙂  ICT is a very big domain and most (not all) people think it is all pretty much the same…

The funny thing about this to me, is that I do not consider myself an IT guy, however that is informed by my interaction with far more technically gifted people than I, but sometimes (and generally too late to change anything) I forget that simply saying IT to most people means that you can fix the computer, as well as probably being able to build one, fix the projector and sort out the broadband or wi-fi problems as well….Lesson learned and note to self: change my introduction and be more specific when describing my interests.

However I will get my chance to contribute in an area I feel confident in as I was the obvious first choice for a sub group around communications and websites.

So not all bad….but I fear that I will become the “IT go to guy” from now on…





Experience: The Blog: When Personalization Gets Creepy

This is an interesting blog post, which carries on the discussion about how effective personalisation and does it work?

Perhaps we need to work out what personalisation really means within local government, if you read this and then play a scenario of a resident, in the context of the Government losing more personal data, i guess it could become worrying or even concerning to think “who actually has access to my information”.

Gerry McGovern’s point about just getting the tasks right and ensuring that people can do what they came to do quickly. For me personalisation has a sliding scale and we need to get the balance right

I particularly like this quote from the blog which highlights some research from University of Illinois

Perhaps the most interesting finding is that the degree of personalization didn’t matter; it was the value to the consumer that mattered the most! Says White, “If the offer was valuable and justified, the level of personal information didn’t matter. Firms were no better off for throwing all of your personal information at you.”

Should Web and ICT be the same

Paul Canning has posted an excellent and interesting post on whether the web and ICT should be the same, or at least be managed within the ICT function.  Dave Briggs also posted on the subject and supports Paul’s View.

I have a slightly different view and one which perhaps works in larger organisations (after all i work in a large county council)

  • Paul says:
    Web skills are very specific, you need to be across a lot of terrain. You need to understand SEO, usability, web content, have good people skills, be across various and ever changing IT, visual design, accessibility, marketing, PR … Even the very best IT managers don’t have this skill range so they can’t make informed decisions or informed choices across the range of issues which constitute good and most importantly successful web.
  • Dave comments:
    Indeed, I would add a couple of bits to Paul’s list about webbies needing to be excellent communicators, and maybe a real interest in policy is important too.

I would like to add the following view to this discussion.

Whilst i support some aspects of what Paul suggests which is i don’t think that ICT should manage and run the web as a whole, the skills required are far beyond traditional ICT departments.

However i believe that the web should be mainstreamed into the whole organisation and ICT are a key enabler in that process.  I also believe that corporate web managers will no longer be required in the format they are currently employed becuase of the same reasons ICT are not the best people to manage it.  I don’t think one single person can be responsible for all the areas that are now required to manage and maintain and effective web channel within local government.

I believe that it is essential and the only sustainable way to mainstream the web if that the right areas of the business manage there expertise area.  It is also worth including that sitting above this you need strong governance process and systems to ensure that this actually functions strategically and operationally.

My previous post “do we really need web managers” highlights some of the main areas that web managers would be expected to be responsible for, i have included them below with some additional context

  • Technology and Innovation – we are perhaps fortunate that our corporate ICT function has a team of Enterprise Architects who are there to look at the strategic business architecture which would include the web, but also looks at the latest innovations and how they can support and deliver business benefits, web 2.0 is one area that this team will look at. This woudl also include policy at a strategic level, but each area would include policy aspects which would need interlinking
    In terms of operational web development, this is provided by our in-house development team who do the actual programming etc.
  • Content (text, image, video, audio etc) – for me this the bread and butter of websites and is mostly driven by communications and marketing people across the council, but also involves web editors and publishers. what we need here though is a content strategy which highlights all content amd which channel it needs to be delivered to. This is wider than just websites
  • Information Management (SEO, metadata and taxonomy) – we are again fortunate perhaps to ahve a strategic intelligence unit who are the experst in this filed and in effect act as information architects. We also have a tool which helps us tag our pages with correct metadata and contributes to the taxonomy management
  • Services (what people come to do – the tasks!) – this has been the drive of eGovernment for the last few years and continues to be the main focus of websites now, but it driven by customer services and service managers looking to provide alternative channel of access for services. But we need to put the right service in the right channel if they are to be used.
  • Design/usability – a visual framework by which people navigate, search and perform information and search requests. This is a design function and in terms of framework is easy to manage but overall design needs to compliment the organisational brand, a communications and marketing role.
  • Marketing/Communications – a critical aspect of local government websites but not really exploited to the degree it should be. you need users to enage online to achieve the claimed efficiences that are bounded about by many people.

One last thought is that the original post by Paul cited Richard Steele, SOCITM’s President as stating ICT should run the lot, well to be honest i think this is a narrow and flawed view and that the only way to move forward is as an organisation, which collectively uses the web as any other channel.