I am desperately sad to hear of the passing of Charles Agnew.

During my time in Government, Charles was the CTO, CIO and continuous presence pushing digital Government at the Department of International Development (DfID)

An exemplary public servant, Charles was one of the biggest supporters of digital transformation, and developed an excellent team, often shielding them from bureaucratic interference while leading on pioneering partnerships.

His worked pre-dated GDS. He was one of the Government leaders who got the possibilities of the Internet and its power to improve the lives of everyone using Government services.

In recent times, Charles led the DfID team behind some outstanding work and partnerships, including the DfID aid information platform and pioneering use of open data. Charles was always ready to work with Internet-era experts and readily embraced digital change. He was also wise counsel on many occasions, and understood that cross government collaboration and sharing were the most important behaviour in providing great public services.

In my time in Government, the DfID team including John Adams and Julia Chandler were able, largely through his support, to be one of the most pioneering in Government. He was an outstanding colleague, and Government is a poorer place without him. He will be sadly missed, and all my thoughts are with his wife Sarah and family.

Original source – Mike Bracken

Five young people are walking slowly in front of me.  The youngest might be 10 or 11. The oldest maybe 14.  At each parked car, and there are many, they try the door handles without breaking step. Catching sight of me they pause silently at the corner shop and wait for me to pass. They don’t go in.  There is no hurry. They have nothing to do.

These kids aren’t on a mission.  They are idle and bored.  For the sake of their young lives as much as for the residents of Canning Town we must hope that nothing has been left unlocked on this hot afternoon. It is easier to make an insurance claim than it is to start adult life with a criminal record.

Later I will look randomly through old annual reports. I will check my memory. 20 years ago, in 1996, we were running 80 holiday play schemes open to all and offering more than 100,000 child day places. In the summer of ‘97, 2200 young people enjoyed a Community Links camping holiday – mostly in Epping Forest but some as far away as Scotland, Wales and even climbing in the Alps. Under the inspired leadership of Kevin Jenkins, now Community Links life president, we were touching the lives of generations for more than 30 years. Other organisations were doing similar good work on a smaller scale.   None of it was rocket science but it was constructive activity, it didn’t cost much, it built relationships and it kept children out of trouble.

Today across East London there is no more than a scattering of voluntary holiday programmes, mostly offering specialist provision. The larger number of commercial care schemes may be okay for the parents who can afford them, but they are expensive and out of reach for most of the families we know. The big, open community play scheme has very largely disappeared along with the statutory grants that paid for it.

Local councils spent £1.2bn on youth work in 2010/11 but, according to the British Youth Council this had fallen to £712m by 2013/14 – a drop of almost 40%  across the UK. The top line number is bad enough but it is worse on the ground because the cuts are disproportionately focused on those embattled authorities, like Newham, which have suffered most from successive and heavy reductions in their government settlement.

This is the harsh and mindless edge of austerity.  Holiday schemes were constructive, effective, fun, cheap and life enhancing.  The alternatives for young people like those in front of me today are none of the above.

Times change and organisations must change too. Community Links  moves positively in new directions but we would like to think that when we stop doing something it is either because the job has been completed or because someone else has found a better way of doing it. I realise with a heavy heart that neither apply in this situation.

Original source – linksUK

IMG_20160824_133303

The key to making our work in Common Technology Services (CTS) a success is collaboration.  We are in the process of building relationships with all government departments to understand the technology needs out there and the opportunities to share experience, services and knowledge.

We want to help get technology right for all government workers and we want to hear from you on the technological issues you face and opportunities to improve them.

Delivering on the front line

I’ve been fortunate to have spent the majority of my Civil Service career working in front line delivery. Every team has had the same things in common: a desire to deliver excellent customer service and support the transformation of government services.

Like many of you, I know first-hand the difference that IT can make in how you deliver your work. We’ve all had days where we want to kick the printer that has jammed mid print, times when we want to throw a coffee cup at the monitor and moments when you just sit and wonder how difficult it can actually be to share a document with a colleague in another department or arrange a meeting with someone not in the same building as you.

Looking inwards

Over the last 4 years we’ve seen how GDS has supported departments to transform the way in which citizens interact with government, and GOV.UK has changed the face of government online with more services that are quick and easy to access.

The GDS vision is to help departments work together to transform government. Providing government workers with the right tools will play a big part in changing the relationship between the citizen and the state. So while we’ve already helped the Cabinet Office and the Northern Ireland Office, it’s time to do more and help the c450,000 civil servants who deserve IT at least as good as they have at home.

Better IT that will drive efficiency, accuracy and innovation. And relationships with suppliers that give the right solutions at the right cost.

Find the boundary and jump it

We know that if we want to improve technology across government we need to understand what we’ve already got. Lots of people are already creating solutions that could solve common IT issues across government. Looking beyond our boundaries and engaging is the way to discover what’s out there, what  best practice looks like, pull it together, and help to shape and share it.

Working with departments is central to the work of GDS and CTS. Collaboration isn’t just a priority, it’s the underlying principle of our approach to transforming technology in government. We want to know how we can support colleagues: what their needs are, the expertise they have and the direction they want to go in. We’ll ask for support, input, where we can add value and then we’ll deliver together.

Keeping good company

Over the next few months we’ll be meeting Chief Technology Officers and their teams to understand where their technology challenges lie, where their expertise sits and where they think CTS can help them transform their technology.

We want to work with them to get an initial picture of their technical, contract and change landscapes to help everyone across government understand where commonality exists and where the opportunities to collaborate are.

We’ll share the guidelines for common technology that we have already created and have been signed off by the Technology Leaders Network. We’ll also share our user research on cross government profiles: a key insight that is helping us understand user needs and technology solutions. As well as learning from the user research already happening across departments.

Communities of interest

We want to build on the technology communities that already exist across government and create new ones to drive, shape and deliver technology transformation.

These communities will be supported by CTS, but owned by the communities themselves, and led by the experts who are best placed to develop the community. These communities will be an opportunity to share knowledge, best practice and build networks, as well as influence the CTS agenda and policy.

Get these communities right and we’ll build a far better understanding of your key issues, and get departmental input into products. They can also help develop champions to lead change within departments.

Some communities such as ‘safe and filtered internet’ and ‘identity’ are already in place, some, such as ‘user research personas’ are in development and others such as ‘end user compute’ and ‘contract exit’ are being planned. They’ll be the opportunity for like minded people facing similar issues to come together and create the right solutions.

Backing you

We are here to help departments provide consistent, transparent and simple technology that allows teams across the public sector deliver excellent public services. It’s ambitious, but it is achievable. As Iain Patterson set out in his blog: A new approach to Common Technology Services, with collaboration and the combined expertise of government we can make it happen.

By getting out there, really understanding your needs, identifying where we can add real value and by providing direction and focus to those of you facing these challenges everyday, we have the opportunity to transform the technical landscape for civil servants. Civil servants who are out on the front line, delivering services to citizens and who deserve technology that supports them rather than making them want to throw their computer out of the window and head for the door.

Where do you think we can help? We’d love to hear about the opportunities to get our technology right and also where you’ve got really good solutions to technology problems that we’re all experiencing across government.

You can find out more about the work of Common Technology Services on our group page or get in touch with us.

Original source – Government technology

IMG_20160824_133303

The key to making our work in Common Technology Services (CTS) a success is collaboration.  We are in the process of building relationships with all government departments to understand the technology needs out there and the opportunities to share experience, services and knowledge.

We want to help get technology right for all government workers and we want to hear from you on the technological issues you face and opportunities to improve them.

Delivering on the front line

I’ve been fortunate to have spent the majority of my Civil Service career working in front line delivery. Every team has had the same things in common: a desire to deliver excellent customer service and support the transformation of government services.

Like many of you, I know first-hand the difference that IT can make in how you deliver your work. We’ve all had days where we want to kick the printer that has jammed mid print, times when we want to throw a coffee cup at the monitor and moments when you just sit and wonder how difficult it can actually be to share a document with a colleague in another department or arrange a meeting with someone not in the same building as you.

Looking inwards

Over the last 4 years we’ve seen how GDS has supported departments to transform the way in which citizens interact with government, and GOV.UK has changed the face of government online with more services that are quick and easy to access.

The GDS vision is to help departments work together to transform government. Providing government workers with the right tools will play a big part in changing the relationship between the citizen and the state. So while we’ve already helped the Cabinet Office and the Northern Ireland Office, it’s time to do more and help the c450,000 civil servants who deserve IT at least as good as they have at home.

Better IT that will drive efficiency, accuracy and innovation. And relationships with suppliers that give the right solutions at the right cost.

Find the boundary and jump it

We know that if we want to improve technology across government we need to understand what we’ve already got. Lots of people are already creating solutions that could solve common IT issues across government. Looking beyond our boundaries and engaging is the way to discover what’s out there, what  best practice looks like, pull it together, and help to shape and share it.

Working with departments is central to the work of GDS and CTS. Collaboration isn’t just a priority, it’s the underlying principle of our approach to transforming technology in government. We want to know how we can support colleagues: what their needs are, the expertise they have and the direction they want to go in. We’ll ask for support, input, where we can add value and then we’ll deliver together.

Keeping good company

Over the next few months we’ll be meeting Chief Technology Officers and their teams to understand where their technology challenges lie, where their expertise sits and where they think CTS can help them transform their technology.

We want to work with them to get an initial picture of their technical, contract and change landscapes to help everyone across government understand where commonality exists and where the opportunities to collaborate are.

We’ll share the guidelines for common technology that we have already created and have been signed off by the Technology Leaders Network. We’ll also share our user research on cross government profiles: a key insight that is helping us understand user needs and technology solutions. As well as learning from the user research already happening across departments.

Communities of interest

We want to build on the technology communities that already exist across government and create new ones to drive, shape and deliver technology transformation.

These communities will be supported by CTS, but owned by the communities themselves, and led by the experts who are best placed to develop the community. These communities will be an opportunity to share knowledge, best practice and build networks, as well as influence the CTS agenda and policy.

Get these communities right and we’ll build a far better understanding of your key issues, and get departmental input into products. They can also help develop champions to lead change within departments.

Some communities such as ‘safe and filtered internet’ and ‘identity’ are already in place, some, such as ‘user research personas’ are in development and others such as ‘end user compute’ and ‘contract exit’ are being planned. They’ll be the opportunity for like minded people facing similar issues to come together and create the right solutions.

Backing you

We are here to help departments provide consistent, transparent and simple technology that allows teams across the public sector deliver excellent public services. It’s ambitious, but it is achievable. As Iain Patterson set out in his blog: A new approach to Common Technology Services, with collaboration and the combined expertise of government we can make it happen.

By getting out there, really understanding your needs, identifying where we can add real value and by providing direction and focus to those of you facing these challenges everyday, we have the opportunity to transform the technical landscape for civil servants. Civil servants who are out on the front line, delivering services to citizens and who deserve technology that supports them rather than making them want to throw their computer out of the window and head for the door.

Where do you think we can help? We’d love to hear about the opportunities to get our technology right and also where you’ve got really good solutions to technology problems that we’re all experiencing across government.

You can find out more about the work of Common Technology Services on our group page or get in touch with us.

Original source – Government technology

There’s been a big emphasis in local government communications about trust.  But is there more to things than that?

by Mike Miller

For more than a decade communication strategies across Government and Local Government have had ‘build trust’ in big capital letters on strategies.

From recent polls on national politics or even my Twitter feed you would also be right in thinking that building trust quite rightly deserves to be front and centre.

In Cambridgeshire we strongly believe putting trust at the top misses the point – authorities need to go further. Trust is vital but the battle cry of ‘build trust!’ feels you are separate to the people you are trying to convince. Which of course is self-defeating, because acting as if we are somehow removed from our communities instantly makes it harder for them to relate to what we do.

Community designed practice is at the heart of our transformation and communications programme – our answer to the challenge of improving or even saving lives with less money.

Pollsters also say people fear national decision makers are somehow aloof from what is going on around them.

Being part of the community builds trust but building trust does not make you part of the community. You can still be leaders but you need to be community listeners too.

We are rethinking our communications and engagement – from changing the way we talk to people on social media to positioning our budget consultation as a challenge for Cambridgeshire not a council challenge.

We are taking a step beyond –‘trust me, we know what we are doing’ to ‘we are part of your community’ – your problems are our problems and our successes are your successes.

If you are part of the community, and act how the community would expect one of their own to act then trust comes from that.

This means eating humble pie – you may not have the answers and you might get it wrong. We have swallowed our pride and admitted to communities we have been coming at this the wrong way. Changing how we engage with communities over road safety.

Of course the tricky part is defining what a community is – is it geographical, is it the local knitting group or indeed the Minecraft group that meets online.

This approach has seen us changing how we work online, face to face and even what we stand for. We have taken some first positive steps in improving relationships with Parish Councils who are at the centre of many of their communities – looking at devolving funding, power as well as support to get the best outcome for our communities.

We won an MJ Award this year for Community Engagement that has had real world benefits in increasing volunteering and community cohesion as well as reducing isolation and improvinghealth outcomes.

Residents need to know they can trust us with sensitive information or deciding where a bridge is to be built. But they have to feel we are a champion for their community – we may not always get it right but we always do the best for them.

I admire two Cormacs in Local Government – Cormac Smith and Cormac Russell. Mr Smith rightly champions why trust should be now and continue to be at the heart of what we do. But I think Cormac Russell takes us onto the next stage. He talks of the role councils can play in:

“C rucially not just working with communities to ‘identify the problem’ or even to identify solutions – but to be the solution itself.”

Mark Miller is strategic communications, marketing, community engagement manager at Cambridgeshire County Council.

Picture credit: Galt Museum & Archives.

Original source – comms2point0 free online resource for creative comms people – comms2point0

Warning: This is a reflective post…i’ve had some time off and did some digging around my inner self?

“There is a moment when you take a step or two backwards and start to see the bigger picture, the full picture, the elephant so to speak and then you wait, your eyes refocus, your body adjusts and there in front of you is the biggest thing you’ve ever seen…it is a massive elephant…holy shit…how on earth did I not notice this given it’s size, presence and impact.”

I’ve worked in a local council now for 20 years (half of my life) and I’d like to think I’ve managed to avoid being completely institutionalised.

But it isn’t until you start a process of transforming yourself that you realise that some of the cultures/behaviours/traditions that you work hard to remove have found there way into your own life.

In that very moment I felt vulnerable, without purpose and most of all I started questioning everything I did and do.

I’ve blogged about these types of things on here before, not in as much detail as i’m now realising sits within me, but my reflective posts and my journey of coaching for example are starting points for me to build on.

It has all got me to a point in my life where I now need to truly transform who I am and prepare myself for my emerging future. It simply isn’t good enough for me to expect others to do this without pushing myself through the change also.

I read quite a bit of organisational type stuff more than I read fiction if i’m honest, I’m always keen to learn and push myself and I really enjoy reading peoples blog posts of their individual and organisational journeys. I always thought that my journey wouldn’t be as profound as it is starting to be though.

Growing up in a local council these are the things that struck me…

I learned to live with frustration.

I learned to live with pressure and stress.

I learned to live in a world that is disconnected.

I learned that failure is to be avoided.

I learned that authority is to be trusted.

I now need to unlearn all of this as it has held me back and is unhealthy

I’m learning to live with opportunity and creativity

I’m learning to live in harmony and find my personal wellbeing.

I’m learning that the world is and has always been connected and I’m connected to it at all levels.

I’m learning that failure is a process of learning.

I’m learning that everyone is to be trusted.

Most of all…

I’m learning to open my mind.

I’m learning to open my heart.

I’m learning to open my will.

I’m learning to see that the elephant has been created by everyone to protect themselves from fear.

All of the above may seem a bit random for some people and that is OK.

Everyone is on their own journey and everyone experiences different things in different ways. We need to celebrate and acknowledge that difference more…we focus too much on creating artificial barriers and boundaries which hinder us all from simply being human.

 

 

Filed under: Learning, Personal Tagged: ref

Original source – Carl’s Notepad

From left to right: Nazmin Hussain, Chloe Hook, Sophie Winter, Beverley Agyekum. Beverley Agyekum My week at the Institute for Government was extremely enlightening. I learned so much about the different parts of the organisation and how they work together as a whole to complete their main function, which is to focus on the machinery of government and come up with ways to improve it. Members of the research team told me not only about their individual roles, but also about how they came to join the Institute. This taught me to enjoy my journey along whichever career path that I end up on, and also to make sure that I study a degree that I am passionate about to maximise my chances of getting a good grade. The highlight of my experience was sitting in on a meeting to discuss how the Confederation of British Industry (CBI) and the Institute could collaborate on a project regarding Brexit. Having learned about the CBI as part of my A-Level in Politics, it was very interesting to get a real-life insight into one of their projects. I also enjoyed researching the effects of Brexit on various sectors such as energy and education. This […]

Original source – Institute for Government

Today, young people across England receive their GCSE results. Many will now be looking forward to the next exciting step in their education; for others, it may be a time for to reflect on what their options are and what they would like to do next. In these ‘moments of choice’, young people may seek information and support to help them make decisions. But will they find information online that can help them make good choices?

A new report by The Behavioural Insights Team (BIT) finds that although young people feel like they have access to all the careers information they might need, this is not translating to a generation of young people more informed than their predecessors about their options and the future of the labour market.

BIT was commissioned by the Careers and Enterprise Company to talk to young people about their future careers and aspirations, the resources they draw upon to make these decisions and the context in which these decisions occur. We conducted 43 interviews and five observations with young people aged 11-18 and careers guidance professionals (CGPs) in eleven schools and colleges across England. Our key findings are outlined below:

  • Online career advice is challenging to navigate. The information on the internet is dispersed across multiple sites, each offering different information in different ways. This contributes to some young people disengaging from the full range of available information.
  • Information is available, but not accessible. Despite young people saying that they have access to the information they want, we found their knowledge and awareness of careers was generally low, outdated and in some cases inaccurate.
  • Young people’s aspirations did not align with the direction of the job market. The young people we spoke to generally had a limited understanding of the breadth of opportunities in the jobs market. Even the most open and engaged young people demonstrated a low awareness of the range of potential careers open to them, particularly new jobs in emerging industries. Instead, we found that they aspired to jobs that were around when their parents and teachers were entering the workforce.
  • Career advice is often focused on ‘moments of choice’ when a young person is facing a decision that will set pathways or close down options. However, ‘moments of inspiration’ when young people are building an understanding of what types of jobs they would like to do, are arguably equally important.
  • In addition, career advice is often focused on ‘cold’ information such as long-term directions, salary and qualification requirements. Although young people told us they were interested in this information, what seemed to drive their preferences was ‘hot’ information that helped them develop a picture of what that job would be like for them.

Across the interviews, we noticed a number of behavioural biases which may influence how young people seek and use data to make informed choices. For example, ‘confirmation bias’ may cause young people to privilege information that supports their preconceptions, while ‘choice overload’ may mean that when a young person is presented with too many options they get overwhelmed and avoid the decision altogether.

These cognitive biases and mental shortcuts can move young people away from the more informed decisions that policymakers would ideally like them to make, both to ensure their successful transition into work, and to secure the future of the British economy. If a young person is not taking full advantage of the information available to them, they could miss out on opportunities.

Recently, there has been a strong drive towards increasing labour market information available to young people. We support this drive, but argue that instead of simply providing more information, a better approach may be to thoughtfully design the context in which young people seek careers information and make decisions. Our research suggests that supporting informed decisions depends more on the how and when of data provision than the what of the information provided.

In light of this, we propose that informed choice is best supported by information provision that:

  1. Understands where young people are coming from and their context in the moment that they are accessing the information;
  2. Is trustworthy;
  3. Is personal and meaningful to the individual seeking advice;
  4. Gives young people agency and is transparent about how their input preferences have led to the advice or information presented by the website;
  5. Structures information provision so that bigger decisions are broken down into smaller choice sets;
  6. Provides information when needed, rather than overloading young people with information that isn’t salient, relevant or useful to them at that time;
  7. Helps influencers (teachers, parents or carers, careers guidance professionals) give meaningful advice to young people; and
  8. Signposts actions.

This research sits alongside the substantial body of knowledge that already exists, both in academia and in the long experience of careers guidance professionals and sector bodies. We look forward to doing further work to build on the preliminary insights in this report, alongside other relevant partners within the education sector.

Original source – Behavioural Insights Team

It was one of the most successful sporting events Great Britain has ever seen. Almost 70 medals were won as the team finished in second place in the medals table. In a box seat working on the media operation was one comms person.

by Carol Austin

So I went to Rio.  To the Olympics.  OK not to compete but to work and I had a ball …

The last three weeks have flown by in a haze of gold, silver and bronze as I worked as a press officer for Team GB’s communications team in Rio.  Based at British House located in the beautiful Parque Lage overlooked by the towering Cristo Redentor (Christ the Redeemer), the stunning location was used by the British Olympic Association (BOA), Her Majesty’s Government and the Greater London Authority to entertain, host events and welcome athletes, their families and their friends.

My role was to facilitate and manage the media in British House and organise celebrations for medal winning athletes.

Demands on the athletes are high but equally the window of opportunity for promoting their sport, especially the lesser known sports, is a short one in the fast paced world in which we work. As a non-accredited venue we were able to help the non-rights holders with interviews providing the most stunning of backdrops.   BBC, ITV, Eurosport, Sky and several Brazilian TV channels all broadcast from British House during the Games. 

Medal winning athletes were welcomed with their own ‘medal moment’ in front of that day’s visitors to the House who included governing bodies of sports, business leaders, BOA patrons, visiting trade delegations as well as athletes with their nearest and dearest.

Following the celebration I accompanied the athlete through a plethora of media interviews balancing the needs of the media and the opportunity to promote the athlete, their sport and Team GB with their understandable wish to spend time with family and friends in the relaxing environment British House could offer. We created content for social media including live facebook interviews and live filming of the medal moments.

The rowing was in nearby Lagoa, so I helped out in its mixed zone – where the athletes meet the press – supporting Team GB’s rowers and ensuring the British press got their interviews as well as attending press conferences to supply quotes for follow up news stories.

Long days, hard work but incredibly rewarding I feel privileged to have contributed in a very small way to the amazing success of Team GB.

Carol Austin is a freelance communications professional who worked at the 2016 Rio Olympics for Team GB.

Original source – comms2point0 free online resource for creative comms people – comms2point0

It was one of the most successful sporting events Great Britain has ever seen. Almost 70 medals were won as the team finished in second place in the medals table. In a box seat working on the media operation was one comms person.

by Carol Austin

So I went to Rio.  To the Olympics.  OK not to compete but to work and I had a ball …

The last three weeks have flown by in a haze of gold, silver and bronze as I worked as a press officer for Team GB’s communications team in Rio.  Based at British House located in the beautiful Parque Lage overlooked by the towering Cristo Redentor (Christ the Redeemer), the stunning location was used by the British Olympic Association (BOA), Her Majesty’s Government and the Greater London Authority to entertain, host events and welcome athletes, their families and their friends.

My role was to facilitate and manage the media in British House and organise celebrations for medal winning athletes.

Demands on the athletes are high but equally the window of opportunity for promoting their sport, especially the lesser known sports, is a short one in the fast paced world in which we work. As a non-accredited venue we were able to help the non-rights holders with interviews providing the most stunning of backdrops.   BBC, ITV, Eurosport, Sky and several Brazilian TV channels all broadcast from British House during the Games. 

Medal winning athletes were welcomed with their own ‘medal moment’ in front of that day’s visitors to the House who included governing bodies of sports, business leaders, BOA patrons, visiting trade delegations as well as athletes with their nearest and dearest.

Following the celebration I accompanied the athlete through a plethora of media interviews balancing the needs of the media and the opportunity to promote the athlete, their sport and Team GB with their understandable wish to spend time with family and friends in the relaxing environment British House could offer. We created content for social media including live facebook interviews and live filming of the medal moments.

The rowing was in nearby Lagoa, so I helped out in its mixed zone – where the athletes meet the press – supporting Team GB’s rowers and ensuring the British press got their interviews as well as attending press conferences to supply quotes for follow up news stories.

Long days, hard work but incredibly rewarding I feel privileged to have contributed in a very small way to the amazing success of Team GB.

Carol Austin is a freelance communications professional who worked at the 2016 Rio Olympics for Team GB.

Original source – comms2point0 free online resource for creative comms people – comms2point0