Getting together to crack problems is always good, as the Government Communications Service showed when they staged an event in Manchester.
by Graham Millward
On a cold Monday in early November, 80 or so government communicators met in Manchester. The reason – a Government Communication Service (GCS) event for communicators in the north. What a great bunch of people with masses of experience from across departments and agencies. A free event, but definitely no such thing as a free lunch!
The day was designed to be interactive, from table discussions on high level GCS developments, down to local engagement. And then, with Dan Slee’s expertise, 15 unconference sessions took over the afternoon. Sessions ranged from digital channel development to face to face engagement, even one on poetry.
Anecdotal feedback was positive, and as one of the organisers, I felt the day provided a worthwhile experience for the people who participated. It’s good to see that efforts put in by our small organising group get rewarded by the positive buzz and enthusiasm amongst people in the room.
What did I learn from the day? Here are few thoughts:
· Allow plenty of time for planning an event, and develop it by finding out what people want – we did – we looked back at feedback from the previous event and picked out recent developments that people were talking about.
· Unconference is good. A few people felt uncertain as to if it would work. It did, and it’s a great way to get everyone involved in the day. Having a wide range of topics meant there was something for everyone.
· Think practical – sessions that give people the opportunity to do something rather than listen and talk would be great next time.
· Check the technology. We had a range of laptops and tablets set out to get all the presentation material on screen. If only there was a single cross-government IT system that meant compatibility wasn’t an issue – now there’s a project to work on!
Overall, a great day, and the demand’s there for this type of event. I suppose we better start thinking about the next one!
Graham Millward is research and insight in the Department of Work and Pensions. He helped co-ordinate the GCS event.