At the end of July, I will be deployed from the Government Digital Service. Like much of the government digital estate that has come through GDS, I am being shipped as a much improved product.
Formula for leaving
I’m leaving, I had a great time working here, I am proud of what I achieved, the team are wonderful, but it’s time to go in search of new challenges.
This post doesn’t stray far from that leaving post formula, so maybe you are done here. Or if you read on maybe you’ll gain an insight or two into the GDS ‘secret sauce’ from someone who has had a hand in its concoction.
Internships are so big, Hollywood is getting in on the act
One morning, when I was interning at an Edinburgh ad agency, a client in Dundee called to say that rather than needing ‘that dvd’ next week, they needed it ‘right bloody now’.
The team fussed and moaned about how they would get it there in time. Then, being creative types, they realised they had an 18 year old youth in their company. And there’s not a lot faster than a West of Scotland teenager, other than perhaps a West of Scotland teenager tasked with an urgent delivery and loaned an account director’s drop top Golf GTI.
So roof down, away I went with my cargo. Arrived promptly and well turned out. Client was happy and impressed and called the bosses back at base to say as much.
The point of placements
There are two points to this anecdote. One is cometh the hour, cometh the intern – sometimes the most junior members of staff save the day. The second is that internships can involve grind, boredom and bewilderment but they also introduce you to what it is like to be in a workplace, in a role and have professional responsibilities.
At the end of an internship you want to come out more rounded, a bit more savvy and have a clear set of stories to tell an employer at interview. If you get to drive a cool car, that’s a bonus.
Something’s got to give. I’m either going to give this blog up for lost, change it’s focus or pick it up with renewed energy.
I have yet to decide.
In the meantime, I’ve been at it elsewhere. Mainly on the GDS blog, where I’ve posted about:
It’s a honour to post there, among some seriously smart and creative people. It’s one of my favourite blogs to read.
I’ve also been posting alongside Neil Williams on Inside Inside Government, which we use to explain new features and ideas for Inside Government. It’s been particularly enjoyable writing for that, I think we’ve got a good style going there and the feedback has been great.
Actually I’ve been a bit lax there too recently. But not to worry, I’m brewing up a couple of tasty announcements.
What an honour it is to have been called up to the small band of product managers at the Government Digital Service.
Wanting to do the absolute best job I can, I jumped at the chance to tag along to Mind the Product 2012, where product managers from around Europe met up to learn how some of the best in the world go about their business.
Of the many pearls of wisdom shared, here is what stuck with me since…
Been updating my bio and my creds pages this evening to reflect the fact that I have changed jobs.
It’s an overdue refresh. I actually transferred to the Cabinet Office and the Government Digital Service in December 2011, but I saw out the remainder of my two-year secondment to FCO which. But now I am full time at GDS and loving it.
There’s a proper, serious start-up culture here; it’s an atmosphere I’ve been craving to work in. Everyday feels like a mission to shake things up and everyone is pulling in the same direction with the aim of radically and rapidly changing the way Her Majesty’s Government thinks and does digital. Continue reading
‘Golden hours’ by Saddo
‘The Golden Hours’ is a show about two different visions on time, memories and death by artists Aitch and Saddo.
This is a piece (or a group of pieces) from that show. I love the mish-mash mythological styles, especially the colouring, in Saddo’s work.
Check out the rest of the pieces from the show on Saddo’s Flickr page. And here’s a write up.
Foreign Secretary William Hague answering questions on the situation in Libya and also on the Arab Spring on 9 June 2011 via Twitter
We’re not short of social media strategies in the government, neither are we short of social media guidelines for staff. But we are short of ICT access and on more than one occasion these social media projects have hit this same frustrating [fire]wall.
Organisations restrict access to social media for a number of reasons. The most common are concerns about creating security vulnerabilities, incurring spiralling technology costs, opening up reputational risks, losing sensitive data and suffering dips in staff performance (as they log on to watch the latest hilarious random video lulz).
It’s obvious that governments are particularly sensitive to these concerns and that this has caused them to be slower than other organisations to take advantage of social media. These days this lethargy is a problem for more than just digital teams; increasingly its policy and service delivery teams that are feeling frustrated by the blocks on their access.
Currently it is more common for access to be restricted than open. But there are a number of ways that the innovative people of the Civil Service have found ways to get the access they need - be they in media, marketing, research, policy making, consultation, engagement, service delivery or even ministerial roles. These workarounds include:
- Allowing staff to use their own devices – they would have it on them anyway but it does mean that they have to pay for it out their own pocket
- Whitelisting domains – sometimes it is the stripped back mobile versions rather than the ‘full fat’ versions that get the OK
- Permitting access through gateways, portals or virtualisation – it’s overcomplicating but it’s something
- Monitoring and throttling usage – to encourage respectful use and keep costs down but breeds resentment
- Requiring a business case – perhaps a bit over the top just to get real time information
- Providing standalone machines – not terribly green or cost effective
- Installing secondary browsers – to enable use of social web channels that couldn’t be accessed on the old browsers used as standard in depts