I’ve recently left Bristol City Council, and am making a new start as a freelance consultant, working on the same themes of digital transformation, enterprise architecture and smart cities that I led on as Bristol’s Head of Digital Transformation. I will be blogging here on my new company site and over on Medium
The importance of thinking and doing
As a digital leader working in local government I was always interested in critical thinking about the work we did, that challenged our assumptions and habits. It may have come from disruptors within government, like the early Government Digital Service (GDS). Or it may have come from community activists, academics or policy researchers working with them like Knowle West Media Centre and Ideas for Change, or Nesta. I read their blog posts and reports, discussed them with colleagues, and tried to think about how we would implement them within our projects.
But the pressures of delivery and the ever increasing challenges of austerity meant that I never really had the chance to think through and articulate a considered position in response, one that embraced and welcomed the challenges but still accepted the responsibility for doing something as a pragmatic leader within government. Now that I’ve left Bristol City Council I’m in the fortunate position of having the time to read, reflect and articulate my thoughts in a series of posts that will be published over the next few months in conjunction with Perform Green.
I will combine thinking and doing in my future work – ideas need grounding in practice, but “there’s nothing so practical as a good theory.” Looking back at the barriers I experienced to doing this whilst working within the public sector, I worry that the urgency and sheer enormity of many council’s budget cuts can overwhelm leaders ability to make reflective purposeful changes that will realise the future our citizens and communities need.
Over the past few years I’ve been privileged to be part of Localgov Digital, a practitioner network that aims to improve local public services using the tools and techniques of the internet age – I love their mantra “think, do, share”, and intend to carry on with this approach despite being on the outside of the local government payroll now 🙂
Beyond that, I want to share my views and experiences in leading digital transformation, architecting the enterprise of local public services, and working on smarter cities with smart citizens. Sharing means listening and learning too, and I’m looking forwards to staying part of the Localgov Digital and OneTeam Government networks, as well as working as an Executive Partner with the HiveMind Network – helping them to build a platform organisation to disrupt consulting and resourcing services.