Things which caught my eye elsewhere on the web
When bright people make dull policy recommendations | Nesta
The disadvantage of the adviser’s approach is that it doesn’t put a premium on originality. After all, most good policy ideas aren’t original, and most original policy ideas aren’t good. You would expect even a very good policy white paper to include lots of old ideas. This is a problem if you are expecting the chapter to tell you something new and fresh.
What if boldness were an explicit value of the civil service? — Medium
I’ve always been drawn to boldness. I find boldness in others inspiring, infectious, empowering, creative and meaningful. I want to spend time around bold, honest, open people. I want to be inspired and empowered to boldness myself. I know I am at my best when I can feel the weird whoosh of terror and relief that comes from real, heartfelt boldness. And I don’t think you can lead a great team, or transform organisations or services without a healthy amount of boldness.
Alex Blandford — Elbow grease
Fixing big government digital problems takes elbow grease. It takes political campaigners to get the politicians buy in and the budget, it takes business planners and procurement people to get civil servants used to agile, it takes product managers and delivery teams to show value for money, it takes a range of disciplines, skills beyond sharpies and patience beyond saints.
Why Big Companies Keep Failing: The Stack Fallacy | TechCrunch
The stack fallacy provides insights into why companies keep failing at the obvious things — things so close to their reach that they can surely build. The answer may be that the what is 100 times more important than the how.
Helping Civil Servants help Citizens | No Quick Wins
I am very much in favour of public servants being trusted to make professional judgements within the context of their work. But if we want to drive a change towards more modern and efficient tools we should make it easy. And at the moment, it’s too easy to carry on using a clunky combination of email, attached documents and corporate file shares rather than put the effort into assessing whether an online collaboration tool is fit for purpose – and then working out how to transfer the ‘final version’ into the official record.
Bits or pieces?: Cloud is outsourcing but it’s not outsourcing (as was).
The problem with outsourcing in the past wasn’t the concept of outsourcing but instead that organisations outsourced entire systems for which they had no situational awareness. This was foolish and of course outsourcing got a bad name except from the suppliers who cottoned onto the scam and made oodles of cash out of it. The simple reality is that there’s nothing wrong with outsourcing if you break down complex environments into components and outsource those industrialised ones.
Designing a New Operating System for Work — What’s The Future of Work? — Medium
Large organizations are a kind of technology, a technology for scaling up economic activities while minimizing costs of doing so. You could think of it as an operating system for work that’s been running for a century. And now we’re creating a new operating system, based on always-on Internet, mobile devices, social media, sensors and geolocation technologies. But this new operating system for coordinating human activities and creating new kinds of value could also be riddled with catastrophic bugs, pushing large swaths of the population to labor at subsistence levels, with no benefits and little predictability over their earning streams.
The Politics of Empathy and the Politics of Technology — The Message — Medium
The people who run the Internet platforms are making calls about who they think is deserving of empathy. That makes their decisions thoroughly political. The fact that I sympathize with the challenge of making these decisions is not what is important. Rather, I am pointing out that none of these are decisions are automatic outputs emanating from the technology itself, nor are they independent of technology and its characteristics. There are genuine constraints and issues about what’s possible, easy and straightforward to implement. The geo-fencing versus spam issue, for example, cannot be resolved without discussing the Internet’s architecture. Encryption cannot be deactivated for some people (the bad guys) without making all of internet insecure, for example. The politics of technology is politics, but it’s never just politics.
Mobile, ecosystems and the death of PCs — Benedict Evans
The things you can only do on a PC, with a native PC application, keep shrinking. Indeed, I’ve argued elsewhere that it’s time to invert our mental model and think of the PC, not the smartphone, as the limited device.
So, each new computing platform will never be used for real work, but the platform gets better and the work changes to fit the new platform. In tech, ‘never’ seems to be 5-10 years (so does ‘soon’).
A blog is your brain, over time, on the internet
Over time, a blog becomes a corpus of knowledge – your knowledge, or your organisation’s knowledge. A blog is your brain, over time, on the internet. An archive of what you think now and what you thought before. And that means it’s one of the simplest and most effective ways you can make things open, and make things better.
Stop saying technology is causing social isolation — Digital Culturist — Medium
We need to stop thinking technology is ruining everything, making us a slave to it, mindlessly using our smartphones all the time. It is not. It is enriching our lives, connecting us to the people that matter the most to us regardless of how far away they are, connecting us to all kinds of people whom we wouldn’t have met otherwise. So, stop feeling superior for making fun of other people because they’re using their smartphones, stop pretending our lives and society would be better without them, stop blaming technology for natural human behaviors.
Gotta catch ‘em all, or, a story about digital transformation in four movements | Matt Edgar writes here
Members of high-performing teams bring more of themselves to their work. Suits must mix with t-shirts, uniforms must be considered harmful. The broader its collective perspectives, the more empathy a team can build with all its users.
What if users were in the room with you? Would they feel at home? Would they understand the words you use? Would they feel valued and respected? Because workers are users too. And if the way we live our lives is changing, then so must the way we do our work. You can’t truly deliver one without the other.
What World Are We Building?
It’s easy to love or hate technology, to blame it for social ills or to imagine that it will fix what people cannot. But technology is made by people. In a society. And it has a tendency to mirror and magnify the issues that affect everyday life. The good, bad, and ugly.
So you want to manage a product? — The Product Management Coalition — Medium
Being a product manager is about making compromises between what your team can accomplish within a given period of time and what your customers absolutely need. You will continually be torn between your team, customers, and business in an impossible race against time. The minor victory is in balancing short- and long-term product strategy, no matter if your product was conceived today or twenty years ago.
Putting the “design” into organisation design – FutureGov
Good organisation design is one of the most important factors in making transformation happen, and here’s why: because we can’t bring radical change to the services we deliver without bringing radic
You Mustn’t Criticise The Status Quo At A Hackday ← Terence Eden’s Blog
If you work at a large company, or in a powerful industry, you must listen to your critics. You don’t have to believe everything they say about you, nor do you have to accept their arguments. But if you can’t listen, you’ve lost. For everyone brave enough to stand on stage and voice their displeasure, there are many more silently nodding in agreement.
Volkswagen and the Era of Cheating Software || Zeynep Tufekci
The good news is that there are well-understood methods to safeguard the integrity of software systems. The bad news is that there is as yet little funding for creating the appropriate regulatory framework for smart objects, or even an understanding of the urgent need for it. We are rightly incensed with Volkswagen, but we should also consider how we have ceded a lot of power to software that runs everything from our devices to our cars, and have not persisted in keeping tabs on it. We correctly worry about hackers and data leaks, but we are largely ignoring the ramifications of introducing software, a form of intelligence, to so many realms — sometimes called the Internet of Things.
Richie | Data is not an asset, it’s a liability
You don’t start with the raw data. You start with the questions you want answered. Then you collect the data you need (and just the data you need) to answer those questions.
Think this way for a while, and you notice a key factor: old data usually isn’t very interesting. You’ll be much more interested in what your users are doing right now than what they were doing a year ago. Sure, spotting trends in historical data might be cool, but in all likelihood it isn’t actionable. Today’s data is.
This is important, because it invalidates the whole premise of storing data just in case you’ll need it later. You simply won’t, so incurring the cost of storing and managing and safeguarding it makes no sense at all.
Actionable insight is an asset. Data is a liability. And old data is a non-performing loan.