The digital transformation illusion

This is something you see quite often as digital impinges on old-fashioned industries, that first of all digital makes the old product better, and then all of a sudden it creates a new product that kills the old product entirely. And so digital looks to begin with like everything’s going great, that it’s going to be wonderful, we’re going to make lots more money than we did before, and then all of a sudden, somebody comes along and crushes you.

Department of Digital

If there is a Department of Digital, and a Secretary of State for Digital, what should they not be in charge of? If there is a message from the digital revolution, it is that digital touches everything, that the remit of the Department for Analogue will never regain the heady scope it once had. Digital is not a separate thing to be bolted on when the real work has been done elsewhere, it is not a channel for final delivery, independent of context.


Rules, we tell ourselves, are made to be broken. When strict application of the rule produces a silly outcome, we prefer to bend the rule rather than enforce the silly outcome. A rule which could cope with every exception and every special circumstance would be so complex and incomprehensible that it couldn’t in practice work as a rule at all. And so we muddle through.

King Canute was buried at sea

King Canute is famous for thinking that by his royal command, he could hold back the incoming tide. King Canute is famous for demonstrating the limitations of even royal power by showing that he could not hold back the incoming tide. His attempt to show humility and the limits of power became a story of […]

Twenty years of e-Government

Many of the ambitions of twenty years ago still resonate today. Their realisation is still work in progress. Jerry Fishenden has taken on the labour of recording the main trends of the history of e-government, or online government, or digital government (even the name has archaeological layers) in the UK over the last twenty years. […]

Public and strategic

  Most of the time, the hottest place in the solar system is the core of the sun. Some of the time, the hottest place in the solar system is tucked away in an obscure building on an anonymous industrial estate on a former airfield in rural Oxfordshire.1 There they use extreme heat and power […]

Aphorism 43 (and 43A)

Having a strategy is the easy bit, it’s making it work that’s difficult. Bruce Thompson (with thanks to @FlipChartFT) Or, in reverse If you think formulating strategy is the hard part, you haven’t tried delivering it Jon Ayre