I must confess, I am writing this because if I don’t Dave Briggs will humiliate me for my apathy (and rightly so) but with that said, I wanted to respond to some of the discussion circulating around the UK Government Barcamp about it’s relevance to the broader Public Sector community rather than a handful of passionate individuals drawn to a common cause.
It’s always a tough balance to strike, but I think those attending and organising such events need to be really mindful of the attendees – and more importantly the organisations they represent.
As a relative newcomer I have to admit I was blown away not just by the extent of the participation at all of the sessions, but also by the organisations that were and weren’t represented.
Some of the post event discussion has talked of the relevance of the event. I know people are pretty pragmatic as to what’s possible, but I think we are in danger of under-estimating the progress that has already been made.
Case in point #1: Look at the attendee list. There are representatives from many local authorities, DWP, NPIA, DirectGov, Cabinet Office, DoT and the Home Office to name but a few, (and not to mention those that didn’t declare their affiliation).
Case in point #2: More importantly (for me at least) is that the number of people from "IT" from those groups was actually pretty small – to me this is the biggest deal of all (and a great indicator that we’re headed in the right direction). I spend a lot of my time with Public Sector CIO’s and those engaged in delivering IT services to customers (internal & external) and let me tell you, they’d have been blown away by the discussions that were had at the event but I’d bet they will be even more impressed if you bring back the passion and drive into your organisation and help them make the transformational change we all know is required.
So overall, I agree with the sentiment that we need to _do something_ with all the energy, passion and good ideas, and to that extent I have a few suggestions:
- Just do it, but tell people why and be compassionate in your approach. Trust me, your average friendly neighbourhood CIO needs support from the business, but you need to help him help others understand why your project is important to your business. Wherever possible, work with IT to make this happen, give them the tools/ammunition to help others get your cause.
- Don’t be oblivious to the fact there are things you don’t worry about that others have to. Your CIO/Risk Officer/insert similar role here has a broader remit than you do. They have to worry about the whole, you only have to worry about yourselves. Yeah, I know there are those that use security or risk as a blocker to progress but if they say "no", don’t leave until they offer an option on how you actually could.
- Finally, remember where we are in this transformation and your role in making it happen. The 100 or so attendees (and the many colleagues that joined virtually) are the stone entering the pool, it’s our job to make the ripples reach further so it’s down to us to tell your friends and colleagues – you were there last Saturday because you care and you get it – make sure that by next year, those working around you understand to the same extent as you.
Lets give Dave the headache of finding a bigger venue – that would be a nice problem for us all to have…