Work week in review 10/08/15 – 14/08/15

Blooming hell that was another crazy week in the usually pretty sedate world of digital government. After the surprise resignation of Mike Bracken last week this week saw Tom, Russell, Ben and Leisa following suit. I’ve written a little bit of a thank-you to those four over on the work blog so won’t repeat that here. What I will say is it really created a bit of a blood in the water situation and between journalists speculating and stirring, Twitterati gossiping and, by all accounts, the big IT ‘service integrators’ rubbing their hands in glee it was a lively couple of days.

I’m not sure anything else really needs saying but here is my brief tuppence worth anyway – it is a real loss and things will probably go through some changes and realignments BUT there are still LOADS of brilliant people at GDS and elsewhere in Government who are committed to a users first, service design thinking, open approach. Many of those people are also in positions of sufficient authority that they are not going to just be reverting to a pre-Martha/Mike/Maude approach without a fight. Harry and Louise wrote great posts in response to the resignations and all the uproar and Neil summed it up in a tweet (he always had a way with Twitter!)

Not that anybody asked but none of this has changed my commitment to the work we are doing. I mean at this point who the hell else would have me 🙂

Elsewhere this week we said goodbye to Alan Smith OBE after 18.88 years working at ONS. Now you won’t meet many people who have earned a spot on the Queen’s Birthday Honours List due to their data visualisation work but that is what Alan achieved. At a time when the ONS website was being consistently criticised Alan and his team managed to carve out an international reputation for their approach to datavis and given the website couldn’t even host their creations this was no mean feat! I’ve learned a lot working with Alan these last couple of years and will endeavour to ensure we continue to live up to the standards he set. The Financial Times are lucky to get him.

Project wise we started our 10th sprint on Wednesday focusing in on a few big ticket items; 9.30 publishing, search and an approach to presenting a Welsh language of the site. When push comes to shove 9.30 and search are the make or break features of the whole thing so no pressure there! We also did a couple of days of usability testing in London putting the Beta site through its paces. Early indications are we are moving in the right direction still and while there is still work to do people are really starting to intuitively understand the site. We’ll blog about that in detail soon.

As usual I spent an unfortunate amount of time working on recruitment and also made a proposal for us to spin up our own version of the Performance Platform for all our digital services from now on. I also puller the trigger on entering us in to the Civil Service Innovation challenge – Silicon Valley here we come!

Hopefully next week will be a little calmer 🙂

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