Loyal to the network [redux]


A few years ago now I read something by Emer Coleman that really struck a chord with me — this idea of being ’loyal to the network’ rather than to particular employers. It has become a bit of a core belief for me and is entwined with my thoughts about the ‘internet of public service’ and my general approach to my career.

The years since that first exposure to that idea have witnessed a massive increase in my ‘network’ though the shared same shared values are prevalent.

Anyway I was in a pub a couple of weeks ago chatting to Messrs Downey and Pope amongst others and this idea came up. More specifically I think Paul raised this theory that suggests that the most important thing that GDS achieved is actually the network it created.

I like this. It speaks to a bigger reality.

The profile of GDS in those early years acted as a centre of gravity that attracted all manner of folk from all kinds of backgrounds. The three things they had in common was a belief that the internet was a force for good, they had the skills to back that up and that they believed they could use it to improve the way Government worked / provided services to the people.

It created a network beyond Aviation House as more and more people were inspired by the principles and approach. The stickers became a Shibboleth. Twitter and, later, Slack became the nervous system.

People moved on but they didn’t leave the network. It spread across oceans and more incredibly outside of the public sector.

Remember that old game — something about six degrees of Kevin Bacon? This network is two degrees of separation from Mr Loosemore. Or Ade. Or Jordan.

It is a network still determined to do the right thing, the right way. Sometimes this can seem a bit partisan but that will pass. It continues to inspire but maybe GDS is no longer the centre of it all — that is fine. It remains a hub for sure but these days the network is more distributed but without that initial gravitational pull I’m not sure it would ever have reached the critical mass to really last.

So while I might be leaving public service I remain loyal to the network. If you are reading this chances are you understand.