“Getting” the Tiers

First published at the MJ. At the recent MJ Future Forum the top question on the lines, between the lines, and sometimes hanging in the Zoom like a bad smell, was ‘why doesn’t central government “get’” local government?’.  These are some reasons that I hear a lot of the time: 1. What they do is…

The Agonising Privilege of Now

First published at FutureGov. “The old is dying and the new is not yet born, in the interregnum many mordant symptoms are found” – Antonio Gramsci Since I first heard this quote (more on which later) I have been struck by the explanatory power of recognising that we are in an interregnum; in fact we…

What might Coordinated System-Wide Climate Emergency Activity look like?

Context As we know, the response to the climate change emergency is such a ferociously complicated system problem that no-one can solve it on their own; all must play a part.  But the disparate nature of different organisations and the very many different things that need to happen can mean that we end up (potentially)…

Reflecting on Reflecting

Complex Responsive Processes of Relating I spent a day recently at a workshop entitled “Introduction to Complex Responsive Processes of Relating”, run by Chris Mowles, Professor of Complexity and Management at Hertfordshire Uni’s Business School.  Run by him, but giving a lot of time in the day for discussion with the 30 or so other…

A Tale of Two Weekends

For each of the last two weekends I have been with folk who were giving up their weekends for a purpose.   One was in Birmingham: localgovcamp, an unconference of (generally) younger UK local government folk, enthusiastic for internet-era change.   The other was in Lausanne: a gathering of Alumni of the Institute for Management…

Interesting Questions

This blog is an attempt to articulate the wider questions within which the elements of my portfolio of activities sit, and for which I am (very slowly!) trying to explore relevant academic literature. The one sentence which tries to encapsulate things is: Public service governance in the era of digital approaches, sophisticated analytics and variegated…

Introducing the Improvement and Development Board

This article appears in the November 2017 edition of The Clerk – the newsletter of the Society of Local Council Clerks.  Terminology: within the sector Town and Parish Councils are referred to as “Local Councils” with their larger brethren which people may more instantly think of as local authorities known as “principal authorities”.   My…

Scrutinising Digital

I had a chance at the recent LocalGovCamp to find some like minded souls (including the wonderful Dave McKenna) with whom to explore a question that has been interesting me for a while: how do you reconcile 21st Century approaches such as Agile with the 20th century style governance that exists within local authorities. For…

It’s About the End User, Stupid! … No! Not that one! The TICTeC blog

TICTeC is great.  The world is better for having TICTeC in it.  It provokes delight, wonder and thoughts.  This blog is mostly about the thoughts! TICTeC is The Impacts of Civic Technology Conference and the third one was held last week (25-26 April, in Florence).  It is funded thanks to sponsorship from Google and the…

Notes from TEDxSkoll

Some thoughts immediately after attendance at TEDxSkoll in Oxford on 7th April. Wonderful new website of the day http://www.dailyoverview.com/ and @doverview – go look! Food for thought of a digital variety: understanding that some of the standardised algorithms for face recognition simply don’t recognise black faces because they were omitted from the training set –…

A Partial Slee List of UKGCX

In the absence of time to do a proper blog, my (truncated to 45%) Slee list for UKGCX is as follows:  1. I was pleased with my session about the structural tensions between “agile” and “public sector governance” which has been recorded pretty well here  with some practical suggestions. I was struck by the differences…

The Growing Chaos and Complexity of Local Government

(This is based on a talk which I gave at the recent mySociety Company retreat) Summary This is a future-based look at the chaos and complexity of local government.  We are a very centralised nation but we are becoming more localised in ways which change the nature of the complexity that people have to deal…