poacher turned gamekeeper in pr learning and reflections.jpg

Many have made the move from journalism to PR.  This post reflects on 10 years on the bright side…

by Daniel Cattanach

“You’ll never get the same buzz from PR as you do from journalism.” Those words from my old chief reporter still ring in my ears to this day – just as they did when I walked through the doors of my first PR job, 10 years ago.

I could understand why he felt that way – he’d turned down an in-house PR job at an industrial company years previously. It didn’t seem like it could possibly compete with the sheer variety of stories that he’d come across during his decades of local newspaper reporting. In his time he’d dealt with countless court reports, been enthralled by scores of golden/ diamond wedding couples all eager to impart their secrets to a successful marriage; and he’d also covered a fair few difficult stories – such as the unsolved case of a baby’s remains being found in a concrete block, and the toughened steelworkers trying hard not to shed a tear over their final shift as the ages-old industry that they’d built their lives on had finally died in their town.

Indeed, during the three years I’d spent on my home patch for the local weekly and daily, I had my fair share of eventful days; including visiting my first crime scene (stolen fish – in which I discovered how to spell Koi carp so that it didn’t read like they were just being shy), and interviewing my childhood pop idol Kim Wilde at a Cumbrian slate mine as she dug for victory with a gold medal at the Chelsea Flower Show. There are also days I’ll never forget; like reporting on the funeral of an old school mate who’d been shot while serving in Iraq, and the kind letter from the widow of a sailor – who had been lost at sea – thanking me for covering his requiem sensitively.

However, I also remember speaking with people who felt they’d been let down by an organisation and were convinced that getting their story in the paper would help them bring about a change for the better. I would always tell them that I’d do my best but I also urged them to speak with the organisation in question directly (whether it be local authority, utility supplier or widget company); for as another (now ex-journo) colleague used to remind me: “What we write would be tomorrow’s fish & chip paper, if it wasn’t for health & safety laws.”

I’ve always believed that the best way to achieve change and results is from within an organisation. That’s why I was so excited to begin my comms career with my local authority, Allerdale Borough Council, on my home turf – it was an even prouder achievement for me than working for the BBC; walking through the hallowed corridors of Television Centre; talking about head lice with John Humphrys and setting up live broadcasts in far away places – and yes; it was even more exciting than interviewing my pop idol (sorry Kim).

Stepping inside “the cloud factory”

From day one at Allerdale, my communications and marketing manager instilled in me a “can-do” attitude. While my old newspaper was going through the bureaucracy of scheduling video production training – leaving journos chomping at the bit for months on end, even though they’d already been doing photojournalism for ages – my brilliant boss let me pull together a shopping list for her to approve (camera, microphone, tripod, editing package), and then I was given free rein. During that first summer I was empowered to set up and produce short videos every month – profiling council initiatives and services via our website and YouTube channel. Alongside writing news releases and providing photography/ editorial for the residents’ magazine, it was a great way of getting to know colleagues across the council and get to the heart of what they did – from food hygiene to grave digging. It also offered great scope for creativity – with parodies of Match of the Day and Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall helping to make our content even more engaging.

Having that creative freedom to try out fresh ideas – learning from what worked (and what didn’t) – is why I used to call Allerdale Council “the cloud factory” (based on their cloud logo) – a nickname which has stuck with me and my young daughter to this day.

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Social media was still in its infancy in 2008 but our tiny communications team (the two of us) took a chance on launching our own Facebook page and developing the Twitter feed that the clever bods in IT had registered a year or so earlier). We discovered how we could connect with our communities directly – especially in times of crisis; such as when severe flooding devastated our area in November 2009. As well as managing media requests, as part of the emergency response, we were also able to co-ordinate offers of help for people flooded out of their homes – advising the public of what was needed and which reception centres they could take their donated items too.

It was a tremendously challenging time but also an extremely rewarding one – I learned a lot about the human spirit; not least that of my council colleagues who stepped up to support others in the emergency response (even if they had seen their own homes flooded too). Being able to directly connect with people via social media was another eye-opener. Having previously being used to just rattling out stories with little feedback (except for the odd grumpy comment from a news editor), it was exhilarating to get instant reactions from your actual audience (yes – even the negative comments) which could help you tailor your approach, advise colleagues of service requests and improve your chances of connecting with people successfully.

Creating the buzz

It’s great to see public sector comms professionals across the nation are becoming increasingly comfortable with pushing the boundaries via social media –  especially with the inspirational comms2point0 community offering support and advice. It’s heartwarming to witness the creativity and passion of colleagues and peers driving each other forward to deliver the goods and achieve more.

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Yes, it can be scary; whether it’s tweeting a pancake art video to improve voter registration with a risqué strapline (“give a toss – mark your cross”) or a tongue-in-cheek pun to express relief after being part of round-the-clock information service covering the safe disposal of a WW2 explosive (“#BombVoyage”). But it’s also thoroughly rewarding when you make that connection with people – resulting in a string of positive reactions, increased engagement and more people taking up services (or reducing demand/ pressure on resources).

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Lately we’ve been trying a more forthright comms approach to deal with repeated anti-social littering in our local parks and open spaces. When faced with yet another Monday-morning deluge of photos showing litter strewn around full bins, we decided to take a stand. As well as thanking people for highlighting the problem and confirming that we’re clearing the mess up ASAP, we also ask if we can use their photos in a series of posts intended to shame people into taking their litter away with them (ideally to recycle at home) and reporting full bins.

I’m relieved to say that our first post succeeded in hitting the mark – with overwhelming support from the public who were also fed up with those who showed no respect for the environment. In under 24 hours, our Facebook post had been seen by 6,172 people – with 2,864 click-throughs from people wanting to see more photos, along with 277 comments, reactions and shares of the post.

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Sure, we’ve received some comments which questioned our lack of professional tone on the corporate accounts, or suggested that we should “just put out bigger bins”. But these are in the minority. Overall there is a real groundswell of empathy for our messages – with others commenting on our behalf – as together we continue to encourage the community to do the right thing.

When we mentioned our impressive level of organic engagement (coming from a Facebook page with just over 1,000 followers), one local reporter remarked: “One can only dream of those Facebook stats.”

So looking back over the last decade (and comparing it with eight years in national and local journalism), I honestly believe that the real buzz comes from comms. Yes; there’ll always be the odd meeting that should’ve been an email, the to-be-expected last-minute request that’s infuriating rather than exciting and, of course, the dreaded facepalm moment. But I’ve been bitten by the comms bug and it keeps me hanging on – not even Wilde horses could drag me away.

Daniel Cattanach is news & media manager at Bath & North East Somerset Council

image via Tobias Myrstrand Leander

Original source – comms2point0 free online resource for creative comms people – comms2point0

‘Internet of Public Service jobs’ is a weekly list of vacancies related to product management, user experience, data and design in…you guessed it…the ‘internet of public service’ curated by @jukesie every Sunday.

Sign up for the weekly email at tinyletter.com/jukesie

[01] Deputy Director of Operations and Capability, Digital Group
Department for Education
Coventry or Manchester
Closing date: 29/07/2018

[02] User Researcher
Future Cities Catapult
£35,000 — £42,000
Closing date: 18/08/2018

[03] Senior Lecturer in Design Thinking
Coventry University
£37,713 — £53,698
Closing date: 13/08/2018

[04] Head of Product Management
Department for Work and Pensions
Blackpool, Leeds, London, Manchester, Newcastle or Sheffield
£82,000 — £115,000
Closing date: 31/08/2018

[05] Design Lead
HM Revenue and Customs
Shipley or Worthing
Closing date: 08/08/2018

[06] Transformation Lead
Scottish Government
£60,379 — £69,690
Closing date: 13/08/2018

[07] Senior Delivery Manager
Home Office
London or Sheffield
Closing date: 01/08/2018

[08] Senior User Researcher
Well Digital
Closing date: ?

[09] Product Manager (iPlayer)
Salary not stated*
Closing date: 03/08/2018

[10] Senior Product Manager
Canadian Digital Service

Internet of Public Service Jobs: 22/07/2018 was originally published in Product for the People on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

Original source – Product for the People


Its been a busy few months. One of the good things about it is travelling to places and hearing new ideas. Often when I’m training I come back with a few pearls of wisdom.

I heard about HIPPOs when I was in Devon.

Not the large irratable African animals that can block and then flatten your car. Oh, no. The HIPPO is the Highest Pail Person’s Opinion. The HIPPO in the room can flatten your idea simply because they are the ones with the large salary and the job title.

There was a smile of recognition in the room at the description. I smiled too.

Problems HIPPOs pose

Bright leaders know they don’t have all the answers and surround themselves with people who are expert in their field. Bright leaders listen. Less bright – lets call them heroic leaders – think they have to have the answers and stand on top of the tank and point heroically.

It’s where the ‘the executive director would like a poster’ line comes from.

The problem with this is they are rarely right.

Convincing HIPPOs they are wrong

Of course, once the HIPPO has spoken you are in trouble.  It’s then you against the senior person and it can be very tricky for you to turn the column of tanks around. But you need to. If you don’t give your professional advice there is little between you and a shorthand typist.

But the problem can be is that it can appear as though it is you folding your arms and saying ‘no’ because you are just being difficult.

The way round it is by adopting a process to find the best idea.

Data driven communications

One slide I very often point to is from the Edelman Trust Barometer. This research was started the best part of 20 years ago after the Battle in Seattle when anti-globalisation protesters clashed with police. ‘Why do people hate us?,’ the cry went up and the research helped map trust.


The useful thing about this is that tells you that the person like your self with 53 per cent is more trusted than the director who has 38 per cent. So, if the issue is around children playing on railway lines,  then children and maybe parents are the best people to deliver that message.

Need another example? The acclaimed NHS #thisgirlcan campaign used the word ‘girl’ rather than woman or female because the data said that the word ‘girl’ would cut through to most people. So data won and helped the campaign fly.

Data driven communications is a really good idea.

It’s not you that’s saying ‘no’. It’s letting the data points to the right answer and that just takes the sting and the personality out of it.

And that can be brilliant for getting past HIPPOs.

Picture credit: Daniel Jureno / Flickr


Original source – The Dan Slee Blog » LOCAL SOCIAL: Is it time for a Local localgovcamp?


One man who works in insight and who has left the public sector looks back and says ‘thank you’ to comms people he worked with.

by Adam Pearson  

For nearly a decade I’ve been sat alongside comms and PR colleagues at various councils. We’ve enjoyed each other’s company. We’ve had a laugh, we’ve had our disagreements. Generally we’ve left each other to get on with our jobs.

But it’s only after leaving this bubble that I’ve realised just what you bring to the table each and every day. Maybe I was too busy being busy, but I don’t think I ever truly said thanks. And a hurried ‘thanks for your help’ email doesn’t count in my book.

My background and passion is research. I think I’m ok at it. I take great satisfaction in a well-crafted survey. I love to find the stories in data.

But a survey without responses is pretty useless. Insightful analysis is a waste without an audience and purpose. I think you comms folk get that more than any other department. You’re the reality check when everyone else is getting bogged down in detail and can’t see the wood for the trees.

I didn’t intend for this to be a near nauseating homage to the comms and pr profession. If I’m honest I started writing a general piece about the importance of communication in the research and consultation process. Before I knew it I’d come up with 5 critical elements which were all about you.

1.      You get us organised with a clear comms plan and strategy

Someone once said it’s not the plan that’s important, it’s the planning. I know what they’re saying, but no. The plan is important. There’s so much to consider. Timescales, content, audience, promotion, media. The plan holds everyone to account. It provides the focus we all need.

Invariably without a plan we just hobble along. The survey or consultation may be live. But it’s not kicking.

2.      You can make boring but important surveys and consultations more engaging and relevant

“We want to consult on public space protection orders proposals to prohibit the use of wheeled conveyances”

What does that even mean? You’re like a translator. I have to do that a bit too. But you take it to the next level. It’s more than being the plain English enforcers. It comes back to the comms strategy, knowing your audience and making sure the messaging and content means something to them.

At the end of the day a survey or consultation is about reaching an audience so you can capture their views. And I don’t think we could reach them without you.

3.      You resist the temptation to shout at us (most of the time) when we don’t involve you early enough

“We’ve got this survey, it needs to go live tomorrow?”

Sound familiar? This has definitely happened. Genuinely, I’m sorry. No matter how disorganised or last minute those around you are, I can’t remember a time when you didn’t make it happen.

4.      You manage the invariable $h!tstorm when we push that controversial consultation out

Whether it’s pulling a million out of the parks budget, reducing the frequency of bin collections or closing children’s centres, difficult decisions and contentious consultations are common place these days.

I can hide behind a survey, at worst I’ll have to field questions at a consultation event.

But you guys are marshalling the frontline. And it’s constant. I’ve seen it in the office. Managing the emotion and backlash on social. Fielding requests from hungry journalists. Advising worried senior officials and politicians. You do it with such tact and composure. Hats off to you.

5.      You remind us that sharing is a two-way street

The survey is live. We want you to shout about it at every opportunity. We’re often demanding.

The survey closes. Tumbleweed. There can be different reasons for this. Someone might not like what the results are saying. We might be getting bogged down trying to analyse the data within an inch of its life.

We also have a habit of re-engineering the feedback process. Run survey. Analyse and mull internally. Nothing happens. Time to go out again. Oh crap, what did we do? Quickly identify key findings and see if we inadvertently did anything which could be interpreted as ‘you said, we did’.

You rightly hold us to account and champion meaningful communication and feedback. Often it’s built into the comms plan. How are you going to communicate the findings, what do they mean to our communities and what are we going to do as a result?

I came up with 5 but the list could go on.

So, if you’re having one of those days where you feel like the work of comms isn’t valued and you’re taken for granted by those around you, I’m here as an outsider to say: it is and you’re not.

This is my long overdue thank you.

Adam Pearson used to work in the public sector and left to set-up Pearson Insight.

Original source – comms2point0 free online resource for creative comms people – comms2point0


It has been a big year for the NHS. The organisation that gives a safety new of free at the point of delivery heath celebrated its 70th birthday and how people responded. This is a look at the big picture and how it took off in one corner of the UK.

by  Claire Riley

If social media reach numbers equated to miles the celebration of the NHS at 70 would have got us to the moon and back more than 50 times.  But don’t be fooled in to thinking that this was only a NHS birthday celebration as many have gone before….this was not a ‘Rainbow on roses and whiskers on kittens….’ moment. This was, and still remains to be, a social movement that extends well beyond the boundaries of a quick puff at a few candles and the liberation of a party popper or two.

Social media has enabled people to be mobilised in a far more meaningful way through the ability to engage and tell their own personal stories – all in support of the NHS, it’s values, beliefs and purpose for being.

Let’s let the numbers speak for themselves:

·       12,300,000 reach #ilovetheNHS film thunderclap

·       150,000 people took part in the ‘park run for the NHS’

·       300,000 uses of #NHS70 over the week of the birthday – 200,000 of which during the 24 hrs of the birthday

·       35,000 staff entered sports competitions – that we know of

·       Over 5000+ NHS Big 7Teas raising awareness and cash for charities

·       4,000 staff and partners attending celebrations at Westminister Abbey and York Minister

·       200 buildings turned blue including Parliament, Blackpool Tower and for us further up north Tyne Bridge, Berwick Bridge and Penshaw Monument!

And this is just a snapshot of the activity that happened up and down the country.

What the numbers don’t however show are the stories and moving tributes staff, patients, public and celebrities shared, and continue to share, about how proud they are of the NHS and its committment to a free at the point of use healthcare system. 

Those 7Teas weren’t just 70 cups of tea. They represented thousands of people positively engaged in and around the NHS – from school children to the older and wiser generation, the latter of which remembering a time when they or their families had to pay for healthcare… a time before cancer could be cured… a time when emergency medicine just didn’t exist as it does now…yet still remain to be amazed that people can see into the inner workings of the human body…..and still uniquely aware that all generations need to protect, cherish and use NHS services wisely!

NHS70 in Northumbria 

For us in Northumbria Healthcare it was an opportunity to celebrate our great NHS with staff, patients and public – and we certainly did celebrate.  With community groups and dance troupes joining our staff and patients all week… there wasn’t a dry eye in the house …..every day.  Afternoon tea and dance displays were supported by our charity – we had patients from the wards join us, some were initially in two minds to do so, but they were certainly pleased they did – toes tapping, teas drank and cakes ate – thousands of cakes ate! I am sure our public health and diabetes specialists even participated, it was a special occasion after all!  We also used it as an opportunity to engage about the #futureNHS and the challenges it continues to face … asking people to look to the future with us …  

As for the media across the country…….it isn’t often we thank the media – but on this occasion we should.  Their support, interest and enthusiasm to get involved in this movement was unprecedented – well done!

But let’s also give a thought to all of the communications professionals across the NHS who made this happen – with a very special mention to Antony Tiernan and his team at NHS England whose passion and enthusiasm mobilised us all – making it much more than a birthday celebration but an opportunity to engage hundreds of thousands of people in what’s great about the NHS and why, at 70, the NHS remains to be young in its lifetime and, unlike humans, its lifespan is beyond that of any individual. The values of the NHS sit within the fabric of the UK and woe betide anyone who dares to say otherwise.

Claire Riley is Director of Communications and Corporate Affairs at Northumbria Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust. 

Original source – comms2point0 free online resource for creative comms people – comms2point0

Earlier this week I did a talk at the Mind the Product conference in San Francisco. I was talking about research, but now that i work at Atlassian, the examples I gave included some from the Jira team’s work.

I also showed a slide that was a photo of a team, gathered in a meeting around a wall covered with index cards. No one in the meeting had their laptops out.

This is what people seemed to want to talk about over coffee later in the day. Could it be true that I, spokesperson (one of many) for Jira, would possibly want to see stuff on the wall?  Surely it should all just be in Jira right?

People told me they messaged photos of the slide back to their teams to show them – ‘look, the Atlassian person says it is ok to put things on the walls!’

omg yes. I love walls with post its and index cards stuck on it and sketches on whiteboards. I like walls for planning, for thinking, for communicating and for analysing. And then you capture it all in a tool, like Jira.

This is why.

Walls make it easier to iterate

Digital things look ‘finished’ too soon. when something is a work in progress on a wall, it looks unfinished, so you keep working on it. moving things around, reshaping things, connecting things, erasing things, and making them again. Walls make it easier to iterate. Iteration, in my opinion, is massively correlated with quality.

This is why walls are good for sketching out design ideas and processes. This is why they are amazing for research analysis (don’t care what anyone says, post it notes are still the best tool for research analysis for exactly this reason – no one ever does three (or more) rounds of synthesis using a digital tool).

Walls make it easier to collaborate (in a single location)

There is something about a group of people standing in front of a wall full of sketches, or index cards or post it notes. Its a different kind of collaboration than you get around a table, or in a digital tool. You’re usually standing up, so you’re paying attention, you’re focussed. People physically pick up the card that they are talking about and something about that seems to pull focus even more. Doing a stand up at a physical wall and moving the cards across to done has always felt a lot like the physical act of crossing something off the to do list – so much more satisfying than updating a status on an issue. The messiness of a room full of post it notes when you’re doing analysis almost compels you to finish making that sweep through the data… finding the best place, for now, for every sticky note of data. There is something about the physicality and the embodiment of the work that I have always felt binds teams together more, drives us to do better and more complete thinking about the work we’re doing. There is no science to this just many years of experience. Walls just work better for me, when I’m lucky enough to work in the same location as my team. Walls do suck at remote and distributed teams.

Walls make it easier to communicate

Sometimes the walls are not for you but for other people. Sometimes walls are to send a message. They can say – ‘look how many things people want us to do, this is insane and someone needs to prioritise this’, they can say ‘look how much we’ve done this sprint, yay!’ or ‘look how much we have left to do, uh oh!’, they can say ‘these things are really important to our team, this is what we believe it’, or they can say ‘here is what we’re working on at the moment’.

I’ve been in, and observed many teams who use walls to communicate either the most important messages to the team in a kind of omnipresent way – this is what we believe it, or this is what we are focussing on right now, or these are our values, or here is our goal.

Or sometimes they are designed to communicate to bosses and stakeholders – those walls might say ‘we’d get the things we’ve promised done if you didn’t always sneak in all this unplanned work’ (I’ve seen a few of those).

Some people I’ve know have had jobs that include keeping the digital tool up to date with the wall. Or the other way around. Its not inefficiency. The wall is doing different things for the team.

And that’s another great thing about walls, it doesn’t need to be a zero sum game.

If you’re using Jira, using a wall makes perfect sense to me. I don’t know why you’d do without.

related reading: Alan Cooper – Know whiteboards, know design

Original source – disambiguity

Today we hosted our annual House of Lords Reception, where we could thank Online Centres, and share our celebrations with staff and volunteers from the communities we work in, as well as MPs, Lords, Baronesses, partners, and friends of Good Things Foundation.

I gave a short speech and wanted to share it on my blog. Hope you enjoy it.


“Today we’re enjoying the sunshine, thanking our partners, celebrating our shared achievements over the past year and looking ahead to the future.

Today, we’re also celebrating 10 of our community partners in the Online Centres Network, who have winning ideas showing how grassroots problem solving can have a real impact on helping people to overcome challenges. We’ll be sharing a film today of some of the 10 winners of the Community Challenge Prize, that we ran with Joseph Rowntree Foundation, and Campbell Rob and Liz Williams will tell you more later.

The best bit of my job is visiting our Online Centres and talking to the people there. I see hope and a bit more happiness in their eyes because of the help and support they’ve received from those fabulous hyperlocal community organisations.

I love that Good Things Foundation is a truly mission-led organisation. I’m so lucky to have a job I really love.

The Challenge Prize just one of our new social inclusion initiatives. Some of these ideas are truly inspiring, and they show how technology can be an intrinsic part of the solution to, in this case, help to put a bit more money into the pockets of people with very little.

We’ve shown time and time again how a relentless focus on people and people’s needs, plus an understanding of how technology leads to better outcomes, can underpin a better, more effective solution for social issues, and leads to better lives. Technology also helps us to scale.

We’re not immune to the worries that people have as the digitisation of our economy and our society continues at pace. There are challenges as well as opportunities. But these opportunities are not currently shared fairly or equally.

For many, digitisation can mean hollowed out high streets, social and economic exclusion, and an even higher poverty premium.

At Good Things, through our network, we have been at the vanguard of tackling these new inequalities. We are so proud of that work. And proud of the partners – both locally and nationally who help us.

But we have also decided that it is time to ask those who profit most from digitisation – the businesses and the public services who save money by services and support going online – to pay a little bit of those savings back into the community.

Over the next few months, we will be campaigning for a new ‘Digital Dividend’, to invest a proportion of the private and public sectors’ savings from digitisation in ensuring digital inclusion for all. We thank our national public and private partners who are already doing this and already investing. But more people and more organisations can do more!

And, finally what a year we’ve had:

  • Over the last year, we have grown our social inclusion programme, developing a number of projects alongside the Challenge Prize
  • Won funding from the Women’s Centenary Vote Fund for the Voicebox Cafes project, which is supporting excluded women to play a role in democracy and local decision making
  • Won additional funding for our English Language Programme – English My Way, that’s powered and scaled through digital and targets vulnerable women
  • And we’ve continued our Big Lottery Reboot project with MIND and Homeless Link.

And we’ve:

  • Supported over 220,000 people through our Future Digital Inclusion programme with the Department for Education
  • Recruited and supported 13 Pathfinders, as part of our NHS Widening Digital Participation programme, who are all testing new approaches to engaging people with digital and health
  • Began groundbreaking work with HM Courts & Tribunals – Justice.gov – to help them to use good service design principles to test the support people (who can’t use technology) need to use their new online service such as divorce
  • Begun working with three local authorities in Stockport, Salford and Leeds
  • Published our Theory of Change, created not in an ivory tower but grounded in practice, and which sets out how we, and the Online Centres, make change happen for excluded people
  • Our Chair, Liz Williams, and I have collaborated with DCMS and others on the Digital Skills Partnership Board
  • Worked with Google, Lloyds, and TalkTalk to deliver more to more people and supported some of their staff to volunteer in communities among other things
  • Carried out the first Randomised Control Trial with Money Advice Service & Toynbee Hall that proved the benefits of putting digital transactions into a financial capability programme
  • AND. Set up an office in Sydney, Australia, and recruited a new Australian digital inclusion network of 1,500 local partners, working with the Australian Government.
  • And, carried out a pilot in Kenya.

Yes, it’s been a wonderful year – and a little bit exhausting.

I think my staff and Board feel a little bit tired too! Thank you for your commitment and hard work that helped to achieve all of this.

The centres that we are celebrating as part of our Community Challenge Prize today are just 10 of the thousands within our Online Centres Network, who are the real heroes, who really know the power of technology for good, and I want to thank them all.

So the year ahead:

We’re going to continue being ambitious and focused.

Ambitious about the deep impact we can, together, have on people’s lives.

And ambitious about doing that at scale.

A rising tide does not lift all boats equally.

The benefits of digitisation are not shared equally.

This digital revolution is exacerbating age-old social divisions and inequalities.

So we must be ambitious about using our collective voices to make sure that we understand digital as a powerful tool to tackle complex social issues.

A tool for good.

A tool that must and should benefit everyone.

If you’d like to work with Good Things Foundation then do get in touch.

Our new Director of Design and Research Emma Stone has also been blogging about the Community Challenge Prize. Check it out on the Good Things Foundation website.

The Challenge Prize winners are:

  • Crisis Skylight: Birmingham

Smart travel guide: a guide to travelling in Birmingham for vulnerable people.

  • Bangladesh Youth & Cultural Shomiti: Leicester

Group bulk buying in the community.

  • Empowering Education: Rochdale

Introductory digital skills for isolated Muslim women.

  • Kensington Vision: Liverpool

Partnership with a local credit union to provide a new bike for £1 a day.

  • Learn for Life: Sheffield

Mobile creche to provide child care for single mothers in education.

  • GOAL Saltley: Birmingham

Awareness campaign around the use of prescription fines.   

  • TLC College: Wolverhampton

Personal energy assessment and assisted tariff switch.

  • Wai Yin Community: Manchester

Board game to help people manage their finances.

  • New Forest Council & New Forest Basics Banks: New Forest

Foodbank cookbook and cooking demonstrations.

  • High Wycombe Library: High Wycombe

Travel information workshops: using digital tools to plan more cost effective travel. 

Original source – Helen Milner

Football’s not coming home (yet), but we’re delighted to confirm that the annual Behavioural Exchange (BX) conference will be held in London next year.

Technically BX isn’t coming home either. The inaugural 2014 conference was held in Sydney, where it returned last month for BX2018. But it was London where BIT was established in 2010 – the world’s first government institution dedicated to the application of behavioural sciences to improve public policy. In just 8 years BI has gone global, with over 200 teams working in countries around the world and BIT offices in Sydney, Manchester, New York, Wellington and Singapore. We’re delighted to invite global BI practitioners and colleagues to the UK next year.

Since 2014 the BX conference has gone from strength to strength. It regularly sells out and attracts leading academics, policy wonks, and public sector managers to discuss new results and share practical lessons.

There are many academic behavioural science conferences around the world, and lots of events focused on public policy, but none that bring the two together. This was the specific niche BX aimed to fill. As Prof John List remarked, ‘the magic potion is the interaction between policy makers and academics’.

So, after successful stints in Sydney, London, Boston, Singapore, our London office is delighted to be hosting for a second time next year.

Tara Oliver, Managing Director of BETA – hosts of BX18 – hands the BX baton to David Halpern, Chief Executive of the Behavioural Insights Team

BX2018 was a huge success, and we want your ideas to make next year even bigger. If you have any thoughts on themes, formats, speakers or sessions, please send them on.

We and are fellow BX founding partners, NSW Government and Singapore Civil Service College, are also looking for a host for 2020. If you work in policy and behavioural insights and would like to host BX20, there is a short EOI process that will be open until the end of August. BX is a global conference and for 2020 we’re particularly keen to hear from organisations in the Americas.

Original source – Behavioural Insights Team

Hello everyone!

My name is Regan, and I’m new to dxw digital this week. I was born and raised in southern Ontario, Canada, and after graduating from university I decided to kickstart my post-grad career in London. I completed a Journalism program, but during my studies discovered I have a greater passion for digital marketing. Most of my skills came from volunteering with small businesses to help with their social media presence, marketing growth, and blogs. During my job search, I began to realise that many companies don’t see hands-on work as sufficient experience. I trusted that I’d find the right company who would give me an opportunity to grow my skills and progress with them. Alas, here I am at dxw.


I believe it’s immensely important to work with a company who values diversity and supports staff from various backgrounds. It spoke volumes to me when I learned that this is of great importance for our team. It not only reflects our company but also creates a positive feel of opportunity and growth within the office.


Within the next year, I’m hoping to advance my strategic marketing abilities while integrating new ideas which will help influence the social media presence of dxw. I know I’ll learn so much from working under the wing of the individuals on our team. I’m looking forward to attending conferences,  such as UK Health Camp and learning further from other leaders.

Mes Passions

I’ve always been passionate about helping others, especially those who are less fortunate than I am. Last summer I spent time volunteering for Spitalfields Crypt Trust, a charity organisation for the homeless in London and plan on going back again this year. I’m very excited about discovering and learning about new concepts to assist the public sector.

Other great passions of mine involve eating, cooking, and exploring new places! I recently got back from Crete, Greece, where I explored the beautiful town of Chania. I’m hoping to head down to Portugal soon and visit my grandparents who live in Aveiro, and I also want to explore the coasts of the UK with some surfing in Cornwall.  I thrive off travelling and eating. I’m always happy to chat, and would love to hear some suggestions about cool places to explore here in the UK and Europe.

I look forward to getting to know all of you, and thank you for the warm welcome! I’m very happy to be a part of this team.

Original source – dxw

Service design mistakes I’ve made, and the big lessons learned

As a service designer, I spend a lot of my time selling the value of design thinking alongside practising service design doing. This week, I spoke about how to sell service design at the inaugural International Design in Government Conference.

I choose to use the word sell intentionally. When you’re working in the public sector, where user or ‘human-centred’ design is still a relatively new concept, every conversation counts towards showing the value of thinking and working in this way.

Starting out in the public sector, I made a few mistakes. Here’s what I learned, so you don’t have to.

Mistake 1 — The answer to your prayers

In my first few design roles I went in all guns blazing. In reality, I wasn’t the service design angel come to bestow wisdom and light. I was kind of a burden.

To many people, service design felt like the latest bandwagon like so many other industry trends that had come and gone in the past. It wasn’t seen as a transformative way of thinking about how we can continuously design and improve public services.

What did I learn? Listen and be empathetic to the culture that you’re working in.

When working with new teams, you are delivering a service of service design. That has to start by listening to and understanding their needs, and taking the time to understand the culture you’re working in. Trust me, I tried to get a room full of senior leaders to work with emojis and let’s just say it did not work out well.

My mistake was in assuming that my culture and ways of working were better. Understanding culture to build relationships is important.

Mistake 2 — A horse in a field of llamas

I am different. At times, I purposefully make myself different to everyone I’m working within an effort to push against a teams norms and culture. It’s great on one hand but can be alienating on the other. It has also meant that in past work people saw me and the change I was bringing as a threat and not as part of the team. I stood out like a sore thumb, or like a horse in a field of llamas.

It can often feel like you’re the odd one out and that isn’t a bad thing. But, if people don’t know what you’re doing and more importantly why, then you’re losing the battle. Finding the right time to work with teams is crucial. I needed to get my timing right to know when to show them what service design is. If you’re standing up and everyone is sitting down, it can be difficult to effect change.

What did I learn? Build the right relationships and get your timing right.

Don’t focus your energy and time trying to convince people who don’t want to listen, instead look for people who catch on quickly to the possibilities of service design. They are your allies.

You were brought in for a reason and you won’t be the only one who wants to change things. By working, investing and focusing your energy on these key people, you will find that it becomes easier to introduce new ideas and ways of working.

It’s possible to be the voice of change for the people who want it, and together you can create more momentum to convince others in your team or organisation.

Mistake 3 — Bold ambition without context

I’ve often gone into work with teams thinking that everyone had already bought into what I was there to do. They hadn’t. I assumed they were ready and ignored their own journey. I would make big provocative statements to gain enthusiasm that were met with disdain.

Along with that, I didn’t put in the time or effort of showing my workings, or the detail and thinking process behind my ideas. I expected people to “just get it”. These were teams who were delivering digital projects, why wouldn’t they get it?

What did I learn? Show your workings.

This way you can bring people on a journey with you. By going back to basics, I started to understand where people were and could visualise what was needed to get them from point A to point B. Just as I needed to understand the team, they needed to understand me. I needed to show and explain my work, combining big and bold ambitions with small actions.

So what?

Speaking about these challenges at the International Design in Government Conference, it was reassuring to hear that I wasn’t the only one to face similar challenges. People shared stories of language barriers and teams getting lost in design jargon. There were also conversations about how to do it alone and how to keep going.

Public sector organisations can be difficult places to work for a designer. It’s not the complete answer. But, if you start by:

  • listening to people and being empathetic
  • building the right relationships with the right timing
  • showing your work

you will have a better chance selling service design to teams and senior stakeholders. It might take awhile to do, and it’s worth the perseverance.

Follow Vim on Twitter @ThatGirlVim and see her at WalkingWhiskeyWellness where she will be speaking about using service design to build culture in teams and organisations.

A horse in a field of llamas was originally published in FutureGov on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

Original source – FutureGov