An afternoon with the Digital Team…

By Adrian Clarke at Buckinghamshire County Council

As part of the ongoing alignment effort to dovetail the work and approaches of the BCC Digital and ICT teams, I recently spent a fascinating afternoon with Matthew and his team and wanted to share a few thoughts that stayed with me after the session.

People aren’t talking about technology

This is a point that would probably be a surprise to a lot of people. This is digital right? Surely that means the air is full of tech-talk and impermeable jargon?  Wrong. The buzz (and there is a buzz) is more around desired outcomes, the business process, what needs to be delivered and the approach  being used to deliver it and how it could be improved.  Of course technology is part of the conversation but it is very much a means rather than an end.

Know what’s flexible and what isn’t

Though the approach to individual projects within the digital team is very  flexible and responsive to the shape of the particular project in hand, this is in contrast to the framework that projects are delivered within which is very clearly defined, collectively owned and rigorously applied.  Team operating and design principles, tools and methodologies  have been  discussed and agreed and are visibly on display around the office.  This clarity acts as a daily touchstone for the team to ensure the key elements that will support  delivery  are kept front and centre and are not unwittingly diluted or bypassed. More importantly, this ability to help define the environment you operate within is an important group engagement mechanism and also serves as a cultural lever as it clearly states what is important to the team.

The quality of the engagement determines the quality of the output

This is not a principle unique to Digital but it certainly applies here.  Great things can be achieved with a shared clarity of purpose and  resolve between a supplier and a customer. If the engagement gets too lopsided then the quality of the of project/outcome can be significantly compromised or, in extreme cases, derailed before it has even really started.

You need to be prepared to draw lines… and then step across them

One thing that came across loud and clear in talking to Mathew’s  team was the willingness and need to facilitate the desired outcome even in less than ideal circumstances. Clear roles and responsibilities are obviously key to any endeavour  but so also is a willingness to step beyond boundaries in order to support each other and the goals of the group. Being prepared to step into the each other’s shoes helps give a shared perspective both of challenges and solutions.

All in all a very worthwhile and informative session and one I would wholeheartedly recommend to others who wish to “Think Digital” as well as “Do Digital”!

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