I’m responsible for making sure all our major projects are set up for successful delivery. This includes a whole range of things, like:
- building and refurbishing schools
- running big procurement exercises and managing contracts
- introducing new qualifications
- reforming children’s social care
- setting up new regulators and arm’s length bodies
- building and running new digital services
As part of this work, I’d really like to help and encourage people working on major projects to work more openly, blogging about what they’re working on and what they’re learning.
This is important because it helps us connect with other people who are working on similar challenges, builds trust and confidence in the work we’re doing and generally makes things better.
This isn’t something that our organisation is used to doing, yet, outside of the world of digital service design and delivery. For people new to this way of working who are getting ready to take the plunge, it’s helpful to see how others do it.
So last week I asked the community on Twitter for tips on where to look for guidance and inspiration if you’re a civil servant who is new to blogging. This is what they said (along with a cheeky few of my own favourites).
Big thanks to everyone who gave their tips. Please add comments to this post if you have more to share.
Giles Turnbull wrote a great guide to blogging over on the Defra Digital blog. It’s badged as advice for agile teams but pretty much everything here can be applied more widely.
18F, the US Government digital team, have produced a handbook on blogging - again it’s aimed at digital teams but it’s guidance anyone could follow. The team's blog is active and interesting so well worth a look, too.
Blogs and bloggers to read and follow
National government, Parliament and arm's length bodies:
- The Office for National Statistics blog, where ONS share its progress in introducing new digital services and ways of working
- The Parliamentary Digital Service blog
- The HM Courts & Tribunals Service blog is pretty regular and includes posts from the leadership team and wider organisation as well as digital delivery teams (this is an approach we’d really like to emulate here in DfE, because working in the open is for everyone, not just digital teams)
- The Ministry of Justice digital blog has regular posts, mainly about digital delivery and also some on user-centred policy design
- The Government Digital Service blog is still worth following, with regular content about things the team is doing - look out especially anything by Pete Herlihy for an excellent combination of delivery, learning and entertainment
- Our own Employment and Skills Funding Agency digital blog, where the team blogs about building and running the apprenticeships digital service, amongst other things
- The NHS Digital blog
- The IPPR blog
Individual public sector bloggers:
- Will Myddelton’s blog at http://www.myddelton.co.uk/ - personal, thoughtful and fascinating posts about Will’s experience as a user researcher in government
- Matt Edgar’s blog where he writes incredibly thoughtfully and interestingly about his work in the NHS (and back in the archive there are posts about his time in central government, too)
- Ade Adewumni’s blog on data in and around government; see also Ade’s various posts on the Government Digital Service blog during her time there.
- Ben Holliday’s blog about his time as a user researcher in and around government
- Matt Jukes blogs regularly about all kinds of things relating to digital government
- Amanda Smith’s blog where she shares what she’s learning, what she’s working on and what she’s thinking about over at the Ministry of Justice
- Stefan Czerniawski’s blog - relatively infrequent but no less insightful and interesting and also his more frequent Strategic Reading newsletter, which gives a weekly summary of interesting blogs in and around government - sign up here: https://www.strategicreading.uk/subscribe-to-the-weekly-email/
- Croydon digital service - a new blog set up by new Chief Digital Officer Neil Williams, still early but will definitely be one to watch
- Essex County Council’s digital blog - also relatively new but already looking like one to watch
- North East Lincolnshire’s digital team has an active and interesting blog, mainly about digital delivery, user-centred design and smart cities
- Brighton & Hove’s digital blog
Canada, Australia and New Zealand:
- John Kenney, a Canadian public servant who blogs on his own personal blog about innovation and public service transformation in Canada
- Also in Canada, the Canadian Digital Service blog
- Pia Waugh’s blog about her user-centred design work in New Zealand and more recently in New South Wales, Australia
There’s a community of people who write weekly blogposts about what they’ve been up to and what they’ve learned, helpfully collated at https://weeknot.es/ I particularly like Cate McLaurin’s regular, thoughtful and lovely posts, like this recent post.
They’re also a lovely bunch, so if you wanted to get in touch with any of them to ask for tips I wouldn’t hesitate. I’ve seen pretty much every single one of them be open and generous in response to questions and pleas for help at one time or another.
It’s pretty inspiring looking at all these blogs and bloggers together. I can’t wait for more of my lovely DfE colleagues to get stuck in.
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