Raising awareness and supporting delivery
6 January 2021
One of our priorities at the Centre is to help organisations and their leaders develop greater understanding and confidence around digital. In our discovery phase last year, we heard that there can be a lack of understanding of what ‘digital’ means, that not all senior leaders understand how to implement digital transformation and that many public sector staff are keen to get involved, but are actively seeking help and guidance.
This matters because the successful use of digital depends on people at all levels of an organisation understanding and getting involved with new approaches to designing and delivering services. As we’ve said before: Digital change isn’t just about technology, it’s about a change of culture.
This change of culture includes focusing on user needs, before designing services to meet them, and also delivering those services in ways that are more collaborative, iterative and open. This in turn means changes to
- how teams are set up,
- how projects are funded and governed,
- the skills staff need, and
- how they communicate about the work they’re doing.
All of this needs to be understood and championed by public sector leaders if their organisations are going to make the most of the digital opportunity and deliver services that work for the people that use them.
What we did
Our digital squad had already kicked off to demonstrate the benefits of these approaches in a really hands-on way, working directly with Adult Social Care teams in three local authorities. However, we knew that for this work to be successful, others in the local authorities we are working with would need to understand and support what was going on – particularly at a leadership level.
To help address this we partnered with We Are Service Works to develop a session that would do two things. Firstly – we wanted to introduce, demystify and bring to life some of the key concepts and ways of working that would be used by the Squad, so that the team would know what to expect and how they could most usefully support and interact with the project. Secondly, we wanted the session to inspire and provoke a broader more strategic discussion amongst leaders – about the possibilities that these ways of working might open up for them, how this might fit with their particular challenges and opportunities, and what they could do personally to take this forward.
‘Digital services are about a lot more than technology. This session demonstrates this, focusing on the need to design services around the needs of users and taking a more agile and modern way of developing services. Better services, delivered at less cost to the taxpayer and creating systems that staff enjoy working in – that is what this session is about.’, Karen Jones, Chief Executive, Neath Port Talbot County Council
For the first (alpha) version we worked with We Are Service Works to develop a session for a mixed group of senior leaders and people involved with service delivery. Based on feedback from this alpha we then decided to develop a specific version for leaders, focused on their needs and perspective, as well as a version for delivery people. These separate sessions were then put in place to be delivered to (as a “beta”) the Corporate Leadership Team (CLT) at Blaenau Gwent, the All-Members Group at Neath Port Talbot and the Policy Development Forum at Torfaen. The Delivery session was also run with teams from each of the three councils.
How it’s been received
Over 100 people have participated in the sessions so far, and the feedback has been really positive. It’s also been great to see the quality and range of discussion that’s been provoked amongst leaders – discussion about things like how to
- create the conditions for change,
- inject these principles into current ways of working,
- celebrate successes and
- how best to build user research capabilities.
It’s clear that there is a real appetite to understand these ways of working, to think differently about service design and delivery, and to make the most of digital.
This year in particular it’s been difficult for leadership teams to find the time to step back and have these sorts of discussions, so we’re really pleased that the sessions we’ve run have provided an opportunity for that, and also for leaders to grow their confidence in this area and develop a shared understanding of some of the concepts and terminology that are going to be such an important part of service delivery from now on.
We’re now able to offer this leadership session to all local authorities in Wales. It’s been updated to ensure that it’s relevant to councils who aren’t directly working with a squad, and also to reflect the new Digital Service Standards for Wales, and the emerging digital strategy. All Chief Executives will be receiving an invitation to book a session for their leadership team, to take place between now and the end of March 2021.