We were invited to do something (for us) quite ground-breaking a couple of weeks ago. At a meeting of all the most senior managers in the organisation, where the Future Landscape groups were scheduled to lead some discussions and give a presentation, we were asked if we could report on the event using our internal social network. This has never happened in quite this way before. We sometimes have an approved corporate Twitter feed from certain events, and all council meetings are webcast, but this was real-time unfiltered opinion and banter and highlights. (And Star Wars references, obviously. I’m afraid there’s no way of stopping this.)
It was so much fun …
We weren’t 100% professional, and we weren’t 100% polite, and I wouldn’t even like to guess at how little we were on-corporate-message – but it really worked. Colleagues who couldn’t be at the event got a window into the content and the discussions, and the organisation’s leaders got a taste of how engaged and energised staff could be. We may even have enlisted a very senior Yammer champion who is keen to see a repeat at other future events, so watch this space …
Looking back at the transcript of the event, here were some of the things that stuck out for me;
We need people with the right attitude.
What is the right attitude? We don’t know. How do we select or recruit for it? No idea. How do we know what it is? Because when people have it things happen the way we need them to, and the attitude and the enthusiasm and the excitement and the energy spreads far beyond the original catalyst.
“The best way to stifle innovation is to tell everyone that they have to start innovating :)”
“Change which is pushed can only go so far.”
“Lots of conversation around culture change inside and outside Devon…”
“Question about elected members and how we can build sophistication in their decision making.”
My challenge: Members address the needs that customers tell them about. When we say ‘sophisticated’, don’t we really mean ‘make them see it our way’? (i.e. make it fit what officers would prefer to do). OK, there may be technical or operation considerations that we need to make members aware of. But when you get right down to it, they are in charge. If they have a strategic goal our whole reason for existence is to support and realise it if possible. Let’s not lose sight of that.
“Great point – it’s not Spend we need to do differently, it’s how we plan services. The money follows the strategic decisions.”
We Will Rock You
The Chief Exec’s closing reflections … the event made him quite nostalgic. He remembered back to the mindset of how it was when we were new to the organisation and could clearly see everything that’s wrong or poorly done, instead of just accepting ‘that’s the way things are’ … when you first start your job and are uncomfortable with the subliminal messages of the organisation.
“Sometimes … just get on with it. Don’t wait, don’t over-strategise.”
My thoughts: This ‘angry young man’ change-the-world attitude – some of us have never lost this, never grown out of it. Why is that? Are we special, resistant to training, immature or amazing? If we want more of it, how do we spread the culture and infect others?
“Social networks tend to flatten hierarchies and share knowledge rather than it being locked up.”
“Give people who are enthusiastic the tools and let them get on with it creatively.”
ICT staff need more experience of receiving compliments and blowing their own trumpets … they’re clearly not getting enough of this at the moment. We should make a point of being nice to them at least once per day, rather than casting them as the pantomime villains.
” … we are the managers, we manage the money and we should step up to that rather than using Finance or systems or processes as a reason why nothing can change.”
I counted one use of ‘paradigm’, two of ‘synergies’ and several instances of ‘digital by default’. You know who you are.
Views from the top table
“Great mix across groups. Important for CLT to NOT get too involved.”
“CLT need to relax a bit…. and trust the process.”
“CLT feel the worst thing they could do now is get involved. Step back, have confidence and don’t stifle the process.”
“… a fascinating process, also we were the first to hear the groups sharing between them. Overlaps with digital innovation. Issues with time and showed that time can be found.”
“I enjoyed the energy, the new perspective, the slight hint of anarchy*. Very aware that this is just stage 1, want to get more staff involved especially younger staff and those not County Hall based, balance creativity with practicality.”
“… being taken out of ‘business as usual’, being given the space to be creative, and encouraged to think the unthinkable – all very positive.”
*Roger and I have no idea what could possibly have been meant by this.