This opinion piece was written by Kit Collingwood, a deputy director at the UK’s Department for Work & Pensions. It also appears in our government innovation newsfeed.
On 29th June 2017, 186 people came together in London to talk about how we could work across disciplines to make government more effective.
I had realised that there are “policy profession” events or “service design” events, but nowhere we could get together to break down barriers and talk about shared problems and goals. This creates mistrust and antipathy, and means that siloed thinking can thrive.
I wanted to change that. I wanted a place where anyone, regardless of their profession, discipline or background, could come to talk about government. Whether that’s how government can give better advice, offer better services, or become a better place to work.
“I want to be part of reforming government for the benefit of citizens, with a focus on making it fit for the internet age”
I want to be part of reforming government for the benefit of citizens, with a focus on making it fit for the internet age. I got a team together to arrange that 29th June event, with these simple ideas in mind. We called it One Team Government.
But since then our thinking has evolved. We want this to go beyond a single event: we want One Team Government to be a lasting movement, a positive player in public sector reform. Below are our current ideas on what we want it to be. We’d love your help shaping them.
So what is One Team Government?
At its heart, it’s a community, united and guided by a set of principles. Together, we are working to create a movement of reform through practical action.
The community is made up of people who are passionate about public sector reform (we deliberately want this to be wider than just government), with the emphasis on improving the services we offer to citizens and how we work. We believe the public sector can be brilliant, and we’re committed to making it so.
We need diverse perspectives, with people of all sectors, areas, countries and interests helping. We think we’re unstoppable if we work together.
We want the One Team Government movement to be guided by a set of principles, and you can help us develop these:
1. Work in the open and positively
We’re a community; everything we do will be documented and made to share. Where conversations happen that can’t be shared, the wider learning still will be. This is a reform cooperative, where we choose to be generous with knowledge. Ideas are infectious; we’ll share ours early and often.
We will be optimistic and positive in our approach to our work. We believe that things can change, and we will take our part in making that happen.
2. Take practical action
Although talking is vital, we will be defined more by the things we do than the things we say. We will create change by taking small, measured steps every day — everything from creating a new contact in a different area or discipline, sharing something we’ve written, or giving our time to contribute to others’ work — and encouraging others to do the same. We will document what they are.
3. Experiment and iterate
We don’t think there’s one way to “do” reform. We will experiment with design, and put user-focused service design thinking into everything we do, learning from and with each other. We will test, iterate and reflect. We will be humble in our approach, focusing on asking the right questions to get to the best answers.
We will embrace small failures as opportunities to learn. We won’t get everything right, and we won’t try to.
4. Be diverse and inclusive
Our approach to inclusiveness and diversity is driven by a simple desire to better represent the citizens we serve. We’ll put effort into making that happen by balancing our events, making sure our teams are reflective of society at large and by making sure we have a range of citizen and team voices in the room with us.
Our ideas will be created by a diverse group of people, drawn from the widest possible sets of views and experiences. We understand that people have different views so will rely on generating a quality conversation rather than reaching total agreement. We will value each voice that wants to contribute. We will work to avoid groupthink.
5. Care deeply about citizens
We work for users and other citizens affected by our work; everything we do will be guided by our impact on them. We will talk to them, early and often; we will use the best research methods to understand them better. We will be distinguished by our empathy — for users and for each other. The policies that we develop will be tested with real people as early as possible, and refined with their needs in mind.
6. Work across borders
We believe that diverse views make our outcomes and services better. We will be characterised by our work to break down boundaries between groups. This means we’ll work across:
- Professions: we will make policy and delivery the same thing, building empathy and understanding between policy, digital, operations and more.
- Departments: every One Team Government piece of work should be shared with other departments, through show-and-tells or sharing documentation.
- Sectors: our community will include think tanks, academics, charities and private sector organisations. This will make our ideas stronger and wider.
- Borders: we will be global public servants, seeking opportunities to find common ground with other nations and sharing experiences with them.
7. Embrace technology
We are passionate about public sector reform for the internet age. We will be a technology-enabled community, using online tools to collaborate, network and share. We will put the best of digital thinking into policy and service design, using technology to make us quicker, smarter, better and more data-driven. We will help to shape a public sector we can be proud to work in in the 21st century. — Kit Collingwood
Want to help shape the movement? Here’s how to attend the first ever OneTeamGov Global event on 16 July, presented in partnership with Apolitical.
A version of this post was originally published on Medium.
(Picture credit: Flickr/OneTeamGov)