Monday, March 22, 2010

Landing a man on the networked moon

Gordon Brown's plans to 'create innovation and personisation (is that customer-centric for the public sector?) in the delivery of public services will require rather more than faster broadband and a centre to understand and exploit the semantic web.

"Companies that use technology to interact with their users are positioning themselves for the future, and government must do likewise. Mygov marks the end of the one-size-fits-all, man-from-the-ministry-knows-best approach to public services.
"Mygov will constitute a radical new model for how public services will be delivered and for how citizens engage with government - making interaction with government as easy as internet banking or online shopping. This open, personalised platform will allow us to deliver universal services that are also tailored to the needs of each individual; to move from top-down, monolithic websites broadcasting public service information in the hope that the people who need help will find it - to government on demand."
Gordon Brown, PM. read full transcript

For Government,this is truly a mission on the scale of landing a man on the moon.

Not because it seems almost impossible to do, but because the scale of change, the number of barriers to overcome are so large, that essentially the UK system of government, the control from the centre model that matched the industrial age, must be utterly transformed to match the demands of the networked age.

I fear the announcement Brown made today in London is fundamentally too focused on the technology, too little on the organisational changes required to deliver the vision.

The UK Government, like every other government, like every other business, like every other organisation, must be redesigned on the principles of a networked business to deliver its purpose through a platform approach.

In this way they reduce the transaction costs of making things happen; turning a shared idea into an efficient 'fit' through the bringing together of communities of purpose.

There are no hard edges to networked organisations. There can't be. To scale and to enable they have to go beyond traditional boundaries. And they are not made by technology.

The fact that the technology enables transparency and connectedness like never before IS critical. But the desire for, and organisational design for, transparency and connectedness (for sharing; for scale through participation; for search to discover and help us organise through connecting us and our data; and for enabling the always on/not-always-available nature of the web (asychronous/synchronous) is the critical part - not the technology enabling it.

So Government - and all organisations aiming for longevity in this networked world of ours - must adapt (funny how my diagram below looks a little like rocket... perhaps it could land a man on the networked moon...):

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The rate of change is so rapid it's difficult for one person to keep up to speed. Let's pool our thoughts, share our reactions and, who knows, even reach some shared conclusions worth arriving at?