February 5th 2014 | Westminster

Online discussion - Nov 18th

'Embracing cultural change: is a shift in mentality required if government is to 'go digital'?'

1pm-2pm, November 18th, 2014

Panellists:

  • Rachael Hunter, Digital Capability Project Manager, HMRC
  • Elaine Gladstone, IT Project Manager, DWP ITPD
  • Manav Mehan, Systems & Software Engineering Lead, Tata Consultancy Services

What can the civil service do to instigate the cultural change imperative to transforming public services? Find out what policy experts, industry representatives and counterparts from government departments think by scrolling through the comments from the last 'Going Digital' webchat.

Comments

john.nassoori

It's only a week until the second 'Going Digital' webchat, which will examine cultural change in the civil service. Sign-up by using the 'Register Now' button in the top right-hand corner of the website and we'll send you details of how to take part next Tuesday.

john.nassoori

Here's some thoughts from the DWP's Elaine Gladstone, ahead of tomorrow's debate: “A digital culture currently exists in areas of the DWP organisation so it isn’t a new thing. E-services are in place having been developed and supported by mixed teams (Business / IT / Suppliers) with end user / customer input. In DWP, digital academies are in place to develop new skills and also enhance existing skills to support the future operating model. The benefits of this should be promoted as it will enable the organisation to have the capability and flexibility to develop and operate services quicker and cheaper in a constantly evolving digital world. It should be recognised that the move to a new organisational model and shift to a digital culture will not happen overnight. Digital change is not that different from any other major organisational changes previously implemented, and to embrace it we should learn lessons from previous implementations. We must ensure that we have a clear Vision and Strategy with supporting Communication, HR and Training plans. Get these right and people will on-board. However it should be recognised that not everyone will embrace digital change, but if you convince 80 % of people then that will be a success. The key to achieving this will be to communicate, sell the benefits, and address people’s negativity and concerns in a positive manner.” To respond or post your own comments, simply register by using the button in the top right-hand corner of the website and login.

john.nassoori

Our other civil service panellist, Rachael Hunter, sheds some light on the digital skills her colleagues are already equipped with - and the barriers they face in using them: "Over the past few months I have been looking at the digital skills and capabilities of staff in my business area and have been pleasantly surprised with the results I have gathered. A lot of people have a much greater depth of knowledge and understanding than they are giving themselves credit for, mainly attributed to the number of people using digital tools and techniques for personal reasons, such as engaging with social media and using different hardware than they have used traditionally in the work place. In a number of cases I have seen that people don’t realise how capable they are using different tools, as often people are self taught so don’t rate their levels of understanding as highly as they perhaps should. The key for me now is to help users shift the focus of their capabilities into useable techniques within the workplace. In that respect I feel there is definitely need for a shift in mentality between how users interact with technology personally and professionally. There have been a number of barriers in place within the workplace (such as access to social media and concerns over maintaining correct security levels) but there has been a recent shift in enabling users greater access to a number of these tools which can only assist in narrowing the gap and confidence that users have when using digital tools in the workplace and I am excited to see how far we can transform the department through use of digital tools. I believe this will transpose across to our customers in a similar way, a significant number of people are now using digital tools in one form or another, and the key to driving success for the government to ‘go digital’ is to ensure that people feel comfortable using the tools and are confident that the tools will be reliable and accurate – developing a once and done approach."

john.nassoori

A warm welcome to everyone who is logged-in early and planning to take part in the second 'Going Digital' webchat. We'll be officially kicking-off at 1pm, but do feel free to post comments, questions or responses to our panellists thoughts from this point onwards.

rachael.hunter@...

Good afternoon everyone, My name is Rachael Hunter and i'm currently working as a Digital Capability project manager within HMRC. I'd love to hear your thoughts and comments on where people see the Civil Service in relation to how digital culture is being embraced, where you think we are making strides forward and how you think we can move ahead in future.

john.nassoori

Thanks Rachael! Look forward to hearing more over the course of the next hour

elainegladstone

Afternoon, Im elaine gladstone an IT project manager in DWP.

john.nassoori

Nice to hear from you Elaine! Look forward to hearing your thoughts on all matters digital

john.nassoori

With our panellists now logged-in, I'll get the debate off and running with a question that arose from Rachael's and Elaine's opening comments: is there a danger that a centrally-imposed digital strategy prevents independent thinking and ownership of projects, both critical to kick-starting a change in culture?

elainegladstone

i dont believe so....it depends on how much flexibility there is in the Strategy. THere are some standards which all Depts should adhered to - accessibility for example, others aspects should enable depts / project managers some flexibility in how projects are delivered within the constraints outlined in the Strategy.

ManavMehan

Hi I'm Steve Grafton standing in for Manav! I'm currently working as an Agile Transformation coach in Aviva - mostly on the Digital programme.

john.nassoori

Thanks for standing in Steve. We've just kicked off with a question about the importance of independent thinking

rachael.hunter@...

Personally i've found it extremely useful to have a central digital strategy, when used as a blueprint, having a centralised resource has helped me to start off thinking about issues that may not have been immediately apparent within the project environment.

ManavMehan

I agree. Some projects have to fail early and the ones that don't support the digital strategy have to be good candidates for this.

ManavMehan

Anything centrally imposed will have a constraint. No one wants to be told how to change, people need to be responsible for their own journey. In Aviva there are occasional hackathons where we remove all constaints and see what can be achieved in 24 hours (straight through)

ManavMehan

When execs see what is possible we try to get them to recognise they are responsible for removing constraints and impediments.

justandy

Hello, I'm Andy Cole an IT Service Manager with DWP. I wonder if having an 'imposed' strategy sends out the message that we are only looking for certain ideas that fit, and as such might dissuade people from putting forward what they see as more radical ideas.

john.nassoori

Thanks for your post Andy. Any examples of these constrained ideas that spring to mind?

justandy

I've seen new starters join perhaps from college or outside industry who come with a wealth of digital skills: they are sometimes told they can't do things because of what seems to them to be an arbitrary issue. I'm just trying to think of some specific examples!

ManavMehan

Stategy by it's nature is imposed, and I don't believe that work should be a free for all but aligned to vision, values, and goals.

ManavMehan

There is a bit of a danger in having a central digital platform team as the flow of work is heavily constrained. Having a value chain which is visible and shows where time and effort is wasted can help. Having digital capability aligned to Product is useful.

rachael.hunter@...

I can see your point Andy, it depends on the general cultural working environment you're in I guess. I've been actively encouraged from the start to think about what hasn't already been considered and how I can make the team's ideas work to fit our own business needs.

jack markiewicz

Hi Perhaps I am being a bit thick but I find it really difficult to undertstand what we mean by Digital........ I also think that it means different things to different people. What do others think? jack

ManavMehan

I tend to think about "Omni channel". In some cases customers do NOT want to engage on digital channel. They want to talk to someone. So try to get some information or data to make sure you're making the right choices. E.g. At a call centre ask "If this was available on line, would you have used it"

elainegladstone

i agree Jack, people i talk to say we're Digital already and have been for sometime - so find the term confusing? maybe the term needs to be re-defined? I think its about a new way of working (or an old way if youve been in DWP for 20 yrs plus as i have) where we bring development inhouse and involve customers / end users throughout thelifecycle and deliver change faster

Elizabeth Paulo HMRC

Hi Rachel, my name is Elizabeth Paulo and I am the comms lead for the Operational Delivery Profession Support Team in HMRC. I am very keen that members of the profession embrace all things digital and the need to look critically at their own digital capability but I am also very conscious that people may need support in doing this, are there going to be any digital development packages available for people in the department in addition to learning on CSL?

jack markiewicz

Elizabeth, there is a lot of development products aorund and what we are struggling with is what different people need to know at what levels acorss the organisation. So, we have developed a product that suggests different interventions acorss different grades and is also profession specific (we have one for HR) and allows a flexible appraoch to development using videos etc to deliver the development.

rachael.hunter@...

That is something that I have encountered a lot during my research phase Jack, Digital means a lot of different things to different people and getting a consistent message across has to be a key starting factor.

ManavMehan

I like a one page poster that explains what it means in our "context". And post it up!

jack markiewicz

Rachael, I suppose the way in which we , at DWP, want to address digital is to start from the cusotmer perspective and ask them what they want to see and what we can deliver. It is only then that we can buold products and capabilities to address customer needs.

ManavMehan

I like to think about Impact mapping -> Why are we doing this, Who is impacted, and what changes must me make to "help" or "hinder" them. This results in a set of features and capabilities aligned to strategy and goals.

rachael.hunter@...

Hi Elizabeth, that is something that i'm presently researching, what do our people need and what the best delivery methods would be. I have heard about Digital Academies that are being utilised within DWP, but perhaps Elaine could elaborate a little more on how they have been working for staff?

elainegladstone

hi rachel..i cant talk too much for the acadamies that the business are running, in IT staff , including newly recruited IT apprentices, volunteered to attend the academy where they are trained over a 16 week period on a range of skills - project management methodologies (agle), IT skills - java etc..in order to support digital projects coming online. Feedback from the initial round of attendees has been positive and over 100 expressions of interest have been submitted from IT staff across all grades and skill sets for a place on future academies.

justandy

I agree Jack - 'Digital' strikes a fear with some staff. I've heard conversations between people saying if they encourage our customers to go digital they'll be doing themselves out of a job. I think we need to be better at showing them the benefits it will bring.

ManavMehan

There are always going to be things people will not want to do on digital. I am seeing more innovation and chance to "try things out", easier and quicker on digital.

ManavMehan

I've found with networks for project teams, having a clear view of their maturity, and what it takes to make them better together is critical. Being clear about team required behaviours seems to have more impact than pure technical skills.

scott.mcclelland

Hi, I am Scott a Strategy Analyst in the Home Office. I wondered how you strike the balance between offering services that are ‘digital by default’ and the potential for possibly excluding some customer groups?

ManavMehan

As long by default, doesn't mean without thinking it's fine. Before doing anything have a clear customer view (through personas or however you want to do it) and make sure you have clear customer outcomes.

rachael.hunter@...

I agree Steve, I tend to think of it as the 'so what' approach, yes we can do x, y, and z but 'so what?' what will that add to the situation? is it easier, faster, less complicated or more cost effective than before - if not where is the added value?

john.nassoori

Some interesting thoughts on what 'digital' really means, the support available to improving digital skills and the potential drawbacks/positives of a centrally-led digital strategy. justandy raises another interesting point: is there a residual 'fear' about using digital channels, particularly given cyber security concerns?

rachael.hunter@...

Hi Scott, this is where 'assisted digital' comes into its own.We know that not all our customers are online - often because they don’t have access to a machine or connectivity or because they lack the motivation, ability, skills or confidence. Inclusion is about ensuring that as we continue to become a digital by default, we’ll have to be careful that we don’t leave any of these ‘digitally excluded’ customers behind.

jack markiewicz

Rachael If you were to ask my aging mother in law to download an app and claim her benefit via an app, she would think I have gone bonkers and run a mile. But if you said to her that we will ring her and do business over the phone she wold be fine with that. So there needs to be a multi channel appraoch to ensure we do not exclude people.

justandy

From the other end of the spectrum many of our customers have not just the technical ability but the absolute expectation that they should be able to access our services digitally. Sometimes I think we can be tempted to pitch ourselves at the wrong level.

ManavMehan

If you have an "aging mother in law persona" I'd expect someone on the team to be asked "What would Mildred think"?

Claudia

So best practice is to consider your customer journey and consider how each persona in Steve's terms has different requirements and needs so that we include rather than exclude by default?

Ian2R

An interesting original question - I am Ian Richardson, Defra. An inbuilt assumption in your original question is around the leadership culture and style if you have a 'centralised strategy' - if it is strong 'command and control' then you will inhibit strong performance in the agile and digital world. Thus, the civil service needs to be a lot 'loser'. A central vision/purpose with a more federated implementation allowing leaders to emerge - I read this recently http://blog.cutter.com/2014/11/04/managing-transitions-with-a-post-heroic-culture/ New approaches will be required - showing the big picture, while allowing groups to collaborate

jack markiewicz

Ian, I know this is now dated but Tom Peter's spoke about adopting a lose / tight fit in his books on TQM (total quality management - remember that??) and it seems to me that the digital strategy needs to adopt a tight fit for the really important central principles and lose fit to allow innovation in other areas

ManavMehan

Would you guys recognise the phrase "Frozen Middle". Would you get what I mean by that?

Ian2R

Agree with these two comments - how good are we at unfreezing the middle to allow innovation to to be implemented at the front-line (customer facing)? :: you may be interested in the MIX MashUp agenda http://www.mixmashup.org/ taking place in New York.

rachael.hunter@...

I completely agree Jack, its all about finding the right balance, but we mustn't rule out the fact that whilst people may not be familiar with technology or different ways to access services and information that they will necessarily be adverse to finding out more. Some people will never engage with digital services for a range of reasons, but others are often just unsure until they have been given a helping hand, if they feel that trying something new will be of benefit to them, so for example being able to complete a short online form rather than waiting half an hour on hold would certainly be desirable for many people

elainegladstone

I agree we wont capture everyone and there wil always be people who need guidance / support as there is currently so we ned a mix of channels. During the transition should we be looking at having staff in libraries etc to support customers therby alaying fears

ManavMehan

Get folk together and given them a problem to solve. Have all the skills in the team and trust them. So is trust an issue? I see trust as inversly proportional to self interest. Is there a lot of self interest involved?

jack markiewicz

So is there somethnig about incentivising people to 'do digital'. In other words, set the tone and the environment for people to innovate, reward them for innovatiing and they will naturally fly !

ManavMehan

People fear consequences of getting stuff wrong. Most of this comes from the way folk are rewarded and objectives that are set. It's often said that behaviour follows measures. How is success measured?

Ian2R

This is also a consequence of how people are led and the ensure of empowerment and trust, both attributes of performing groups.

ManavMehan

I love the idea of having front line staff in the teams developing solutions.

Ian2R

Hierarchical structures are not renowned for there trust and front line innovation!

ManavMehan

Look up Conways law. Agile at it's best removes barriers, and rewards outcomes. Turn your organisation upside down and the bottom of the chart is now responsible for enabling and empowering the level above. ie. the front line staff are the folk who actually provide value.

rachael.hunter@...

The more people that can be involved and engage with any development has to be a good thing, I've spoken with staff at all levels and found that the front line staff often have some of the best ideas as they're hearing first hand what the needs and frustrations faced by our customers are!

john.nassoori

We're now over halfway through the discussion and two key themes are emerging: the need for flexible leadership and digitally inclusive (or multi-channel) services. I'd like to investigate the second topic in a bit more detail: do you feel that enough funding is in place to support online, phone and face-to-face services? Do we have enough front-line staff in place to take on the challenge of collating and responding to customer feedback?

Claudia

Our recent survey showed that cost savings were main driver for success in digital, but that customer satisfaction was secondary - it should not be a choice in a well planned approach. http://www.civilserviceworld.com/articles/sponsored_article/cultural-change-necessity-digital-government

elainegladstone

we need to find ways of capturing the ideas generated by front line staff and customers, evaluating them and giving them feedback (something we often forget to do) ..there is a Bright Ideas tool in DWP capturing suggestions for change from staff maybe we should think about expanding this and looking at how we can capture customers ideas too..

ManavMehan

Individuals and interactions OVER process and tools.. Meeting folk face to face is more powerful in my view.

Ian2R

I know of a tool which is currently being backed by the APM for ensuring 'earned value added' (eVa) - see OpenStrategies.com - New Zealand idea strong of forming groups which understand that citizens create benefits. Most strategies fail due to flawed thinking in this area!

justandy

I agree Elaine - if people don't get feedback then they will likely just stop providing input. In the past, staff at the business end have been the last to know. Involving them from the start by taking the agile approach should motivate them to continue to share their ideas.

ManavMehan

If there was a fire in the building - who are the first folk you'd let back in? Who are the most valuable? Who wouldn't you mind being left out in the cold?

ManavMehan

By working Agile you'll have regular retrospectives where you can make progress and waste visible. It follows that by removing waste there is more time and effort that can be focussed on valiuable work.

rachael.hunter@...

I agree Steve, having flexibility in ways of working and feeling secure about putting forward ideas are both very powerful tools

ManavMehan

I've found that the scrapping of exec meetings and having stakeholders look at agile charts, and attend the scrums results in much better understanding (and execs stop asking for so many reports that take a lot of time, and don't contribute directly to creation of value.)

john.nassoori

With only ten minutes to go before we wrap-up, a final call to those who haven't been able to post or comment. What are the most significant challenges you are facing in trying to instigate cultural change? justandy: any luck in remembering examples of the obstacles faced by college and industry starters?!

justandy

Not specifically for new starters but there are a lot of quick fixes that I or my colleagues could implement if we had additional rights. We have to hand a lot of things over to suppliers that we are capable of resolving ourselves. This might be slightly off topic!

ManavMehan

Trust = (Predictabliity + Relationship + Credibillity) / Self Interest. Trust is key.

ManavMehan

Provide natural points for reflection across the business that influences future the behaviour of the members

ManavMehan

Its not that people don’t like change, its more that they don’t like being changed

elainegladstone

thats partly true but weve been changing for years and people do change. I think the key is to sell the benefits whilst not dismissing the fears / challenges - address all of these and ensure we get the correct training and support..

jack markiewicz

Good book by the Covey Foundation = speed of trust

jack markiewicz

Challenges we have are mainly in the area of engagement and ensuring everyone is involved in any change.

rachael.hunter@...

I think the key has to be comunication, letting people know what is happening and why, along with being honest when things haven't gone as planned show people they are a valued part of any process.

elainegladstone

Agreed

ManavMehan

Culture = "The way things are done round here". We often learn, and align ourselves to the folk we sit next to. Therefore change will come through personal interaction not a directive or mandate in an email.

john.nassoori

Unfortunately, we'll have to call a halt to the webchat, but the debate over digital (if you can define it!) doesn't need to stop here. If you're interested in continuing this afternoon's conversation - which has thrown-up some really interesting thoughts on flexible working, customer feedback, multi-channel provision and improving skills - head to Twitter and use the hashtag #goingdigital14. We'll be in touch soon with details of the next 'Going Digital' event.

elainegladstone

thank you John and all participants

MB7

Thank you everyone - very useful to follow the conversation