Archive for December, 2008

Leaving government to spend more time with my family

I’ve always liked that phrase. Brings to mind all those lovely post-scandal impromptu doorstep press conferences with Tory ministers in the early 90’s. Anyway, I digress….

I’m sure this won’t be a huge surprise to many but my time as a civil servant will shortly come to an end. I’ve been working in Whitehall for coming on seven years and feel that it is time for a change. I’m sad to be leaving but at the same time I’m glad to be going.

Sad because I really enjoy doing what I do and trying to help push forward the government online agenda. I think there is still masses to do and I like being part of that. Sad also because I have felt for a while that web stuff is still not being taken seriously enough. I’ve been scouting around for a new challenge in Whitehall for a long time now but the truth is that beyond building and managing corporate websites, those roles don’t exist. There’s been a lot of talk over the last four years of how more senior strategic web roles are inevitable, but in that time its been just talk. So there was no next move for me.

But glad because I’ve been apart from my family for a while (we’re moving to Ireland and they went over a while back for the start of the school year) and am looking forward to being with them again. But also glad because being independent will allow me to focus my energies on projects that I’m interested in, and bypass the daily grind of bureaucracy that tends to get in the way of the cool stuff.

Over the last year or so that has become more and more of a barrier to doing what I enjoy the most. The changing role of my employer inevitably brought higher pressures and expectations (and rightly so given its increased responsibilities) but with little additional resource to do it. I’ve also found my extra-curricular activities being scrutinised and discouraged in a way I hadn’t expected after it being benignly ignored for the first year or so (tip for any civil servant bloggers: you may get permission or have a tacit understanding from your manager that its okay to blog, but if the management structure above you changes, you probably ought to start all over again. Previous agreements don’t seem to carry much weight). Hence the even lighter that normal posting here over the last few months.

So, what next?

First I’m going to take a good chunk of time off to get to know the area we will be living in better, and to of course spend some quality time with my family. I could do with a break and frankly I don’t think its a bad thing that I get away from the scene of my crimes for a while.

Then I will be open to offers. I’m interested in

  • helping organisations to define their digital strategies and implementation options
  • using social media tools to observe, interact and initiate and make better policy / services
  • getting the best out of the web to assist government media communications (I’ll be writing more about this shortly)
  • identifying the value of integrating new cutting edge web2.0 tools in the workplace

I would describe myself as a digital pragmatist: good at defining online strategy but with a mind on what is practical and realistic (particularly in the current climate). I’m looking forward to putting my skills and perspectives into good use – possibly in the way that Nick Booth has recently described.

If you are interested in talking to me about opportunities, my contact details are on my LinkedIn profile. Not quite sure when exactly I’ll be off, but hoping that it won’t be beyond this.

Here’s to a happy 2009.

Us Now – go see

I was lucky enough to snag a ticket to go and see Us Now at the RSA on Wednesday night.

Us Now, by Ivo Gormley, is a film about the power of online collaboration and communities – and what that might mean for future government. Its very powerful, highlighting some excellent case studies and interviewing a range of experts (its worth seeing for Ed Miliband’s appearance alone I think).

Others have already written better reviews than I could so all I will say is – its fantastic, go and see it.

There’s another preview viewing next Wednesday evening in London and there are still (free) tickets available. If you’re around, I highly recommend going along. This is one hour of your life you won’t regret giving up.

Ticket details here.