So long, farewell etc

tl;dr I am moving on from contracting in Government to focus more on coaching

Decorative image of whales in space
So long and thanks for all the fish

In 2014 I began running sessions for Government Digital Service (GDS), then called the Service Manager Induction and Development Programme (It was renamed the Service Owner Programme when the job families were updated and the role renamed) which

Matt Edgarhad set up. I carried on doing that for GDS, DWP and then GDS again alongside other work until 2018.

The Service Owner Programme was the best thing I have been involved with in seven and a half years working with the public sector. I have so many great memories. The people who gave their time to speak to the Service Owners were fantastic, GDS team members, people who had previously done the course, initially talking about their work and eventually tackling wider digital leadership subjects alongside other public sector digital heroes [1]. I’ve met so many brilliant people due to this work.

The rest of my top five (in no particular order) are the Barnsley MDC Discovery, the team at DfE working on Additional Payments for Teachers with dxw & Paper, a run of agile for teams for Public Health England and working with Paul Murray of Foundry 4 on some capability and community building work for Product Managers at HMLR. I’ve spent a ridiculous amount of time on trains, in hotels and pulling a wheelie suitcase around and of late have been working remotely. I’ve loved all of that.

It hasn’t all been as enjoyable though. After quite a bit of thinking I have boiled it down to this. Some pieces of work changed from, “come in, help us do this thing in a good way and help us build new ways of working” to “we can’t do that because _____. Just get it done”. People in organisations brought us in to do something in a particular way which was new and attractive or necessary to the organisation but the system [2] made it impossible to do the work in that way and then openness, trust etc has gone out of the window and people started more tightly controlling things, shutting down ways of communicating, locking down meetings etc. These projects are generally less than successful and the end result is not as valuable for the client. [3]

So I think I’m finally done with working on projects and being dropped in for a few weeks. I love the community and will continue to attend events but I am not going to take any more contracts to do a thing.

I have been building up a coaching practice alongside the work I have done recently and love that as much as the best sessions of the Service Owner Programme. I have a couple of coaching clients and a couple of retainers for ‘one day a month of me in your pocket’ (on your phone).

I will also be writing and speaking more. I would appreciate your thoughts about where I could add value, please fill in this form and let me know what you are interested in hearing more about. I will add you to my email list so I can keep in touch. Obviously you can unsubscribe at any time. You can find me in the usual places on Twitter, on LinkedIN and if you’ve done the service owner programme you probably still have my telephone number.

Quote from feedback "I come away from conversations with you feeling positive and like I can take on the day/challenge we discussed!"

[1] I’m pretty sure Dan Barrett has this trademarked

[2] ‘The system’ could be anything but I have found that the internal workings of a department can make things hard going if they have not been brought along and there is never any fat (time) to do this within the projects.

[3] IMHO the learning needs to be separated from the doing. Blog post to follow.

If you would like to have a conversation about how I might be able to help your team to advance and accelerate change please contact me via email or directly book a 30 minute call. I look forward to hearing from you. Or you could take a look at some testimonials.