We set up Public Digital back in 2015, immediately after leaving our jobs in government. For the first two years, we took things slowly and focused on just a couple of clients, mainly because we were busy with other commitments.
This year, our focus is changing. We will soon all be working on Public Digital full time, so we’re expanding the team and growing the business.
We’re here to help organisations around the world adapt to the internet era. The internet has re-shaped society over the last 30 or 40 years, but the institutions that govern and manage society have struggled to keep up. Those institutions, both public and private, are weighed down by process, inertia, and decades of management theory. The internet was designed to route around things like that.
So those institutions have to change. They have to adapt. They have to re-think what they do, and how they do it.
Defining digital to define the problem
Tom’s definition of digital helps us focus:
“Digital: Applying the culture, processes, business models & technologies of the internet era to respond to people’s raised expectations.”
(It’s so useful, we’ve registered definitionofdigital.com to help everyone – including us – find it again when we need it.)
We understand the culture, processes, business models & technologies of the internet era. We’ve been living them, personally and professionally, for decades.
As we said for years during our time at the UK Government Digital Service: the strategy is delivery. Our work now is sharing the strategy of delivery: helping governments, institutions and large companies adapt.
Uniquely, we focus our efforts on both the leaders and decision-makers at the top, and the practitioners on the ground. We help the people who build things and deliver services to build better things, and deliver better services. We help them overcome barriers and blockers to delivery, and communicate clearly about their work. And we help leaders remove inertia and inefficiency in their organisations, by better understanding and supporting the work the practitioners are doing.
Mike meeting with Australian PM Malcolm Turnbull
Daniella Raffo Porcari, Mike, Peruvian PM Mercedes Araoz and Lieneke Schol
Mike and Ben meeting engineer, computer scientist and Internet Hall of Famer Ida Holz in Uruguay
Mike, Andrew, Alex Benay, Ben, President of the Treasury Board of Canada Scott Brison and Ashley Wright
Ben, Andrew, Daniella Raffo Porcari, Peruvian PM Fernando Zavala and Mike
Peruvian PM Fernando Zavala with the team building gob.pe
Part of the internet community
We were lucky. The internet came along just as we were starting our professional careers; it defined and shaped our work, and us. We were part of the small community that shaped the early years of both the internet and the web.
That community was built on shared values of collaboration, consensus and curiosity. Values that still hold strong today, no matter how much the web itself has changed. We believe in those values, and we think there’s still much to be said for sticking to them.
The internet only works the way it does because there’s (still) a small group of people who do a lot of work behind the scenes to make sure the connections that define it are as open and transparent as possible. It’s a community, as much as it is a technology.
We believe that understanding user needs, and enabling multidisciplinary teams to properly research and then build things to meet those needs, is the best response to the changes brought by the internet era.
We’re here to help organisations understand and adopt those changes. We’re here to implement the strategy of delivery, as shaped by the changing circumstances and raised expectations of the internet era.
We’re here to help those who’ve fallen behind catch up with those who are already striding ahead.
We have strong opinions, loosely held. We come to the work knowing that we still have much to learn, and that flexibility is a strength. We’ve already learnt a lot in the 2 years since we set up Public Digital. Those practitioners we’re so keen on helping? They’re an inspiring bunch, and they’ve already taught us a lot.
What we’ve done so far
Among other things, we have helped:
- set up the Canadian Digital Service
- set up the Ontario Digital Service (ODS) and hire Ontario’s first Chief Digital Officer
- the Peruvian government build a new single domain at gob.pe, and set up their first fully digital public service (for issuing provisional driving licences)
- Intercorp set up 25 beacon projects to deliver its stated strategy: make Peru the best place to raise a family in Latin America
- develop La Victoria Lab, a new digital institution in Peru
- Uruguay develop an alpha at gub.uy
- write advisory reports on best practice in e-Government for the Inter-American Development Bank (IADB)
- other multilateral organisations, including the the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the World Bank, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) and the European Union
- the Australian Government adopt digital best practice
We’ll be saying more about those projects, and others besides, in the months ahead.
Follow us on Twitter: @publicdigitalhq