Keep going

At the start of the summer, we co-hosted an event at Harvard University with our friends from digitalHKS.

A couple of dozen people spent 2 days telling the truth about their efforts to make digital change happen in governments all over the world. People were encouraged to be candid; it was a chance for everyone to really find out what their peers are up to. The successes they’ve enjoyed, and the disasters they’ve coped with.

In between the presentations and discussions, we put various people in front of a video camera and asked them a simple question: “Doing digital transformation in government is hard work – so what’s your advice for the people doing it?”

This film sums up their answers. We’ve made it not just to mark those 2 days in Cambridge earlier this year, but as a bit of inspiration for everyone who works in a public sector digital team and finds that sometimes, it’s hard work. This is a supportive message from some of the finest, most inspiring leaders in the field: keep going.

Video transcript

Hillary Hartley: It’s a really incredible time to be a public servant, where we really are innovating and driving change, and still having impact, which is why people join public service.

Natasha Clarke: This isn’t about technology, and this isn’t about putting stuff on the web. This is about fundamentally changing the way we operate, so that we can make better government.

Yolanda Martinez Mancilla: Change is complex. And change is challenging. When many people tell you “No” you say “Yes!”. It’s just a completely different conversation. About how government should work, and how government can actually have a very open and collaborative culture.

Jen Pahlka: It is so hard. Because it’s so important. You have to have a support network, to remind you why you’re doing it and to pace yourself.

David Eaves: It does help me sometimes to reflect and go back to that place and be like “Yeah, this mission matters but it’s part of a much bigger mission around democratic institutions and effectiveness, and holding society together.” And I find that actually quite invigorating.

Arlene Williams: The work is extremely challenging but it’s been the most rewarding. I can’t think of a job that I would want to do more, to be quite honest.

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