2018 was busy.
We visited 25 different cities in 14 different countries, covering 5 continents and one third of the world’s population.
Towards the end of the week, we attended the Red GEALC conference – a gathering of ministers and government officials from all across Latin America and the Caribbean. There, we met presidents, ministers and heads of state from all over Latin America and the Caribbean. We talked to them about digital leadership, service design, and setting up transformative digital institutions.
As Angie wrote here, it was inspiring to experience the camaraderie and collaboration between different countries in the region. Mike focused his speech at the event on building digital teams – and we’re looking forward to helping more governments in this part of the world to build excellent digital teams in 2019.
Teams, teams, teams
We’ve long believed in the importance of building digital teams — so this year we were delighted to work with brilliant teams from all over the world, in public bodies and private companies. Some of them taught us new words, others improved on old favourites.
We co-hosted the 2018 Digital Services Convening with digitalHKS at Harvard, a gathering of 9 digital government teams from around the world. We made lots of videos while we there, to showcase their inspirational work and advice. They include: the importance of believing in the mission in the United States, picking your battles and user needs trumping government needs in Peru, what digital culture looks like in Mexico, and why the strategy is delivery in Argentina.
We also contributed to a Harvard report on the convening: I wrote about sustainability and political succession, Tom reflected on working with political leaders, and Emma wrote about single domains, spending controls and service standards.
We visited eight of IDEO’s offices around the world; Tokyo is the only one we didn’t get to. A highlight was the the Palo Alto studio which is famous for being the place IDEO designed a mouse for Apple’s Lisa computer. Effectively the first mass produced usable mouse, a little piece of computing history.
… and publications
We published two books: Digital Transformation at Scale and Signals. You can buy a copy of the first one online. If you want a copy of Signals, we’re giving them away. If you see one of us around, we might have a spare copy.
We started a regular newsletter to provide a tea-break friendly scan of news about internet-era ways of working we find from from around the world. One reader said it was “always a highlight in the inbox”, and you don’t hear that about many newsletters. It’s already got well over 900 subscribers – perhaps you could be the 1,000th.
Growing our team
In the spring, we moved into a new office — but 4 months later, we had to move upstairs to get more space.
Public Digital has grown from a handful of people, some of them part-time, to a full-time team of 12 — and we’re still growing. We even got almost the whole team in the same city and the same room at the same time, on at least one occasion. We don’t expect that to happen very often.
Looking back and looking forward
However cheesy it might be to say it, we have loved every moment of 2018. We get to work with people who believe the internet can still be a force for good, and who want to build, run and operate things with real responsibility and real impact. Even better, many of those people are new faces to us, bringing new ideas, missions and problems to solve.
We have big plans for 2019, which is shaping up to be even busier. We can’t wait to get started. Our office is closed from Friday 21 December, re-opening on Monday 7 January. See you then.