Show The Thing is back after its summer hiatus.
Show the Thing is a unique series of online show-and-tells, supported by the Rockefeller Foundation. Bringing together digital experts from government units and departments from around the world, it provides a platform for digital government teams to learn from each other in order to improve the lives of the citizens they serve.
Since the launch of the series in spring of this year, we have hosted digital experts from the United Kingdom, Bangladesh, Taiwan and Ukraine. In each session, we have learned about different citizen-centred digital solutions in areas such as cyber security, education reform and payment platforms.
As with any digital product, we took the time to pause and reflect on the series over the summer, with the intention of coming back stronger in the last quarter of 2023.
Much like the countries we feature, we thought it would be helpful to share some of the lessons we’ve learned from developing this series, sharing insights and advice from our community.
A common vision
Encouraging government teams to communicate openly and transparently about their public service products as well as the challenges and processes they’ve encountered along the way has been an ambitious project.
Which is why it’s no small feat to have engaged with over 150 audience members from 32 different countries in the first half of the year. The geographical reach of Show the Thing spans every continent and demonstrates how common our vision - and the challenges we face along the way - is present across the globe.
Initially designed for delivery practitioners working in the digital arms of national and regional governments, we have found that the content of these sessions is of interest to a much broader range of participants. We have been joined by civil servants with varying job roles, from Analysts and Designers to Policy leads and Project Managers.
We have also been heartened by stories of participants sharing learnings with their own teams, ensuring that the content of the sessions reaches far and wide.
Building engagement and participation
We view participation as a key driver in ensuring Show the Thing is as impactful as possible. Our sessions have given us valuable insight into how to present digital products and solutions in a way that is engaging, participatory and comprehensive.
Here are some of the changes we have made so far:
Showcasing global solutions - branding this as a global series showcasing digital government solutions means being intentional about the geographic spread of the countries we feature. To do this well, we invite speakers to present in languages that they are most comfortable with, and offer multi-channel translation for participants.
Streamlining our events - ensuring that the information being shared is clear and concise, we have limited each session to 60 minutes. In order to facilitate an in-depth discussion and exploration of the topic, we have encouraged teams to use a single presenter speaking on a single project or product.
Reducing the presentation time - restricting the presentation time to 20 minutes. This has improved engagement and allowed more time for questions and further discussion at the end.
Real-time interaction - through the chat functionality, we encourage questions to be asked over the course of the presentation. These are quickly fielded by co-hosts from the presenting team directly to the main presenter, enabling attendees to gain a better understanding of the topic without disrupting the presentation.
Capturing feedback - collating results after each session helps us to shape and iterate our approach at pace.
Feedback from our participants
To better understand the needs of our participants and to help us to develop the series, we held a series of 1-2-1 interviews with participants over the summer.
We learned that it’s important to:
Be inclusive by design. Show The Thing serves as more than just a global gathering for practitioners. By also inviting digital leaders and influencers to be part of discussions and providing a platform on which they can ask questions, we are building a multidisciplinary audience.
Make the content accessible to non-technologists. Many of our participants did not have a technology background, but were nonetheless inspired by the Show the Thing presentations. They emphasised the transformative impact of accessible presentations where a technical focus on the technology was balanced by a discussion of its context and implementation.
Create a safe space for shared learning. Attendance at Show the Thing is limited to government personnel, and the sessions are never recorded. This has not only encouraged openness and radical candour in each session, but also created a sense of trust among participants. The platform-agnostic nature of the content being shared has also been beneficial. Participants are working tirelessly to deliver services to the public and attend to be inspired, or get tips on how they might improve their offering. The last thing they want is to feel like they were ‘being sold to’.
What’s coming up?
Show the Thing would not be possible without the support and engagement of our growing community of digital leaders. The team at Public Digital are incredibly grateful for the time spared over the summer to provide feedback, and their active participation in each session.
We are committed to coming back stronger, delivering a stellar series of engaging, exciting and inspiring sessions over the coming weeks.
Our next event on October 11th will be presented by Herbert Paguas, the Executive Director of Uruguay’s AGESIC. Herbert will be talking about Digital ID and transborder signature. Please sign up here.
On October 25th, we are delighted to be hosting Jose Inostroza, Chief of Chile’s Digital Government Division. The subject is Doc Digital, the official state communication platform. Please sign up here.
On 2nd November, we will hear from Juan Intan, Head of data Analytics, Research & Digital Products, Jakarta Smart City, Indonesia. Juan will present on the city’s 360 Citizen Project. Please sign up here.
We look forward to seeing you there.