Networks, patterns, and accidentally getting stuck in the future. Add to that just enough snow to make things pretty and I’d say February is shaping up well so far.

Connection conversations

Back into a busy week of conversations after resting last week.

This week alongside the normal working day chats I’ve caught up with 2 former colleagues (1 who still works in local government), and spoke to someone I’ve not met before from another council.

In these conversations we covered many things including:

  • the worsening situation in local government, what it’s like under a 114, and how to try and protect yourself and the work you / your team do in the current environment
  • how there are senior decision makers who still don’t understand (or do, but don’t care) about how good design is an enabler to wider service change and efficiencies. Ditching this function is a short term saving but something you’re more than likely going to have to rebuild to make future (bigger) savings elsewhere
  • the challenge of measuring the success of information and advice content (more on this in 3 things)
  • radical disruption and the need for innovation
  • intellectual playfulness
  • octopus (the creature. They’re great)

3 things this week

The power of a network

LocalGov Digital came through for me when I reached out about looking for great examples of council tax online services and content. I’ve been pointed toward some examples and looking forward to meeting (virtually) with new connections and councils who’ve already done a ton of hard work to make this service simple.

This means the work we’re doing can build on this, rather than repeat it in a slightly different colourway. It means the sector can, without needing any complex permission framework, come together to make things better for all even while working for individual organisations.

It’s exciting and I’m so appreciative of this network and community. I was extra glad of it while looking on somewhat enviously at the Local Digital meet in London this week. It looked like a selection of great talks and a coming together of people I really respect so personally a little sad that the location excluded me from considering being there (and made myself a little more sad realising London is likely to be out of reach to me for the forseeable future so will continue to miss events like this).

Consoling myself by remembering there is LocalGovCamp Lite to look forward to in March!

Measuring what didn’t happen

Measuring a transaction, or take-up of a digital service, is relatively easy. Something has happened so you can count it. But measuring information and advice content which is specifically meant to help people help themselves means success might mean you never know about them.

Framing an avoidable contact element is one way to start quantifying success. You can start to measure traffic to the page, and discern some things about those visitors with a little effort too. Compare this to changes in other channels and you can start to make assumptions about whether people have moved to self-serve. You can even attach a cost saving for the organisation to that.

Campaigns too are measurable and can help to understand if telling people you have helpful information is actually reaching them, and then if they are acting on it. Match this up to the avoidable contact element and you’re starting to quantify success along a customer journey.

But you’re also likely to have to look longer term to see the impact on real outcomes. To see how the content is contributing to an overall reduction in people in crisis/need, service demand etc. Usability tests are vital to build confidence the content is likely to support that change – that it’s understandable and resonating in the right way with the users.

Seeing the real impact could take years and not be fully attributable to content – there’s a lot of ‘noise’ that happens over a longer period which may also contribute or be the thing that makes prevention possible.

For digital teams this challenge to measuring success for content which doesn’t have a trackable action in it is an ongoing one, and I’d like to hear it talked about more as a collective.

Prioritising the work

I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about organising and prioritising work, and revisiting models and frameworks which might help with that. One of those is the Kano Model, which considers product features against Basics, Satisfiers, and Delighters.

You need to know what your user’s really value and need to sort candidate features against this model but when you do it can be a useful way to see how to prioritise what you focus on.

It’s made me think about whether, despite a focus on user needs, we really know what user’s value in our local government digital space. What are the basics that our digital services need to offer to meet user expectations? What would be considered ‘delightful’ in our context?

This might be a different angle to shape up a definition of MUP (minimum usable product) or MDP (minimum desirable product) for a particular piece of work so I’m interested in whether others in local government are using the Kano Model or something else to prioritise and define what they’re focusing on as well as understand how well it matches up to what user’s value (which is slightly different to what user’s need).

Shall we connect?

I’m looking for conversations and opening my calendar for opportunities to connect across 2024.

My February is fairly packed with personal commitments alongside work so I’ve not got slots in Calendly open at the moment. Do drop me a message if you’d like to chat though and we can find something that works I’m sure!

If you’re a vendor please check out the latest news on my employer before grabbing a slot – these conversations are not an opportunity to try and sell to me. And if you do work at the same organisation as I do reach out on Teams so we can say hello!

You can also get in touch through the ways on my get in touch page so let’s see what we can arrange.