Interesting elsewhere – 15 February 2011

Things which caught my eye elsewhere on the web

  • Sphereless: Hackers, transparency, and the zen of failure But for the hacker, the truth is only what is created -not what is undisputed. Hackers fork code, create new communities, start new websites, run unconferences. If "truth" exists, then it is what emerges, not what is discovered, or what remains.
  • Can the public sector bridge the gap between expectations and delivery? | Flip Chart Fairy Tales Environmental campaigners would like us to get rid of our cars and use bikes and public transport instead. This is unlikely to happen because we have built our society around the car. Many of us work far from our homes, often on industrial estates or business parks that are poorly served by public transport. The railways that might once have served them were torn up years ago. Our cities are designed on the assumption that most people have cars.

    In a similar way, we have also built our lives around the welfare state. Our long-hours, dual income, two-hour commuting, mortgaged-to-the-hilt society is dependent on the existence of good public services. We can only maintain our lifestyles if someone else organises the education of our children, looks after our old people, clears up our rubbish, fixes our roads and keeps our parks tidy. As more of us find ourselves with both children and elderly relatives, our dependence on these services will only increase.

  • Communication Nation: The connected company Historically, we have thought of companies as machines, and we have designed them like we design machines. A machine typically has the following characteristics:

    1. It’s designed to be controlled by a driver or operator.
    2. It needs to be maintained, and when it breaks down, you fix it.
    3. A machine pretty much works in the same way for the life of the machine. Eventually, things change, or the machine wears out, and you need to build or buy a new machine. […]
    So what happens if we rethink the modern company, if we stop thinking of it as a machine and start thinking of it as a complex, growing system? What happens if we think of it less like a machine and more like an organism? Or even better, what if we compared the company with other large, complex human systems, like, for example, the city?

  • government.direct | The National Archives
  • Create the Space to Innovate » Blog Archive » Why hierarchies kill innovation If we change our minds – and really do want more innovation in our businesses and governments, we need to evolve beyond the chicken.  We need to focus on the merit of ideas, not who they came from.  We need to give everyone room to think broadly about the big problems.  We need to nurture the unrealistic, naïve and irritatingly- challenging confidence of those who come into organisations with fresh eyes.  We need to value the wisdom and insight of those with experience by listening to their ideas properly.  Above all, we need to kill the hierarchy before it kills innovation.
  • CASE STUDY: ‘I’m showing two colleagues Twitter. They say they don’t get it…’ « The Dan Slee Blog I was sat with two people who don’t get Twitter.

    Instead of explaining, I asked Twitter a question. It’s sometimes amazing the response you get.

  • Scripting News: They zig when they should zag News is now an environment, not a publication. It lives and breathes. That's what the news orgs still haven't been willing to embrace.
  • On £585 favicons… – Harry Metcalfe There’s a huge difference between making a favicon and making one for a big organisation, with lots of people who need to give input and approval. There’s a huge difference between making an informational website that you think is good, and making one for an entire country, maintained by an entire government. There’s a huge difference between your website and your Government’s website: because in any activity, time and cost increase with the number of people who are involved.
  • Using Social Media to Gain Situational Awareness — It’s Time To Question Assumptions « idisaster 2.0 Citizens in impacted areas don’t just receive information, but increasingly, they send out bits of data about what they are seeing, hearing, and feeling through these platforms. These data, if aggregated, can contribute to overall situational awareness. We are really beginning to understand Brian Humphrey of LAFD’s phrase “every citizen is a sensor”, a take on the phrase every soldier is a sensor.
  • Why are public sector efficiency savings so hard? (Part 3) | Flip Chart Fairy Tales But pretending that cost reduction is easy flies in the face of all the evidence. Improving productivity in any organisation is hard work. In the public sector it is made additionally hard by all the forces ranged against it. If we continue to discuss public sector cost reduction in an ‘as-if world’ we will get nowhere. If we act as if we can solve the problem by outsourcing back office services, as if people who have never downsized an organisation can learn to do it overnight, as if we can just make people work harder, as if getting a few private sector trouble-shooters in will slash costs or as if a huge re-organisation and a change in the way things are bought and paid for will make things cheaper, then public sector reform programmes will stall. No matter how hard you try to ignore it, reality, with all its messy complexity, eventually bites.
  • Why are public sector efficiency savings so hard? (Part 2 – The organisations) | Flip Chart Fairy Tales None of this is to say that public sector organisations can’t be made more efficient; they can. People have done it. It’s just much more difficult than those who have not tried to do it realise. Unless you have tried to get your head around arcane processes, or pored over spreadsheets trying to work out where the hell your costs are going, or explained a new way of working for the umpteenth time to a sea of blank faces, it’s difficult to understand the eye-watering effort involved in making even minor efficiency savings.