Interesting elsewhere – 6 May 2011

Things which caught my eye elsewhere on the web

  • If you started today, you would never build what we’ve got. You would build Alphagov.
  • A few design rules for alpha.gov.uk | Alpha.gov.uk – team blog Back in February when we were kicking off the alpha project, we spent the first couple of weeks scouring search logs and analytics for the various central government websites; thinking about who our users were and generally discussing the kind of thing we were setting out to make.

    ‘User centred’ was always going to be one of the fundamentals of the project, but it’s a mutable concept so we wanted to set out more clearly what we were all about – to set out some rules to guide our thinking and to keep us honest.

  • Executive Order–Streamlining Service Delivery and Improving Customer Service | The White House The public's expectations of the Government have continued to rise. The Government must keep pace with and even exceed those expectations. Government must also address the need to improve its services, not only to individuals, but also to private and Governmental entities to which the agency directly provides significant services. Government managers must learn from what is working in the private sector and apply these best practices to deliver services better, faster, and at lower cost. Such best practices include increasingly popular lower-cost, self-service options accessed by the Internet or mobile phone and improved processes that deliver services faster and more responsively, reducing the overall need for customer inquiries and complaints. The Federal Government has a responsibility to streamline and make more efficient its service delivery to better serve the public.
  • Agile for communications « Sharon O’Dea In many, probably most, organisations, taking an agile approach to projects and campaigns outside of IT is going to mean a big cultural shift. The waterfall mindset is deeply ingrained in almost every project; changing that mindset so that stakeholders accept plans will constantly change isn’t going to be easy. It requires trust on the part of stakeholders and bean-counters, and getting that is going to require a hard selling job emphasising the rewards that come from reducing large-scale failure, and in some cases a big leap of faith.
  • Against studying the Internet — Crooked Timber I’d like to see people who study the ‘Internet’ and ‘social media’ stop studying them, and instead start focusing on the role of causal mechanisms that might (or might not) be associated with specific technologies in explaining political outcomes, i.e. to start replacing technology names with mechanisms. This would, of course, require Real Research. But it seems to me more promising than the likely alternatives.
  • Local Government by contract? « We Love Local Government ‘Government by contract’ assumes that the facts never change and that when they do it is possible to re-negotiate.

    But politics is designed to produce disagreements and for those that govern to change their mind and respond to the feelings of the people they represent. A ten year contract, or budget cycle even, might be more efficient but it forgets that the facts might change, that the politicians might change and that stuff happens.

  • Are your users S.T.U.P.I.D? – Boxes and Arrows: The design behind the design Effective intelligence obviously varies across situations. People are ingenious at figuring out things they really want, but the simplest task is insurmountable to the unmotivated. Both scenarios are solvable, but an application that makes the wrong assumptions about its users will fail.
  • Fear of piloting | Blog Above all, we need to change a culture which sees changing course in the light of evidence as a sign of weakness.
  • FT.com / FT Magazine – Why we’re all far too sure of ourselves The fact is that our political system simply does not take evidence seriously. If I had to suggest one single reason for that, it’s our love of certitude. Evidence is the way to reduce honest doubts. Stuffed on a fattening diet of certitude, who has room for doubt? And if we have no doubts, who needs evidence?
  • 3 Tips On Scaling Agile Development At some point, adopting Agile development becomes an organizational change management exercise that has little do with Agile itself.
  • Searching out jobseekers’ behaviour | Analysis | Recruiter Information sites, such as DirectGov and Wikipedia, achieved notable visibility due to relevant job-related content and credibility through links. By contrast, Hays lost 4% visibility, which saw it fall from position 11 to 27 in Greenlight’s league table.
  • The public debt – why it’s different this time | Flip Chart Fairy Tales But over the longer term, if public finances are to be restored, the cost of delivering public services will need to come down. That will be the challenge of the next decade.
  • Architecture Revisited « The Limber Lambda Due diligence, even if through up-front requirements specification and review was justified, however you look at it. The only way that interpretation of requirements could have been tackled efficiently in an agile setting in this case would have been if the product owner was uber-qualified—someone who knew the business backwards and who had a sufficient personal stake to take delivery personally. No such person existed.