13 December 2016

I often wonder how different things might have been if I had not gone on holiday after the beta of GOV.UK launched, or if I’d been clearer in my mind about the sort of work I wanted to do at that time, or if I’d better understood the scale of the thing we were collectivly embarking on.

Growing organisations have points in time when the future gets fixed, and that was one of them.

While I’m proud of a bunch of the work I did in subsequent 4 years, I never really ever got to directly set the creative direction at GDS directly again and I never got to blog.

Along with many others, I also mostly worked on things that we didn’t write about at the time. Not because they were secret in any way, just because, for one reason or another, it wasn’t practical or efficacious to do so.

It’s easy to forget that right up until GOV.UK went live, even that project was pretty contentious. We were unable to explain a lot of the design decisions we made. The same goes for most of the transformation projects GDS helped departments with.

As Russell says, history gets written by the bloggers. But there’s lots of good work that didn’t get blogged.

The positive side of this is that I, and many others, got to see a lot of different bits of the puzzle of government, and now is probably a good time to write down thoughts, missed opportunities and new possibilities for another generation.

So, with the ‘Retrospective Prime Directive’ and the civil service code firmly in mind, I’m going to have a go at recording some ideas that never quite made it, but are probably buried away somewhere in the GDS GitHub attic, and some thoughts on what the digital future of some of the government services I worked on could be.

Could be one blog post, could be a dozen.

I hope others do the same (Sarah already has), collectively we probably have some useful insight into how good government could be.

Edit - here’s the ones that I ended up writing:

  1. Knowing when to run
  2. Tools for making and communities
  3. Proffesions and design
  4. Transformation and mental health
  5. Things that have changed