Yesterday Matt Jukes put out a “Betagov blues..” post on his Digital by Default blog. Matt reflected on a frustrating gap between what the Betagov team are doing (it’s pretty awesome), and what life is like for public sector digital people outside Whitehall (pretty frustrating a lot of the time).

The post got a few interesting comments from people such as Simon Dickson (Puffbox), and Tom Loosemore (Betagov). Last week I had a chance to see more closely what the Betagov team are doing. I found that inspiring, but I get where Jukesie is coming from, so I stuck my thoughts on the comments too.

I had a few more thoughts that I wanted to put here. I came up with them while watching the toddler drinking the bathwater, so they’re not sophisticated, not finished, they may contradict each other, and I’m not even sure they’re true. But here we go. Call BS on them if I’m wrong. They’re free, and low fat, but I’ve sprinkled cliches liberally.

Digression – just do less
The money ain’t coming back. So the mantra is ‘do more with less’.

You can’t do more with less. Well you can. If you’ve got massive waste built into the system you can do more with less. But you do it by cutting out the waste. So you do less. Do less with less. Achieve more relative to the amount put in. But do less. ‘Do more with less’ is nice political speak, but it’s crappy engineering, crappy physics, crappy maths, not even good management. Just do less. But get more from it.

What can you cut out? What nonsense is sucking down time and resources to no good end?

Yeah, easy for me to ask – in my happy supplier world where I have few masters and lots of autonomy (although money is not raining from the ceiling here either) 🙂 But really, what can you cut out?

Meanwhile – no one big solution
My naive impression is that Betagov team have enough to do in the centre. To get the platform built for the core departments, and get successful adoption of it is a big enough task, and a thoroughly worthwhile goal. Betagov is one big solution, but it’s not the one big solution.

Not sure what I mean by that, but it’s something like ‘big problems may benefit from big solutions, but not everything is shaped like that big problem’. Also, really enormous national megaprojects can SUCK 😛 (so keeping Betagov focussed == win)

But that much might be obvious and not helpful. Meanwhile I’ve been trying to figure out how the relationship will play out between GDS, the rest of government, and the rest of UK public sector. And I guess that’s what’s on Jukesie’s mind too. And I’ve concluded that I have simply no idea, and that it will be interesting to see. Meanwhile I plan for sun, rain, and most things in between.

Still, it feels like right now, there is a chance to make the weather. Except that there’s also a really tiresome and distracting tension about central/devolved procurement, which is a mix of terrifying (because the implications of absolute centralisation are horrible) and stupifyingly boring (because it just is). Ultimately boring trumps terrifying, so I’ll park the procurement horror there. Let’s think about making the weather instead.

“Keep calm and carry on” keep talking
Let’s figure it out. There are good people at Betagov or nearby (in alphabetical order): @MarxCulture, @NeillyNeil, @NickJonesCOI @tomskitomski and others I haven’t met yet, or that my shocking memory has mislaid.

And there are good people not in GDS who want to make connections and make this stuff work better – @davebriggs, @dominiccampbell, @jukesie, @Lesteph, @simond, @stephenhilton @timjhughes and many more (blame my memory if I forgot you, it’s getting late).

Meeting is easy (and out of London sometimes please, it’s lovely in Bristol for example); talking online is even easier. Keep writing, keep talking. Let’s share examples of what’s great, and let’s renew each other’s enthusiasm when times are difficult.

Yeah, not my best ever post, maybe someone else will put it better. But enough, now I must go make pngs and do svn and other nonsense 😀

(I nicked part of the title from Steph, sorry)