https://mojdigital.blog.gov.uk/2014/11/11/digital-anthropology/

Digital anthropology

First steps into the world of MOJ Digital

Silhouette

So I’m the new boy. Or in more professional parlance, I’m the freshly appointed Digital Content Designer working on the Employment Tribunal Service.

I come from the British Council, a cultural relations organisation just across the park. During my time there I learned that travelling overseas teaches you as much about your own country as the one you are visiting. So in these early days of my integration to MOJ Digital, it seems a good idea to adopt the guise of a digital anthropologist and compare the culture here to other places I’ve worked.

Explanation vs engagement

In previous roles I commissioned content primarily to engage and then gently coerce the audience into making a purchase. The result: images, infographics and video used like baubles on a Christmas tree and copy riddled with sales messages.

Users of the Employment Tribunal Service need explanation rather than persuasion. The GDS Style Guide stipulates content which is clear, succinct and logically laid out - that feels entirely right for a service which is supporting people in potentially one of the most stressful times of their lives.

Digital democracy

loudspeakers

When it comes to websites, editors or producers usually hold the reins of power. They construct logical arguments for commissioning all kinds of illogical content, often using external teams who don’t question the rationale.

At the MOJ, designers, developers and user testing peeps all contribute with equal weight to the process. Crucially for a democracy, the user is also given a voice, resulting in a product which is focussed on their needs.

Limber up

I break into a sweat attempting to touch my knees, so I was relieved that agile working does not require any kind of athletic ability. Now I understand the agile methodology better, I recognise how good it is at keeping the wheels of a project rolling.

Communication between teams is more frequent, barriers are removed quickly and progress (although at times stuttering), has good forward momentum. The Employment Tribunal team literally bend themselves into improbable positions at team yoga once a week – that’s real agile working! Tuesday nights if anyone’s interested.

Freedom

wallwithladder

Mel Gibson fought for this on horseback dressed as a Scot, so we should celebrate it whenever we can.  At the MOJ there’s freedom to do our jobs in the way we see fit, without the constraints that I have seen in other parts of the public sector.

On my first day here, I was presented with my laptop and told: ‘you can load anything on to it, just don’t break it’.  This trust is not only refreshing; it also lays down the breeding ground for innovation.

I’m putting the finishing touches to this blog fresh from my first All Hands meeting. It was interesting to hear what the future holds and great that we got a chance to help shape it in the planning session at the end. Jane Stead’s All Hands blog says it all.

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