Just before Christmas last year, after 10 months of being Interim CDIO for the MoJ, I was offered the post on a permanent basis. While I certainly wasn’t acting as “caretaker” in the role, it has definitely given me certainty and the mandate to really drive forward the agenda that my team and I were already starting to set out.
First in that agenda is setting out what our strategy is for the next 3 years. I have been a Civil Servant for over 4 years, and this is the first time that I’m getting to experience a 3 year spending round (read planning round) which means we get to properly look at where we want to be by 2025. We don’t have the luxury of starting from a blank page. We have over 800 services, a lot of in-flight work and 40 different strategies across the MoJ, its agencies and government more broadly that set expectations upon us.
So we’re taking the opportunity to look at what the sum total of all of that work and those strategies means for the organisation – what will have changed by 2025?
There are two (unsurprising) emerging themes and a third that I think we need to embrace if we are going to affect real change.
The first of those themes is data. We have a lot of it. It’s sat in our many, many systems; it’s sat in warehouses, offices and courts in physical form across the country; it’s sat in colleague’s mailboxes. And, like many other organisations, we are not able to harness the power of that data to drive decisions and the way we do things. So, the first thing that needs to be different in 2025 is that we understand what data is most important to us, have one source of the truth for that data and have the capabilities in place to be able to leverage that data.
The second is about our organisational flexibility, or how nimble we are. We need to enable the organisation to be more responsive to changes in policy – it takes far too long today. This means improving or getting off some of our legacy systems, but it also means automating where it’s appropriate to do so. Therefore, the second thing that needs to be different in 2025 is that we have less reliance on legacy systems, less reliance on paper based processes and are therefore more nimble and efficient as an organisation.
And lastly, and for me the most important theme is around orienting ourselves around our users. This isn’t about making sure we do user research or that we’ve got design capabilities. But about fundamentally changing the way in which we operate as an organisation. The way we’re working today is creating complexity in our technology landscape, and if we can’t change that then we will always be in a technical debt cycle. We need to break the cycle of creating complex policy then complex processes to deliver that policy and then complex systems to support those processes. So the third thing that needs to be different in 2025 is the way that we work – we need to be working in a truly multidisciplinary way with policy and operational colleagues from the inception of a policy idea. It’s not new, we’re not the only people who have this issue, but I haven’t seen very many (that’s not to say there aren’t any) great examples of large, complex organisations where this has truly successfully been achieved.
So there we have it. The emerging themes for our 2025 strategy. In the coming weeks I will talk about what that means in terms of delivery priorities to bring this to life, and some of the challenges that we face in delivery.
But in the meantime, I’d love to hear your thoughts.
Comment by Jacob posted on
Thanks Gina, it's great to hear we can focus on a longer term strategy with the three year spending round. It feels like there is a synchronicity between themes two and three, in that the need to be flexible and nimble will be exacerbated by having to respond to policy ideas that have been conceived and approved without the input of digital or operational colleagues to consider how viable it is. Can I ask what we will do to break this cycle, and what the wider buy is from leaders in policy to work in a different way?
Comment by Mark Stanley posted on
Really good this but people saying they'd be keen to hear what next level down is ie more detail on what we're going to do about these areas- delivery roadmap?
Comment by Mark Stanley posted on
"So there we have it. The emerging themes for our 2025 strategy. In the coming weeks I will talk about what that means in terms of delivery priorities to bring this to life, and some of the challenges that we face in delivery." So that's the thing it would be great to see and whatever help we can offer please let us know
Comment by Tony Burrows posted on
It's great to see the aspiration but how will this be achieved with internal IT and commercial siloes impacting the ability to get a consolidated view of the data or provide a centralised funding model to bring in and align all the resources to create a single version of the truth?
Comment by philip Pearson posted on
'Orientating ourselves around our users' is certainly a theme I see across many large government organisations and you're right - it's a tough challenge especially when users are distributed across multiple environments, have changing expectations borne out of working from home and expect more and more from IT. I recently spent time with one of the UK's largest public sector bodies - delivering integrated transport solutions across London - and their IT teams are working very hard on addressing the same challenges as you - reaching out to their operational colleagues, simplifying processes and working more as an integrated team.
Comment by Paul posted on
Would be great to see technology rather than primarily Digital at the forefront of the strategy. Understanding where we want to be in terms of telephony, videoconferencing and supporting hybrid working would be very welcome
Historically a lot of the strategic thinking has been about things of little interest to end users - in source, outsource, multi or single vendors etc.
Some common technology standards like in the the ‘good old days’ of GDS would be a great way forward