“We are experiencing a digital revolution. Revolutions are comprehensive. They affect all parts of the system.”
This was a key insight that I have been reflecting on since I heard it on 12 November 2014. That was when I attended Innovating the Public Sector: from Ideas to Impact, an OECD conference on public sector innovation, and heard Henri Verdier, Chief Data Officer, say those words (translated from French, so I’m paraphrasing).
I already knew this was true – the digital world is all around us and the changes are evident to see. It is already reshaping business models and economic and social processes. Yet I’m not sure I’d realised the full consequences of that truth.
Perhaps it was simply hearing someone from France talk about revolutions, but it prompted me to consider what this digital revolution really meant. How a revolution, over time, affects how we think, how we understand things, and what we do and why.
Had I really thought about what digital would mean for all parts of society? Or if I had, had I really considered what the implications were?
Whatever the reason, this is something I have been thinking about since that conference.
The following are some of my reflections about what digital transformation might mean for the public service and its operating environment. It is intended as a provocation or an exploration, rather than trying to predict or be prescriptive about what might or should happen.
It is also a personal piece. While it does draw on my experience within the public service and working on public sector innovation, on countless conversations with many people, and some fairly eclectic reading, it is a personal reflection.
1. Digital delivery is fast, but digital thinking might not be
The digital world is faster than the industrial world. In the digital world, it is possible to develop, test, implement and scale an idea, product or platform quickly. This very aspect may actually work to slow down the policy process. Continue reading