Category Archives: From Delib

Stuff we’re doing that’s worth sharing. Projects, apps, events, case studies, thinking.

Introducing our new communications person: Keri O’Donoghue

Delib keeps on growing – both in number of customers and number of staff. The newest member of the team is Keri, joining our UK office in a communications role. As is now standard procedure, she’s completed our comprehensive set of taxing questions about bands, bread and, of course, biscuits.

1. What’s your name and where are you from?      

My name is Keri O’Donoghue and I have the dubious pleasure of being from Swindon (yes, the location of Wernham Hogg’s second office). I lived in Brighton for uni before moving to Bristol about three years ago and have loved it here ever since!

2. Favourite band and/or artist?

Always a tricky question – at the moment I’m really enjoying Jessie Ware and have tickets to see her in Bristol next March! I also absolutely love Bon Iver and would like it if Justin Vernon could sing me to sleep every night. Heartbreaker by Ryan Adams is one of my favourite albums. As for the classics, my dad has instilled a great love for The Jam in me and we went to see Paul Weller together a few years ago; Down in the Tube Station at Midnight is one of my all time favourite songs. My mum, on a slightly different note, has given me a deep appreciation for Whitney Houston; I cried the day she died and many-a-night at my parents’ house ends with my mum, my sister and I belting out Saving All My Love in the kitchen with utensils for microphones (and wine).

3. Creature of habit or maverick thinker?

In my working life I’m definitely a creature of habit; I love a list, I love routine and I love to be organised (and to organise others). In my personal life I’d say I’m a bit more of a maverick thinker; I like to be spontaneous and hate to commit to anything too far in advance.

4. You get mysteriously transported to a desert island, with only time to grab a couple of precious things to take with you. What makes the ‘keep’ list?

My dad is a brilliant combination of Bruce Willis in Die Hard and Liam Neeson in Taken, with a bit of Ray Mears thrown in, so if people are allowed on the keep list, then him. If not, then definitely some way of playing music, because I’m rarely not listening to anything. Also, my trademark favourite red lipstick, because if I’m going to be starting a new life on this desert island, I might as well look good while I’m at it.

5. Biscuits – dunk or leave unsullied?

Dunk! Or, if we’re talking about my favourite biscuit, a caramel waffle, then put on top of the coffee cup so the heat melts the caramel a bit and makes it all lovely and soft!

6. Before joining Delib, how did you put bread on the table?

I used to worked for an academic publisher in the sales and marketing team, where I sometimes got to travel to the US and Europe for various events and conferences. My most recent role was at a not for profit which helps the UK education sector gain access to innovative technologies to help with research and teaching. When I was a student I worked at Starbucks, where I developed my love of caramel waffles.

7. Why did you want to join Delib?

I studied International Development at uni, and when met with blank faces on telling people that, always described it as a mixture of Politics and Geography, so have always had a keen interest in politics and the wider world. To work for a company that aligns well with that and is doing such positive stuff for democracy is a really exciting opportunity for me. Starting in a new role, I have a lot to learn and take on and I can’t wait to sink my teeth into it!

8. Any shout outs, comments or other musings?

It’s only been a couple of weeks but I’m already really happy at Delib, so a big shout out to all of the team for making me feel so welcome!

Institutionalising Participatory and Deliberative Democracy event

Last weekend I took a trip to London to attend ‘Institutionalising Participatory and Deliberative Democracy’. The event was held by the Westminster Centre for the Study of Democracy, at the University of Westminster for academics, experts and the curious alike. It was a workshop-style event, with four key speakers and an opportunity for the audience to ask questions.

The session itself was exploring world-wide increased experimentation of new forms of public engagement that are participatory and/or deliberative in character. We looked at examples of participatory budgeting in Scotland and Latin America, Citizens’ Assemblies in Ireland and deliberative mini-publics across the globe. The range of speakers was brilliant:  we started the session off with Graham Smith (Professor of Politics and Director of the Centre of the Study of Democracy) defining and introducing us to key topics of the afternoon. Looking specifically into Citizens’ Assemblies in Ireland was Clodagh Harris (Senior Lecturer in the Department of Government, Uni of Cork) followed by insight into Scotland’s participatory budgeting story with Oliver Escobar (Lecturer in Public Policy, Uni of Edinburgh).

We were initially introduced to the deliberative democratic form of mini-publics by Graham Smith. Mini-publics in represented democracy are groups of randomly selected citizens that are assumed to help define reasonable solutions to complex and diverse issues; this should discern a more reflective public opinion. An example would be The Citizen’s Initiative Review Commission, which was established by the Oregon Legislature in 2011. Randomly selected demographically-balanced voters were brought together from across the state to fairly evaluate ballot measures.

This led on to Clodagh Harris educating us on the trials and successes of Citizens’ Assemblies in Ireland. The pilot Irish Assembly, established in 2011, gave citizens a direct and formal role on matters of constitutional reform. As well as 33 politicians, this group included 66 randomly selected citizens. The inclusion of political representatives added to the process’ legitimacy, and meant for more parliamentary responsiveness. That political influence (from both houses of the Oireachtas and the Northern Ireland Assembly) was no doubt helpful towards the Government accepting recommendations for Constitutional Change; Harris focused on marriage equality, reducing the voting age and reducing the age you can become President.

Clodagh Harris from Irish Citizens’ Assembly

The above led to two referendums in May 2015. The Presidential age referendum focused on lowering the age you can become president from 35 to 21; unsurprisingly, people felt that 21 was too young, with 73% of people voting that way. The Republic of Ireland is a primarily Christian country, with the largest church being Roman Catholic, meaning the referendum on marriage equality was monumental for the country. On the 22nd of May, the proposal resulted in nearly 2 million votes, with 62% of people voting ‘yes’ to marriage equality. This was a massive breakthrough for Ireland, and therefore a prime example of historical outcomes of Citizens’ Assemblies, and was the first time referendums passed successfully with mini-public.  Evidently the pilot Citizens’ Assembly in Ireland went well, with the body still working today. Since October 2016, in the wave of the second generation, the Assembly have met regularly to deliberate outlined topics. The Assembly complete their work within a year and are currently considering how Ireland can tackle climate change, as well as the immense issue of abortion rights in Ireland. As it stands, abortion is illegal in Ireland, and therefore leads to hundreds of women travelling to England to carry out the procedure. The Citizens’ Assembly are trying to replace the current law, with a provision that makes termination of pregnancy up to the mother, not parliament.

Escobar’s talk explored participatory budgeting (PB), focussing on how Scotland have committed to making it normal practice in local and central government after COSLA and the Scottish Government made a landmark agreement to mainstream PB. Scotland is now famous for their extensive participatory budgeting after the Scottish Government first launched their Community Choices Fund in 2016. The fund supports PB in Scotland, by allocating a certain amount of the government budget to citizens. Escobar believes consultation should be done sparingly with a higher quality approach, focusing primarily on the bigger issues. Many local authorities in Scotland are using or have used Delib’s Dialogue tool, for the formative stages of their participatory budgeting challenges. The Scottish Government commissioned the Democratic Society to do a research project into participatory budgeting tools that are available that you can read here.

Currently the Citizens’ Assembly England have a live project ‘Citizens’ Assembly on Brexit’, details of which can be found through their site. The amazing work of Citizens’ assemblies in Ireland and Participatory Budgeting in Scotland is an inspiration of what can be achieved by collective voices, as powers are being shifted away from Westminster towards devolved bodies and representatives at a local level.

‘Better decisions together?’ – event round-up

A few weeks back, (October 27th) we held the second in our series of Practical Democracy Project events – this time, with a focus on the possible risks, benefits and methods of involving people in decision-making.

For those who couldn’t make it along on the day, here’s a quick round-up. And we’re planning more events in the series so there’ll doubtless be other opportunities to talk digital democracy with roomfuls of interesting people.

People chat in the break at our Edinburgh Practical Democracy Project event

These events are designed to keep building the conversation around the interaction between technology and government, with a focus on the stuff that actually makes a difference to effective public participation in decision-making.

This particular gathering was in collaboration with The Democratic Society and New Media Scotland, and took place at the City Art Centre’s Alt-w LAB in Edinburgh (an amazing venue with all the coolness and great aesthetics you’d expect of a gallery, and some spectacular views to boot). As with the first event in London, there was a great mix of people present: academics, members of the pubic, civil servants, researchers, service designers – all sorts.

I was slightly thrown when the room was plunged into darkness just as we were due to start – though it turned out to simply be a deliberate, and rather snazzy, spotlight setup. Fortunately, I soon got to pass the literal limelight to our lineup of invited speakers, all of whom had excellent chat…


First up was Anna Grant from Carnegie UK Trust

Anna was sharing some insights informed by a recently-published report she’d been working on called ‘A Digital World for All?’.

Anna was keen to dispel some of the myths and assumptions that people can slip into when thinking about online engagement and inclusion – especially regarding young people. She repeatedly stressed that encouraging participation was not as simple as merely opening a feedback channel and then just waiting for people to magically turn up.

The report also made clear that it should not be taken for granted that all young people are automatically ‘digital natives’, completely comfortable and able to take part in any- and every-thing online. As more and more services move online, there remains a responsibility to equip everyone with the digital skills to ensure equal access. And when it comes to participation, it’s also important to give people sufficient motivation/reason to get involved.

Check out the full ‘Digital World for All?’ report


Then we heard from Wittin’s Dr Matthew Davis.

Wittin is a very new, and therefore still tiny, startup – formed specifically in response to a ‘CivTech’ challenge run by the Scottish Government. The founder, Dr Matthew Davis, told us about how he came up with a proposal to Stirling Council around opening up their data for citizens to analyse and interact with directly.

It was fascinating to hear about how the Council and Wittin are working to develop this scheme, and all the considerations that come into play when trying to get such a bold new idea off the ground: the work of getting buy-in; the need to balance anonymity, privacy, availability and insight; possible strategies for recruiting ‘early adopter’ citizens to see how people might start using Council data when given access to it…

Alongside that, it was great to hear about the appetite among public sector organisations for new and additional ways of hearing from their citizens and getting insight to help them provide better services. It’s a recurring theme in our experience: people in government aren’t averse to hearing from the public – quite the opposite, in fact. There’s no lack of willing: the main barriers are purely practical – so the more we can do to provide civil servants with affordable, viable, user-friendly ways of opening up engagement, the better.


Next up was Dr Ella Taylor-Smith from Edinburgh Napier University.

Ella has been involved in the digital democracy scene from arguably its earliest days, and is hugely well-versed in online participation/engagement. On this occasion, she shared some findings from an intriguing piece of research she’s recently been working on – about ‘knit-bombing’. Yes, you read that right: the central focus of this research was impromptu knitting.

Dr Taylor-Smith had studied the phenomenon of crocheted protest signs around Edinburgh, which had caught people’s attention both ‘IRL’ and on social media. Interested by questions of where such ‘ground-up’ movements come from, what causes them to catch on, what ‘counts’ as a participatory intervention and if/when they can be considered ‘successful’, Ella had interviewed a host of people involved in the production of these protest signs – generating a wealth of interesting findings.

Among these, I was particularly struck by her honesty about the sheer effort that democratic involvement can entail. As she observed, ‘participating in democracy is time consuming & emotionally draining – but community is a motivating value’


And wrapping up the morning was Tim Brazier from Good Things Foundation.

Tim is a senior Service Designer at Good Things Foundation, a charity committed to ‘building a digitally included society and supporting people to grow their essential skills’. Looking at the question of how to practically go about effectively involving people in decision-making, he made a fantastic case for the importance of the quality of interactions, and the ‘human’ side of conversations with citizens/service users.

He regaled us with several stories of projects where Good Things Foundation had conducted up-close-and-personal field research, striving to meet people ‘on their own terms’ (rather than in the potentially ‘artificial’ environment of a focus group session or similar).

And he also advocated strongly for the importance of listening well – not simply going in with a set of leading questions and set answers, but allowing space for suggestions or questions or ideas to arise naturally in the process of engaging with someone, to be able to respond to these emergent topics and themes that you as an organisation might never have predicted.


Tim also made some notes from the day. As you’d expect from someone with such a keen eye for design, they’re rather lovely – worth a look if only for that enviable penmanship:

We’re looking forward to hosting more Practical Democracy Project events in the new year – watch this space for one near you!

8 lessons learnt from Web Summit 2017

Last week, I was fortunate enough to attend Web Summit (one of the largest tech conferences in the world with 60,000 attendees) held in Portugal’s lovely capital Lisbon for the second year running. I was able to attend thanks to purchasing one of the heavily subsidised ‘women in tech’ ticket a few months back: which makes it much more affordable for women to get involved.

Web Summit is by far the largest and most international conference I’ve ever been to. To be honest, the first day was actually a little overwhelming, as there are four large arenas of stands and talks; but I soon got into it. As with most conferences, despite the long list of amazing talks I was fortunate enough to attend, it’s often the conversations with fellow peers and new acquaintances over lunch, or after the conference, which leave you feeling most inspired. We had a buzzword bingo board running for the event, and the term ‘disrupt’ was well and truly awarded the most overused word during the summit!

Standout talks for me were from representatives of Lego, Reddit and Stack Overflow. Key themes of the conference included consumers taking back control over their privacy, the opportunities presented by AI and new technologies such as Blockchain and the importance of digital literacy and de-mystifying the world of tech. The conference left me feeling inspired and excited to be working as a ‘woman in tech’.  Here’s a few of my take home points from the talks I chose to attend:

1) We need to be mindful of ‘echo chambers’

Steve Huffman (CEO of Reddit) talked about the importance of being mindful of ’echo chambers’ (a metaphorical description of when beliefs are ‘amplified’ by communication inside a defined system such as Reddit and social media). Social media is increasingly fuelling such echo chambers, and is causing users to reinforce their own political opinion. Companies like Reddit are however, working hard to make users more self-aware of this.

“Variety is the spice of life, we want our users to see other peoples’ opinions” Steve Huffman, CEO of Reddit

This talk got me thinking about the importance of ‘neutrality’ and starting with a ‘level playing field’ when using digital tools in government. By using tool such as Dialogue to host a conversation, users are hopefully able to break away from such echo chambers.

2) The future of work is changing but we’re yet to fully embrace it

Upwork presented some really interesting findings following a recent survey they conducted with freelancers within the ‘freelance economy’. Both North America and Europe have seen a huge growth in the number of freelancers over the past five years: enabling more people to adapt work around their lives rather than life around their work. Finding number one, was to move away from calling it the ‘gig economy’ which has negative connotations and instead call it ‘the freelance economy’.

Upwork also noted how we’re living in an age of paradox when it comes to where we work: we choose to live our lives in expensive cities even though we no longer have to due to technological advances in communication, for example. With the advent of the internet, we are also living in an era of lifelong learning. Employees and freelancers are choosing to build their own individual ‘skills banks’ rather than honing in on a singular skill set and career.

3) Platforms don’t always need a ‘full overhaul’

Steve Huffman and Mark Mayo (SVP of Firefox) were both humble and honest about the fact that their products haven’t been the ‘top of their game’ over the past couple of years. Both were open about the time taken, challenges and plans to make them better. Central to this was the importance of placing their users at the heart of the re-design process. Reddit for example, have chosen to keep some of the same look and feel that users love, and Firefox are designing their new browser experience for a 300 USD Acer computer because that’s what the majority of its users have.

4) We need to maintain active and effective channels of communication 

Stuart Butterfield, CEO and co-founder of Slack, gave a fantastic talk on the importance of continually innovating and re-inventing ‘channel use’. Slack itself has thousands of channels which they actively use internally: including handy ‘triage’ channels which help direct queries and unblock communication between teams. Tools such as Slack are helping to re-invent the way people work: and this isn’t just down to the features included in the product, it’s down to the way that their users are adapting processes around the tool.

5) We need to re-build consumer trust

There were lots of talks and comments during discussions at Web Summit about ‘taking back’ and re-gaining consumer rights over privacy. However this message of distrust is also having a negative effect on the demand for new features and innovation. Joel Spolsky (Co-Founder and CEO of Stack Overflow) noted how consumer curiosity drives the demand for innovation, but if users increasingly want their information to be out of view (Stack Overflow are in the process of building an internal view for example) technological advances will suffer as a result.

6) Women need to ask for promotions more

During a talk on diversity in tech, Blake Irving (CEO, GoDaddy) spoke about how women are far less likely to actively push for a promotion. Blake talked about the importance of peer reviews and effective channels of communication to help enable this. This was also a theme I overheard three different groups of people talking about during the conference. Women in tech: let’s encourage each others to push for promotions!

7) We need to ‘de-mystify’ technology


Rebecca Parsons (CTO, Thoughtworks) gave a fantastic closing speech titled ‘everybody code now’ where she advocated for the importance of ’empowering more people to understand exactly what it is that we’re doing when it comes to tech’. She noted how we’ve lost touch with how computers work and have been built: citing how the inventor of the Raspberry Pi wanted to create something that his students could use to grasp how computers work.

“If we can think of technology as something that we play with then you can empower people.” (Rebecca Parsons, CTO, Thoughtworks)

Not everyone needs to learn to code, they need to learn to ‘appreciate code’: if you can understand what it does, then that gives you the power over it, rather than the other way around.

8) We need a diverse workforce 

Lars Silberbauer (Global Director of Social Media, Lego) talked about the fantastic diversity used in their approach to marketing in his talk titled ‘levering the creative power of communities’. By using real life metrics and a diverse work force, Lego are able to use different channels and tools to help drive their global brand experience. Rebecca Parsons also echoed the importance of having a diverse workforce, noting that “real problems will be solved by a diverse group of people coming together and using technology as a tool.”

The best thing about Web Summit for me? Having 170+ nationalities all in one conference centre and genuinely feeling part of a global tech community. Massive thanks to WebSummit for offering the women in tech tickets for a second year in a row and to Delib for letting me take time out to experience such an amazing conference.

We’re hiring – excellent Account Manager wanted

Delib is growing, we have more new customers so we’re hiring for a few new members of the team. We’re looking for a new full-time Account Manager to join us at our civic tech software company in central Bristol.

100+ government organisations around the world use our products to consult the public and involve citizens in decision-making. Your job will be to retain and grow that customer base by building relationships, identifying new opportunities for people to use our tools and services, and by providing fantastic support to our current users.

This role is equal-parts reactive and proactive work: often, you’ll be responding to incoming enquiries or helping admin users when they flag up an issue. However, it’s also essential that you’re able to actively go out and engage with our customers and market. We need you to have an eye for new business, an understanding of how to expand a network and an enthusiasm for introducing more people to what we do.

You’ll be responsible for ensuring customers are happy, retained and would refer us on to other organisations. If we get this right, it’s an all-round win: we’re happy, our customers like working with us, and together we’re helping citizens connect better with decision-making.

Delib is a small company (there are about 20 of us in the whole team) and account management is key to the business – sitting between our customers, sales, and software development.

A ‘typical day’ is varied and isn’t always ‘typical’: it might involve meeting with our developers in the morning (we have a morning ‘stand-up’ each day), solving issues for our customers, speaking with them to ensure their needs are met and that they are happy, and more. Alternatively, you might find yourself in Whitehall visiting government departments or flying up to Edinburgh to present at a conference. To do this role, you need to be driven, inquisitive and open-minded, and happy to be flexible to ensure that customer needs are met. We are looking for people who search out opportunities to make things better and who get things done.

You’ll need to learn product knowledge and also, in time, become an expert in the market we work with – digital in government. It helps if you have a hook of interest in Delib – whether it’s an interest in government, in digital or just generally in doing a worthwhile job. We have teams in Australia and New Zealand and we often work with public sector organisations in Canada and the US as well, so your customer-base will be nicely varied.

We will expect you to:

  • Be responsible for a specific set of our customers, and also assist our other account managers as needed.
  • Work with the sales team to pitch and win opportunities, then take those customers through our on-boarding process. Maintain the account relationship and ensure we retain the customer.
  • Build profile with our customers and the wider digital democracy/gov community by sharing news and thinking at events, via Twitter, blog posts, presentations etc.
  • Communicate with customers by phone, email, and face to face
  • Deliver product training, both face-to-face sessions and web-based screen-shares.
  • Identify and grow opportunities within existing accounts where additional products/services can be useful to the customer.
  • Manage feedback on product improvement.
  • Help resolve support and account admin issues.
  • Work with the production team to get customers’ needs met; be able to understand and translate technical queries between customer/developers and vice-versa.
  • Seek references, recommendations & case study opportunities from customers.
  • Be aware of legal frameworks and statutory information pertinent to our products.
  • To be considered for this role, you almost certainly will have worked in account or project management for at least a couple of years, with a good understanding of how the job works.

We’re not looking for a fresh graduate (although we do hire those for other roles) or anyone else who needs the basics explained, so please don’t apply if that sounds like you.

We need you to be good with words and have a desire to learn. This is a consultative role, so warmth and personality count for a lot. All our jobs are pretty autonomous, so you’ll also have to be self-motivated, positive and determined.

Working with other time zones means, sometimes, your hours will shift (your day won’t always be a conventional 9-5:30).

Our office is a professional-yet-relaxed open plan environment. We’re a small, smart, hard-working team and you’ll be working closely with our team of account and territory managers, senior sales consultants, developers and marketers.

We’re offering £27-30k depending on experience.

If this sounds good to you, please get in touch. Send us a cover letter (to Jayne@delib.net) and your CV. We’re more interested in covering letters than in CVs. If we like the look of yours, we’ll get you in for a standard hiring interview.

We follow the HMG Baseline Personnel Security Standard and you will therefore need to satisfy basic eligibility criteria/certain conditions of employment (e.g. nationality rules/right to work); and provide appropriate documentation to verify ID, nationality, employment and/or academic history, criminal record (unspent convictions only).

We will not accept applications via recruitment companies.

Delib Goes to the Festival of the Future City

Last week I had the pleasure of attending a couple of events at ‘The Festival of The Future City’. Future Cities Catapult (FCC) collaborated with Bristol Festival of Ideas to showcase ‘the best in advanced urban services’ and innovations that are having a positive effect on our city health, infrastructure and overall wellbeing.

The workshops and sessions were spread out over three days, with everything from ‘What we can learn from cities of the past’ to ‘Playable Cities’ of the future. I personally attended ‘The Future of Metro Revolution’ with my lovely co-worker Ludwig on Wednesday and ‘Using Research for City Futures’, part of a three-piece series on Thursday morning. Members of Delib staff also visited a range of other sessions.

The Future of Metro Revolution had a thought-provoking line up of speakers, including Tim Bowles (Metro Mayor for The West of England Combined Authority), Marvin Rees (Bristol City Mayor), Peter Kurz (Mayor of Mannheim), and Alaina Harkness (Brookings Institution, Chicago).

The panel discussion – Simon Cooper (panel chair), Tom Bowles, Marvin Rees, Alaina Harkness and Peter Kurz

The session was focused on how the six new combined authorities across the UK have affected local government, what powers they have, and what the future brings. It was great to see our local mayors (city and regional) joined on a panel with views from two such different countries, and therefore hear a little about how local gov differentiates across the western world.

Peter Kurz, a German Lawyer and Politician, has been Mayor of Mannheim since 2007. He kicked things off in the session by explaining how the structure of local government in Germany, the 16 states and the form of the municipal council work. We learnt how cities split tasks into tiers, of voluntary – mandatory, and how this meant “more staff are directly connected to the client(citizens)”. We were informed about German cities currently lobbying for their rights within states, but also within Europe, Post-Brexit, with Kurz stating how important it is to use the powerful language of self-rights, especially within cities.

“Strengthening cities is a way to a better world” – Peter Kurz

Memorable quotes from discussion

The reason I chose to attend this session originally was to find out more about our new combined authority mayor and how can two opposing parties work together in a harmonious manner. Bowles introduced himself as ‘regional mayor’, adamant “regional mayors are networking together to create a stronger voice”. The role of the combined authority is to continue bringing growth for the local and national economy, Bowles expounding an interest in developing our education system.

It was great to see Marvin and Tim discussing how we can capture collective voices in cities, how behind every successful city there’s people dedicated to the task of networked leadership, and how different authority’s interdependence is important for the country to run auspiciously. Sat next to us we had a very talented illustrator capturing the moments, (link to her Twitter here).

Marvin explained how the focus on the strength of cities is not currently high on the agenda in UK Government, and this must change, with core cities collaborating to create a stronger United Kingdom.  Essentially, we must keep strengthening our communications between leaders and citizens if we want a robust nation. I got some (quality footage) of the final moments in the discussion, take a listen here.

On Thursday I attended “Using research for future cities”, led by Rachel Cooper (Imagination Lancaster), Geoff Mulgan (Nesta) and James Brooks (National League of Cities). The session explored interdisciplinary approaches to liveable cities, innovation and using data in cities. James Brooks taught us how in America, they’re currently trying to solve the opioid epidemic, with the help of collective data and partnership, after President Donald Trump announced his intention to declare a state of emergency in response to the ongoing crisis in August this year.

Opioid Epidemic data map USA

Using quantitative data displayed through maps, means that those viewing it can easily see any correlation in themes and cross reference the figures to help target help for this health crisis.  This lead on to further discussions from the rest of the speakers, Geoff Mulgan from Nesta, focusing on the means of collecting said data for cities for example, Digital Democracy.

It was great for Delib to get a chance to attend an event surrounded with citizens passionate about their city, as well as ‘experts’, but as Geoff Mulgan said, “we’re all experts in something”, and we must keep communicating and collaborating to see the changes we want in our cities, and consequently a better world. If you want to find out more about what we learnt at the festival, let us know on Twitter

Megan Tonner – Consultant at Delib

Coordinating consultation with super users

We recently learned from our client Metro North Hospital and Health Service about their initiative to streamline Citizen Space through the creation of super users (department admin users). We love watching our clients’ innovation, and Shelley from Metro North, was able to shed some light on how they actioned this initiative and the outcomes it has  achieved:

Shelley, why did you create super users at Metro North?

‘The creation of super users has allowed Metro North staff to have greater coordination and functionality at a local level when conducting consultations and has increased staff capability. As the uptake of staff using Citizen Space continued to increase, we needed to change our organisation’s approach to how we used the tool, and the decentralised model has been the perfect response.’

How do the super users work?

‘To commence the decentralisation model, frequent Citizen Space users were identified and approached to be trained as super users. This enabled them to take control at a local level within their department by doing things such as setting up news users, publishing their own and their peers’ surveys, monitoring surveys that were published within their department to minimise duplication and advocating for staff to use Citizen Space, both within their department and across the organisation. We have found that super users have also recruited second and third super users within their own department.

‘We have continued to grow our super user list through identifying high users, as well as users who are very confident in using the tool and confident in supporting others to do so. We have also approached users in smaller departments to be a super user, aiming to have at least one super user per department.

‘We provide face-to-face, individual and group training and networking opportunities for our super users to share and learn from each other, which we are already seeing in departments that have more than one super user.’

What were the benefits to creating super users?

‘We have found that staff have responded positively to the super user model and want local control, flexibility and coordination. We have seen an increase in collaboration within departments and have reduced survey duplication.

‘It has also reduced the demand on our small team – which was required, as the centralised model was neither efficient nor sustainable with our growing number of users.

‘The initiation of super users also provided opportunistic education with staff on consumer engagement.  We built new relationships with staff who we had not previously connected with and strengthened existing relationships. This has included increasing staff awareness of consumer engagement and providing education and support to staff to enable them to connect and engage with patients (including awareness of our team and what we do).’

Have you witnessed any positive outcomes?

‘Absolutely! The super user model has embedded a shared sense of responsibility across the organisation for consultations, be it with external stakeholders such as patients, the community and organisations or internally with staff. Teams have improved their internal communication and are working more collaboratively. 

‘We are also delighted with the unexpected outcome of increasing and strengthening internal relationships with staff across Metro North. We have increased staff awareness and education in consumer engagement, resulting in an increase in consumer involvement in activities across the organisation, building an even stronger patient-centred care culture.’

8 things we learnt from our Citizen Space and Dialogue user group, London 2017

We had a really fantastic and inspiring day at our London 2017 user group last week. For the second year running we were grateful to be hosted by The Department of Health (DH) in Whitehall. The room was full, with over 40 Delib customers, and we were treated to a really good variety of presentations.

Read on for my top takeaways from the day.

We heard from DH about what they have learnt about who they consult with, using insight from their Citizen Space, and BEIS about how Citizen Space has helped them to improve their internal processes with regard to preparing and publishing consultations with policy colleagues.

Network Rail talked about the approach they take to communicating with 15 million people per year, and we heard from Camden Council about their upcoming consultation using Dialogue to start a two-way conversation with residents about the future of the borough.

West Sussex Council talked about how they use Citizen Space for more than just public consultations, and how this has saved them money, and time.

In amongst that:

  • Michelle from The Democratic Society talked about some examples of consultation best practice from around the world.
  • Andy from Delib gave an overview of product updates in 2017, including the fact that Citizen Space usage continues to grow and that growth is speeding up – there are now upwards of 11,400 consultations published to our Citizen Space Aggregator.
  • Louise from Delib shared examples of some of the many really interesting and high profile consultations that have been published on Citizen Space in the last 12 months.

Here are eight things we heard from customers on the day that we think could be useful for others:

  • Citizen Space can help organisations to understand who they are consulting with, (and therefore who they are not consulting with). This insight can help to demonstrate to others where targeted communication needs to happen, to maximise responses from those whose voices need to be heard.
  • Target your communications, but then be sure to sustain those communications throughout the period of the consultation, rather than just at the outset. This will increase the likelihood of yielding higher response rates.
  • Because Citizen Space enables analysis straight away and while the consultation is still open, it is possible to see where the gaps are and target communications dynamically.
  • Making use of as much imagery as possible (maps, charts, pictures etc) will make consultations much more accessible and inviting. We all know this, but it can sometimes be easy to miss out, if there is a tight deadline, or if image copyright is difficult to get around.
  • Be creative with the tools that you already have – we heard from West Sussex about how they are using Citizen Space for things other than consultation, such as application forms, library competitions etc. Our customer described this as ‘being naughty’ but we fully support it!
  • It can sometimes feel like a risk to give people the opportunity and responsibility to have their say but, more often than not, participants will rise to that challenge and respond positively – wise words from Shane at Camden. We couldn’t agree more!
  • Genuine buy-in at a high level can really help to enable more open engagement. For members of staff who might feel nervous about opening discussion up with the public, it can really help to have express senior permission.
  • If you enable the public to ask questions openly, you can then provide the answers openly, which saves time for all involved – why answer the same question privately over and over again?

And finally, from my perspective, having that many customers in one room, sharing their own learning and experiences with each other was really wonderful, and like I said at the start, very inspiring.

So, all in all, a great day. We’re already making plans for next year’s user groups, and for those of you in that part of the world, our Canberra user group is coming up – on Thursday 26th October.

Have a look at the Delib twitter feed for our real-time take on the day.

Ration Club – Newspeak House, London, Wed Oct 11

Ration Book

Delib are excited to be hosting/chef-ing at Newspeak House’s Ration Club, on Wednesday 11th October evening.

For those who have never been, Ration Club is a regular Wednesday night fixture at Newspeak House where people from the political/democracy and civic tech community get together to eat and share ideas.

The format is based around a communal supper, where a Newspeak House member cooks a giant spread, with donations encouraged from the attendees.

The mix of people and conversation is always varied (the last time we attended, for example, we got to meet a French entrepreneur who was had a built an AI-powered ‘political robot’…)

The event’s open to all, so come along if you’re free (and drop us an email, just so we can make sure we cook enough spag bol 😉

Thoughts from Local GovCamp 2017

This weekend, Local GovCamp 2017 (the UK’s largest unconference on all things digital and government) was in Delib’s home city of Bristol for the first time.

We’ve attended UK GovCamp and Local GovCamp for many years, and we have a good history of staff blogs from earlier this year, 2014, 2013 and 2011.

Although I’m not unfamiliar with government/tech type unconferences, (I help organise Open Data Camp), this was my first ever Local GovCamp and I was really looking forward to attending. I missed the Fringe Friday, so it was just the Saturday ‘unconference proper’ for me – which, like all unconferences, started off with a long list of really interesting sounding pitches from a real variety of people.

I opted to start the day with a session called “Are we still innovating?” which was a great discussion, and, for me, certainly set the theme for the day. Whilst there have clearly been great leaps in recent years, there are still some major issues and frustrations which are sometimes felt keenly by those working in or with Local Government (I say this as someone who has been both the Local Gov customer and supplier in the last 12 months). In the spirit of Local GovCamp, this first discussion touched on some of the frustrations and disappointments but focused on the positives.

I’m a big fan of the unconference “Rule of two-feet” which encourages attendees to get up and move around between sessions, so was able to make the most of the packed agenda. Throughout the day I was in sessions about using NLP to improve communication within the context of Agile coaching; lessons on ideal team size learnt from working on a submarine; GDPR; chatbots and council websites; the risks and opportunities of Artificial Intelligence; and two different sessions on innovation within the context of digital government. And this doesn’t include the interesting conversations I was in, or overheard, in the corridors!

There was certainly plenty to think about following such a packed day, and my main takeaways are as follows:

Local Government is certainly still innovating

It can often be hard to take stock of how far we have come when change is such a constant. But having looked at the takeaways from the previous Delib blogs, it is clear to me that plenty of the ‘hot topics’ for innovation from 2011 or 2013 are now becoming much more par for the course, if not yet business as usual everywhere. For example, terms like ‘Digital by Default’, ‘Agile Working’ or ‘Open Data’ are now discussed as norms rather than ‘new’ things or ways in which government is innovating.

It is (still) really hard for Local Government to easily buy the right thing

There are all sorts of really good reasons why we have procurement rules for the public sector. However, there was a clear consensus that procurement processes can really hamper innovation, and can also be a real barrier for SME’s seeking to engage with Government. This was also touched upon during one of my ‘overheard corridor conversations’: “…Yes of course we need to keep innovating, but that doesn’t mean we don’t also all need to engage more and better with existing things like G Cloud that could really support innovation if more councils and suppliers engaged with it”.

We need to bring more people into the conversation

One of the session pitches was “Help! I’m an Elected Member!” which drew a big cheer from the crowd, (seemingly it is quite rare for anyone other than Officers to make it to these kinds of events). Certainly, there was a desire to find better ways to spread the word and share successes more broadly, and some were worried that there was a risk of only ‘preaching to the converted’.

It’s all about the people

Perhaps a cheesy way to finish up – but I’m afraid in my experience, it’s true. Anyone feeling disheartened by the challenges and frustrations of Local Government would do well to attend Local GovCamp and see how many brilliant, knowledgeable and dynamic people there are out there working hard to bring digital transformation to Government in all corners of the UK. And, yes, we do need to keep innovating, but judging by Local GovCamp last weekend, I have no doubt we will.