NESTA, an innovation charity that works a lot with the public sector, recently ran a workshop with Essex County Council around the theme of mindset. 

A bit of an amorphous topic, perhaps, but a very important one to tackle if an organisation wishes to implement lasting positive change. There tends to be a mindset within public services of ‘well, we’ve always done things this way’. There can be resistance in many cases to changing methods of working, not least because effective, organisation-wide change is expensive in the short term.

Changing the modus operandi

This mindset is slowly changing, with many councils striving towards digital transformation and incorporating new technology across the UK. Essex County Council is ahead of the curve in many respects: until May of this year, Jason Kitcat, an ex-politician and expert in digital transformation, was appointed as Executive Director for Corporate Development. During his tenure he radically altered the way the Council operates, implementing agile working methods, shifting the mental model to a more ‘agricultural’ one (i.e., rather than focussing solely on results, ensuring that the correct conditions are in place for those results to manifest) and building specialised teams that are best placed to ensure the continuity of these changes and improvements – both internally and externally.

One of these teams is Organisation Development and People. They’re the team NESTA worked with a couple of weeks ago, giving them a workshop on mindsets – the different types, and how to change them. Kelly Duggan and Sonja Dahl, the workshop facilitators, write in a blog:

“Staff who possess an innovative mindset are pivotal, but are still only one piece in the puzzle. The Mindset Challenge has reinforced our understanding that shifting and changing mindsets, or ways of working in the public sector, isn’t guaranteed to happen in a three-day, nine-day or even 12-month learning programme. Over time, people can shift mindsets – but lasting change requires an environment that actively supports them in doing so.”

Mental agriculture & digital as default

This relates to the ‘mental agriculture’ culture mentioned above. In an interview I did with him a few months ago, Jason Kitcat said: “We need to work to understand and support the positive conditions that will enable seeds to germinate and for plants to flourish. You can’t actually make a seed germinate, you can’t make a flower bloom, but you can do everything you possibly can to make it as likely as possible. And that kind of way of working is how we need to look at the world, and at complex systems…[so] we’ve created a set of capabilities in the organisation…by bringing together all the skills we think we need to build a multi-disciplinary team that can deal with any big problem that a local government might face.”

Modern tools like Citizen Space, that are proven, that have a good track record, are a really important thing to add to the mix so that we can encourage officers to take more use of it and make it a more friendly experience for citizens.

Jason Kitcat

An inevitable part of changing mindsets as a local council is technology and embracing digital as default. Delib’s tools have been an integral part of the digital mindset for many councils across the world – Essex included. “Modern tools like Citizen Space, that are proven, that have a good track record, are a really important thing to add to the mix so that we can encourage officers to take more use of it and make it a more friendly experience for citizens,” Kitcat said.

We understand that digital isn’t the standard mode of operation for everyone – that’s why our tools are simple, effective and easy to use for everyone, whether you’re a site admin or a citizen. They’re fully adaptable, meaning that they work on mobile, desktop, or tablet. In making it simple to publish a consultation, and simple to respond to one, we aim to change the mindset surrounding consultation – and reduce the divide between citizens and government.

If you’d like to hear more about how Delib can help with your organisation’s digital transformation, drop us a line.