Day: 2 January 2019
How to write a blog post
There are bloggers who are human beings. There are bloggers who are civil servants. It seems to come as a surprise to some people that there are bloggers who are both. Jenny Vass is simultaneously a shining example of how to operate at that intersection and a clear-sighted guide to others who might want to do the same. These are her top ten tips for government bloggers, which add up to a good starting point for anybody. I would only add an eleventh, taken from George Orwell, one of the great bloggers avant la lettre:
Break any of these rules sooner than say anything outright barbarous.
It’s also good to see the post opening with an attempt to sustain the heavily threatened distinction between blog and blog post, on which Meg Pickard’s advice remains essential.
This is one of four posts related by content and timing – the others are by Janet Hughes. Lauren Currie. and Steph Gray. All four are well worth reading, with value to experienced bloggers as well as those new to blogging.
Where to start if you want to start blogging
Where to start? Well, here is no bad place, with pointers both to advice on blogging and to a wide range of individual and organisational public sector blogs. The heyday of the blogroll as a means by which one blog could signal the value of others is long past but this is a really useful freestanding equivalent It’s a perennial struggle to know where the good stuff is as blogs and their bloggers appear and fade, so having a well-informed overview of the landscape is especially helpful.
This is one of four posts related by content and timing – the others are by Jenny Vass , Lauren Currie and Steph Gray. All three are well worth reading, with value to experienced bloggers as well as those new to blogging.
How to start writing online
This is a post about blogging from a different perspective. Lauren Currie has long been a leader in giving voice to others, this post gives four ways of making the transition to a more public voice an easier one
This is one of four posts related by content and timing – the others are by Jenny Vass, Janet Hughes and Steph Gray. All four are well worth reading, with value to experienced bloggers as well as those new to blogging.
Blogging as thinking
There is much good advice to be had about how to blog, with excellent examples in the companion posts to this one. The related question of why blog tends to get less attention – or at least, the attention it gets tends to emphasise one set of reasons at the expense of another. Working in the open and being generous in sharing ideas and experience are all excellent things to do, but they are not the only value or necessarily the primary motivation.
This post sets out a different approach, to blogging as thinking, where the value is to the writer, with value to an audience a welcome bonus rather than a driving motivation. The delightful paradox is that very often that approach turns out to be the most powerful and resonant, with the greatest value to readers of all.
This is one of four posts related by content and timing – the others are by Jenny Vass, Janet Hughes and Lauren Currie. All four are well worth reading, with value to experienced bloggers as well as those new to blogging.
Beyond human-centred design, to?
A year ago, Cassie Robinson wrote a great post on why the mantra of starting with user needs was too narrow an approach to understanding the wider context of service design. This post builds on that one to explore eight types of design, or rather eight approaches to design thinking.
They don’t flow from one to the next in a completely sequential way, but they do broadly represent a gradual zooming out from the simple base case of individual user needs, starting with relational design (thinking about those directly affected by a service, not just the individual service user) and going all the way to life-centred design, the recognition that design takes place in an ecological context, at every scale from local to global.
It’s pretty clear that these eight approaches aren’t discrete or sequential, and indeed that they blur into each other. So the response of the designer should not be to pick the one or two which seem most immediately relevant, but to reflect on how the presenting problem is best understood in the wider context. This post is a great starting point for framing that thought process.
Organisations are political systems
Are organisations political systems? Yes, of course they are. Persuasion, negotiation, and coalition building are intrinsic to their operation; they are a cockpit for exit, voice and loyalty.
That’s using politics in the sense of the means by which collective choices get made rather than in the sense of the thing that politicians do. At one level that’s obvious, but at another it’s worth emphasising, because it’s all too easy to elide politics, bureaucracy and the public sector – they have much to do with each other, but they are very different.
Bureaucracy is fundamentally about being rules based. Rules are indeed constraining – that is their point – but they are also liberating (which is why estimates of the cost of bureaucracy can be more than a little tendentious). A society or polity without rules is hardly one at all and the more arbitrary and capricious the rules are, the worse the outcomes tend to be. So the question becomes whether it is useful to organisations to be rules based, or whether the associated costs of rigidity and hierarchy outweigh the benefits. That’s a pragmatic question, as is the consequential one of how best to minimise the costs and maximise the benefits of whatever level of bureucracy is appropriate for a given organisation and a given situation. That balance will be struck differently in different contexts, but it wouldn’t be surprising if public accountability and size were two relevant factors. That’s not to say that all organisations have the optimal level of bureaucracy (in a faint echo of Stafford Beer) – far from it – rather that it is not self-evident that the optimal level is zero.
All of that is prompted by this post on the politics of organisation design (the latest in a regular weekly series which is well worth following), which in turn draws heavily on a recent excoriation of organisational bureaucracy by Gary Hamel. That brings us full circle: organisations are political and assertions about their nature are intrinsically political too.