This is #MyOneTeamGov by Doug Knox

Douglas Knox
May 31, 2018 · 5 min read
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Finding One Team Gov

I work for the Forestry Commission which has links into the Defra Group of public bodies. It was through working on Forestry Commission contributions to the Defra Open Data project that I met the legends that are DEFRA’s James Arthur Cattell and DavidBuck!

Whilst talking about how to work in the open James and David told me about what One Team Gov founders Kit Collingwood and James Reeve were aiming to do. I really liked the sound of bringing policy and delivery closer together in the digital age by sharing problems, learning and removing silos.

So in June 2017 I followed the first OneTeamGov event via Twitter and after this I was delighted to see the fantastic Sarah Drummond’s call to action and suggestion of running an event in Scotland. Given how keen I was on culture change and the better ways of working that were a focus of the network I volunteered to get involved!

It came along at a time when my organisation was embarking on a devolution journey and organisational change which is often quite unsettling for some. In April 2019 my part of the Forestry Commission will become an agency of the Scottish Government. So this came along at the right time to help me expand my networks as my organisation transitions into the Scottish Government ‘family’.

Working as part of One Team Gov Scotland and with Katy McNeil in particular has been great You’d be hard pressed to find a person with better networks of contacts in the Scottish Government, so she was just the sort of person I needed to meet!

What I like about OneTeamGov

It feels great to be plugged into a network that is so passionate about public service reform.

As a team leader in the Forestry Commission I’ve been particularly inspired by the One Team Gov principles. These have really helped shape the way I lead and work with others to continually seek improvements in how we work and deliver better outcomes.

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I lead a team of twelve that cover a range of national support roles. These include organising field surveys for data capture, through to systems and data management.

We work closely with colleagues in our Forest Research agency to develop geospatial applications to meet the user needs of hundreds of staff involved in managing public forests. We also use our significant volumes of data to help us model and undertake option testing of land management scenarios, aimed at delivering a balanced range of ecosystem services from the public forest estate.

Being part of the One Team Gov network has helped me take part in discussions that have developed my thinking on the use of data and technology to support policy formulation and operational delivery.

At the end of the day the needs of my organisation to continuously improve delivery in the internet era are not dissimilar to many other public bodies. Being part of One Team Gov has helped me to learn from others and identify practical actions which improve my work and the public services that my organisation delivers. That feels good!

What I’ve been involved with so far

When I saw Sarah Drummond’s call to action on Twitter to form a One Team Gov Scotland group I volunteered to be part of the team who organised the first unconference in Edinburgh in November 2017.

It was during this that I met Sarah herself as well as the awesome Leah Lockhart, Leah Black and ktmcneil. That was the beginning of a great experience working as a team to do something I’d never done before; to plan and run an unconference event for a mix of over 120 policy, delivery and digital people.

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Sarah Drummond and Doug Knox — One Team Gov Scotland, November 2017

The way we organised this event was truly reflective of collaboration and improving public service in the digital era. Despite working together over several months to organise the event we only met in person on the evening prior to the event!

All of the planning was done via web-conferencing calls and tools like Trello and Google Drive. The event materials that we created and the lessons learned were made openly available to others.

It was then great to be able to share these with Amy Harcombe and Toby Maxwell-Lyte as they planned their first One Team Gov unconference in Wales and do our little bit to help the network grow further.

I also worked with the group to run a One Team Gov mini-unconference at the Scottish Government’s Firestarter Festival in February 2018. Some new volunteers came on board to help us run this event including folk like kim mclaren who completely understands the need for One Team Gov and its ethos. Kim is doing a great job helping to raise the profile of the network using sketch notes and animations amongst other things!

This cut down version of a One Team Gov unconference was a nice intimate event and one which we’d do again. On the back of it we are looking at other opportunities to collaborate between the One Team Gov Scotland group and the Firestarter Festival organisers — including joint breakfast meetups.

Working internationally and looking ahead to #OneTeamGovGlobal

The international aspect of One Team Gov Global is exciting but we’re no strangers to working internationally in the business of operational delivery and state forestry!

The Forestry Commission’s management of the public forest estate is independently certified against international sustainable forest management standards. We also work with others internationally to develop approaches that use data to understand the stocks and flows of natural capital and help develop strategic approaches to sustainable land management.

When I joined the Forestry Commission I never thought I’d be asked to work internationally with other state forest organisations to advise the European Space Agency (ESA)! But that is what I found myself doing to help the ESA meet the user needs of foresters for satellite technology to monitor land use change and condition.

Working internationally like this was a great experience of collaboration between policy people who had information needs and earth observation technology experts. As a result I gained some great international forestry and space technology contacts. I’m also proud to have played a tiny part in helping ESA set up satellite data services that now help underpin good land management globally!

I for one am really looking forward to the One Team Gov Global unconference.

That’s #MyOneTeamGov — what’s yours?

Thanks to Sam Villis for the blog edits.

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