Bringing #OneTeamGov to the north

I’ve been the digital engagement lead behind bringing OneTeamGov to the north.

OneTeamGov is a community, united and guided by a set of principles. The community is made up of people who are passionate about public sector reform within and outside government, with the emphasis on improving the services we offer to citizens and how we work. OneTeamGov is working to create a movement of reform through practical action.

In my day job in DWP Digital, I design and run a range of internal and external engagement campaigns and channels, including events.

Being involved in OneTeamGov felt different, in a very good way. I wanted to share my experience to inspire other people working in public services to make time to do something different and get involved with OneTeamGov.

Why is OneTeamGov different?

The beauty of OneTeamGov is that it isn’t owned by anyone. It happens because a collective of people who have a passion for improving public service want to make that better.

That means there isn’t a senior person anywhere who tries to steer the day; there isn’t a committee of people trying to serve different and sometimes conflicting agendas; there is no hierarchy amongst the volunteers who make OneTeamGov happen; these volunteers support each other to make it work. There are people you can lean on for practical help, advice or just to listen to worries and show empathy. This makes it very refreshing and exciting to be part of.

Find your tribe

Our volunteers for OneTeamGov were from central and local government and the external digital sector. Everyone had a shared goal of bringing OneTeamGov to the north. Everyone committed time to think and do things to make the day work, using whatever skills and contacts they had available.

That’s important, because it created a rich set of skills to draw on and a mix of ideas and ways of working that was really good to be part of.

We also drew on experience from previous OneTeamGov events, with very welcome help from David Buck.

All the channels

A lot of people in our tribe had never met in person before the OneTeamGov event. Everyone struggled to regularly join a weekly telephone call. We used e-mail a bit but it wasn’t immediate enough; e-mails were easily lost in someone’s inbox which is already busy with their day job.

We tried using Slack, which was OK for some things but less useful for others. Slack worked well to keep us in touch with people who had set up previous OneTeamGov events. Slack wasn’t as useful for keeping our tribe connected across local and central government and the external digital sector. It didn’t feel like the place where we all hung out.

We used GoogleDocs a bit, mostly to write and share the narrative, event design and draft communications. GoogleDocs was OK but not an obvious tool for everyone in the tribe.

For me, twitter worked best. It’s the one place where everyone could be found. We had one DM group for all the tribe to share regular updates. We had smaller DM groups to work on specific topics like arranging guest speakers. We DM’d individuals to quickly ask questions or get a view.

Digital engagement skills

People with digital engagement and event design skills are essential to making OneTeamGov happen. The initial ideas and enthusiasm need to be turned into practical actions. These include funding, securing a venue, managing registration and tickets, owning the agenda, creating the slidedeck, designing and ordering lanyards, posters and stickers, supporting hosts and keynote speakers, managing social media, and running the event itself.

Content creation and management is essential too. This starts from setting the narrative, turning this into content for EventBrite, social media, requests to speakers and hosts, e-mail communications with delegates. On the day itself it’s about designing the story from the event, capturing this in photographs and video interviews, editing and releasing these on social media on the day to keep the story immediate and fresh.

On the day

Digital engagement and event design require nerves of steel, confident decision-making, plenty of energy, being calm under pressure, a razor-sharp focus on time, able to quickly build rapport and being constructively assertive when required.

It works best when the team is very comfortable working together. This means they use their own shorthand when communicating with each other. Everyone can quickly interpret what’s needed, step in to help each other and sort out any issues that will inevitably arise on the day.

The team usually has their own back-channel for communication, so they can keep in touch in different rooms in the venue and resolve any issues behind the scenes.

On the day, the practical actions include getting equipment to the venue, setting out the rooms with posters and signage, managing the slidedeck and presentations, liaising with and settling hosts and speakers, organising the flow of delegates round the venue, managing interactive polling using Sli.do.

We also filmed interviews with people on the day, edited the videos and posted four of these on social media. We took photographs that we posted on social media with quotes from some of the speakers, and we’ll use the photographs in blog posts too.

I’m most proud of two things: the event ran smoothly; and our creative content was fresh, immediate and frequent during the day.

When things go wrong

Close teamwork is vital when things go wrong and here are a couple of examples from OneTeamGovNorth.

It took us longer than usual to set up the slides, which put us behind schedule to register delegates. It meant we couldn’t get a list of last-minute delegates to the registration desk in time so their names had to be written down on paper instead. It wasn’t a big deal, but explaining why that decision had to be made on the spot to people outside my team took a bit longer because we didn’t have the same language and experience of working together.

We used Sli.do and at one point we lost the ability to flip to the Sli.do results on the main screen. I had to slide across the floor to switch it over and then stay crouched under the screen until that bit of the presentation was over. My team stepped in to manage Sli.do while I was hiding under the table, which meant that the day continued seamlessly for delegates.

Practical actions

The OneTeamGovNorth event was organised to bring together people with influence and interest from all levels of central and local government, third sector organisations and private sector individuals who deliver or improve services for citizens.

We’ve started the conversation, helped people to make connections, and increased the OneTeamGov community.

It’s a good start and there’s more to do to share the practical actions and generate more collaboration in future. Follow the OneTeamGov community on twitter or join the Slack group.

More OneTeamGov events are a great way to bring people together and grow the community. This blog post might help and encourage people to get involved. Get in touch with me if you’d like me to share more about what we learnt and how we helped to make #OneTeamGovNorth happen.