Excerpts From Contributions To The ‘Digital Strategy’ Debate — Tynwald Court, Tuesday 16th June 2015:
Some quotes from Mr Robertshaw:
I want to build my contribution in this debate around a particular phrase on page 4 of his report, and I quote:
`Digital working requires a revolution in thinking.’
are we, as Hon. Members of this Court, ready to do that? Are we ready to adopt revolutionary thinking? The answer to that question, at least from my experience, is, regrettably, that we are not.
It was arriving at that conclusion, whilst still the Minister for Policy and Reform, that ultimately drove me to the decision to step down in order that I could speak more freely and frankly than was possible in office. I am of the view that what I have to say is too blunt and too uncomfortable to come from a Minister
Governments almost everywhere are struggling to come to terms with the simple fact that digital inclusion changes everything. By way of example, in this year’s annual Dimbleby lecture on the subject of digital inclusion Baroness Martha Lane Fox — who incidentally worked closely with the UK government’s Cabinet Office on their digital inclusion programme — when calling for a much greater engagement on the part of her government, said this:
‘In a digital world it is… possible to have good public services, keep investing in frontline staff and spend… less money, saving money from the cold world of paper and administration and investing more in the warm hands of doctors, nurses and teachers.
There is a huge opportunity… to do public services differently. What we need is politicians… who can escape the old assumptions.’
‘Why’, she said in a somewhat exasperated voice, are they ‘not talking about this?’ Her answer to her own question was ‘because they don’t understand it well enough’.
Our traditional way of working and thinking as politicians is, in my view, now getting in the way of our potential future success.
where were we ranked in those 34 jurisdictions when it comes to digitally starting a new business? Quite shockingly, we are ranked 33, almost bottom of the class. Again and again the Chief Minister has quite rightly reiterated the importance to our future prosperity and wellbeing of achieving a truly business-friendly environment, and yet here we are, almost last in Europe in our ability to efficiently start up a new business through digital access.
Our instinct is to departmentalise everything, to put issues in boxes, to operate in silos and to seek out and apportion blame; but that is exactly why we are where we are.
New business start-ups, be they digital or non-digital, need one place, need a one-stop shop. In other words, they need one government, a single government for all their advice and guidance wrapped up in a clear and positive, well-presented and co-ordinated package.
The truth is we do not provide the fully integrated service, either digitally or manually, nor are we constructed in our present form to be able to do so. That is why we are nearly bottom of the class. We must start thinking differently and we must start acting differently.
It is not our way to put the individual citizen first in a holistic sense, to provide a one-stop shop for their needs.
If Government is to be fit for future purpose then it must be built around the legitimate needs of our businesses and the needs of the individual citizen: putting the customer first.
What is not yet clear is just how Government is going to overcome the huge task ahead. This, combined with what has been a multi-year squeeze on household budgets, the belief that Government is neither as business friendly as it was nor that it puts the needs of the citizen before its own interests, has all helped to create a certain degree of unease and loss of confidence.
If we are to re-establish confidence in Government and engender optimism in the Island’s future — and there is no reason why we should not think that way — then we need clarity of purpose and need to get the principles in place as a solid starting point.
John Micklethwait in his recent book The Fourth Revolution, the alternate subtitle of which was The Race to Reinvent the State — and there is a race on — puts it better than I can when he says:
‘Modern politicians are like architects arguing about the condition of individual rooms in a crumbling house, rushing to fix a window here or slap a new coat of paint on there, without ever considering the design of the whole structure.’
We fear change and we wish to cling to that within which we feel comfortable and safe, and we continue to do that at our peril.
Let me use another analogy, a somewhat overused one: that of likening us to a single company or organisation, Isle of Man Plc. If we brought a business analyst in to construct a future projection for our organisation, what might that analyst report? I believe we would be told that our future outgoings were projected to rise significantly, that our projected income would not be sufficient to meet the increase, that we were seriously top heavy, that both our business customers and our individual customers would be resistant to further price increases, and that we were not delivering a high enough quality properly co-ordinated customer service to either major segment. In other words, that we urgently needed to fundamentally review our strategy.
..what we need is a revolution in our thinking
“If there is a problem, it is because this Government has too much control over the parliamentary process”
“Government clearly does not have control over the expenditure of IT — it is about £50 million that has been spent in the last three years”
“I think that having the Economic Policy Review Committee examine this report is a way forward to give more opportunity for scrutiny.”
“I have always argued that we pay champagne prices for brown stout services. What I am concerned about with this report is it is very flash”
“if we are going to enhance and improve our digital performance, that the outcomes are based at what the end user wants and not what the Department wants”
“We are falling further and further behind”
“We are struggling economically. We are enjoying economic growth at the moment, but that growth is not as strong as it needs to be. We need to find other ways to diversify the economy and to speed up the growth if we are to be able to even maintain the standard of living that we have at the moment, let alone improve it for the future”
“it also enables us to give confidence to the business community that the Isle of Man knows where it is going, knows where it has to be and will do its best to work alongside the business community to grow the economy.”
“this is not the end game, this is only the start”
“the mover actually said that this digital project would be reported on a ‘performance digital dashboard’, but I could have heard it that the whole of Government performance was going to be carried out on a new digital performance dashboard. So can the mover actually describe whether it is just performance of the Digital Strategy that is going to be reported in that way, or will the whole of the Agenda for Change reporting framework be moved over to this new performance digital dashboard?”