Now is the time to work only on stuff that matters.
tl;dr I’m leaving the lovely people of White October, to go and help the organizations that we’ll need in the 21st century, to transform themselves digitally.
We’re living in unprecedented times. I know this isn’t a revelation, but it’s the reason why I’ve decided to leave the Oxford-based agency, White October, where I’ve been Technical Director for the last year and a bit. The unprecedented times I’m talking about are the following:
- The rise of more right-wing governments, even hard right-wing, who are rolling back the provisions made by the state for people in difficulty at an alarming rate.
- The upcoming societal shock of automation and machine learning and its effect on people’s jobs and purpose, as well as on the economy.
- The risks caused by climate change, by our reliance on petrochemicals and our increasing reliance on rare earth elements which are dangerous to mine and refine.
- The increasing inequalities between rich and poor, both in financial terms and life outcomes.
- The rise of the “gig-economy” where people are treated increasingly as work units, eminently replaceable with automation, with an erosion of rights and where the business model of an organisation is predicated on this new mechanism of “employment”.
- An increasingly hostile environment for migrants and refugees, where protectionism and isolationism feels like a prevailing political vehicle in places like the UK, USA, France and beyond.
As Tom Whitwell sagely points out on Twitter, not everything is awful, huge progress is being made on childhood mortality and disease. I am not so vain as to think I can fix any of the societal challenges I’ve listed, that’s not why I’m leaving my current role. I’m leaving because I have a slightly specialist skill-set, that I wasn’t getting the chance to use enough, around helping organisations to transform their culture to become digital businesses or build new products that help people. This transformation can save these organisations money, which for a charity means they can do more good, it can improve the services they deliver by making them user-centric and can increase their reach and influence. That’s what I hope to achieve. I also want to be able to look my children in the eye and tell them that I tried to help when the world became less kind and inclusive for a while.
Who are these organizations I’m intending to work with? Well they’re charities, trade unions, even political parties or hyper local community groups, and businesses who want to do good as part of doing business. They’re the organizations that we will need all the more when the state shrinks and people increasingly fall through the cracks. They have common features around fundraising, membership, advocacy and service provision and there may be economies of scale or shared platforms to be built and used.
If you’re in one of these organizations and would like to work together, please get in touch with me. I’m @jaggeree on Twitter or you can message me on Medium.
Onwards and out.
p.s. if you want to be the Technical Director of a truly excellent agency (White October), I’ll happily connect you. They’ve been amazingly supportive of my decision and for that I publicly thank them.