What is One Team Government?

On 29th June, 186 people came together in London to talk about how we could work across disciplines to make government more effective.

Three months before that I heard James Reeve talk about making policy and delivery the same thing. I realised that there are ‘policy profession’ events or ‘service design’ events, but nowhere we could get together to break down barriers and talk about shared problems and goals. This creates mistrust and antipathy, and means that siloed thinking can thrive.

I wanted to change that. I wanted a place where anyone, regardless of their profession, discipline or background, could come to talk about government:

  • giving better advice
  • offering better services, or
  • being a better place to work.

I want to be part of reforming government for the benefit of citizens, with a focus on making it fit for the internet age. I got a team together to arrange the 29th June event, with these simple ideas in mind. We called the event One Team Government.

But since then our thinking has evolved. We want this to go beyond a single event: we want One Team Government to be a lasting movement, a positive player in public sector reform. Below are our current ideas on what we want it to be. We’d love your help shaping them up.

So what is One Team Government?

At its heart, it’s a community (join it here and see the bottom of this post), united and guided by a set of principles. Together, we are working to create a movement of reform through practical action.

The community is made up of people who are passionate about public sector reform (we deliberately want this to be wider than just government), with the emphasis on improving the services we offer to citizens and how we work. We believe the public sector can be brilliant, and we’re committed to making it so.

You don’t have to work for government to be in the community, nor be a public servant in the wider sense, nor indeed be in the UK; we need diverse perspectives, with people of all sectors, areas and interests helping. We think we’re unstoppable if we work together.

Our initial thinking (see below for how to help us iterate on this) is that we want the One Team Government movement to be guided by seven principles:

1. Work in the open and positively

We’re a community; everything we do will be documented and made to share. Where conversations happen that can’t be shared, the wider learning still will be. This is a reform cooperative, where we choose to be generous with knowledge. Ideas are infectious; we’ll share ours early and often.

We will be optimistic and positive in our approach to our work. We will believe that things can change, and we will take our part in making that happen.

2. Take practical action

Although talking is vital, we will be defined more by the things we do than the things we say. We will create change by taking small, measured steps every day — everything from creating a new contact in a different area or discipline, sharing something we’ve written, or giving our time to contribute to others’ work — and encouraging others to do the same. We won’t create huge plans, but do things that make a real difference today, no matter how big or small. We will document what they are.

3. Experiment and iterate

We don’t think there’s one way to ‘do’ reform. We will experiment with design, and put user-focused service design thinking into everything we do, learning from and with each other. We will test, iterate and reflect. We will be humble in our approach, focusing on asking the right questions to get to the best answers.

We will embrace small failures as opportunities to learn. We won’t get everything right, and we won’t try to. We will listen, learn and improve together.

4. Be diverse and inclusive

Our approach to inclusiveness and diversity is driven by a simple desire to better represent the citizens we serve. We’ll put effort into making that so, by balancing our events, making sure our teams are reflective of society at large and by making sure we have a range of citizen and team voices in the room with us.

Our ideas will be created by a diverse group of people, drawn from the widest possible sets of views and experiences. We understand the people have different views so will rely on generating a quality conversation rather than reaching total agreement. We will support each other and value each voice that wants to contribute. We will work to avoid groupthink.

5. Care deeply about citizens

We work for users and other citizens affected by our work; everything we do will be guided by our impact on them. We will talk to them, early and often; we will use the best research methods to understand them better. We will be distinguished by our empathy — for users and for each other. The policy that we develop will be tested with real people as early as possible, and refined with their needs in mind.

6. Work across borders

We believe that diverse views make our outcomes and services better. We will be characterised by our work to break down boundaries between groups. This means we’ll work across:

  • professions: we will make policy and delivery the same thing, building empathy and understanding between policy, digital, operations and more
  • departments: every One Team Government piece of work should be shared with other departments, through show and tells or sharing documentation
  • sectors: our community will include think tanks, academics, charities and private sector organisations. This will not compromise our impartiality, but will make our ideas stronger and wider.
  • borders: we will be global public servants, seeking opportunities to find common ground with other nations and sharing experiences with them.

7. Embrace technology

We are passionate about public sector reform for the internet age. We will be a technology-enabled community, using online tools to collaborate, network and share. We will put the best of digital thinking into policy and service design, using technology to make us quicker, smarter, better and more data-driven. We will help to shape a public sector we can be proud to work in in the 21st century.

Applying the principles

We’ve got these as some potential objectives — please help us shape them up:

  • Amplify others

We’re not the only people thinking about reform. We’ll use our community power to increase the reach of existing ideas, documenting them, helping to shape them and spreading them as far as possible beyond where they’d usually go.

  • Use our networks to join people together and build relationships

We will be networked leaders. We’ll facilitate conversations, joining people up working on similar things. We’ll curate networks of specific interest groups, making sure that those working on similar problems can talk even when we’re not there. We’ll emphasise the power of human relationships in creating momentum for change.

  • Publish and share learning

We want great ideas to infect everyone’s thinking. Where things are great, we’ll publicise them. This will include curating reading lists, sharing case studies and organising visits to successful teams so we can learn from them.

  • Consult

The One Team Government community is new and small, but it already has some of the brightest minds in the public sector in it. The community will take time out to help those who want to do better in their own areas, making the whole sector better.

  • Invest in our place of work

In our own areas, we’ll find opportunities to influence and improve the way teams work together, not constantly reinventing ideas but shaping up existing ones too. We will actively work to join up policymakers, digital teams and other professions in our own departments, acting as role models for reform and inspiring as many people as we can.

  • Organise events

We will create chances for passionate reformers to get together, create ideas and take action. We’ll run a series of One Team Government events, helping people come together to have big reform conversations and keep the community momentum going. We’ll help other people run events too, taking our learning and branding and giving it to anyone who wants it.

Want in?

Our thinking on this will iterate. It’s supposed to. We want you to influence and improve our ideas. Please help in one of these ways:

If you’re really in this with us, sign up to our community here: https://goo.gl/forms/E9Rfl1Z7gKzesOd52

You can also:

comment on what we’re doing here:

join our Slack channel here: https://oneteamgovernment.slack.com/join/shared_invite/MjA4ODI0Njc4NjQ3LTE0OTkyNDgzMzYtYTYxNDBmZTI4OA

Or get in touch at contact@oneteamgov.uk

Sincere thanks and love to everyone on the OneTeamGov team who helped out with this post – #unstoppabletogether

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