The LocalGov Digital Co-op – where do I sign up?

It wasn’t that long ago that I entered the world of local government digital and the one thing that absolutely blew me away was the willingness of colleagues, not just in my local authority, to share and support wherever they can.

For me, the LocalGov Digital network has been an brilliant example of a supportive community of talented professionals with diverse backgrounds and experience, all with a shared passion for service design and digital delivery within local government. Collaboration and innovation are at the heart of the network’s culture, which has been a real source of inspiration and guidance.

What the LocalGov Digital network has managed to achieve during its relatively short existence is impressive. From it’s early days where a group of likeminded digital professionals came together to explore opportunities for sharing, improvement and collaboration, the network has really had a significant impact on how local government approaches digital delivery.

Some of the outputs of the network to date include:

  • an engaging Slack community of digital professionals,
  • the Local Government Digital Service Standard that is now being widely adopted,
  • an Unmentoring framework to encourage conversation throughout local government,
  • a platform called Pipeline for project collaboration,
  • a digital content standard,
  • web usability dashboard,

The network also holds a number of digital events throughout the year including the very successful LocalGov Camp, Notwestminster, The LGDSS summit and has recently launched a number of regional Peer Group meetups.

What’s truly amazing about the above is that has all been achieved without any formal funding, resources or structure, just the commitment and goodwill of the community.

One of the biggest drivers for me moving into a role in local government was to be part of a community where I can support others with the skills and experience I have, but also to be part of something bigger. So I signed up to the Slack channel, went to a couple of events, offered to organise a peer group but there is still a level of uncertainty about whether I am actually a member of LocalGov Digital….. madness I know!

So what does it mean to be a member of LGD? I have been very lucky to be a part of an organisation with a management structure that supports my involvement. But does that make me a member? What about those whose positions don’t offer that sort of flexibility? The network is just as important to them as they are to it. To have a truly collaborative and supportive community, I think there shouldn’t be any barriers to becoming a member, but I also think it’s important for the community to have ownership and feel like they are a part of something formally recognised.

The proposal for LocalGov Digital to become a co-op really does feel like a natural step forward for the network. The basic principles of becoming a co-op seem to be well aligned and having a formal structure will provide opportunities for the network to grow and become more sustainable in the future.

A good example of how these key principles define an organisation’s structure and culture is the Co-operative Group.

http://www.coop.co.uk/corporate/aboutus/the-co-operative-group-values-and-principles/

You can see that their interpretation of the seven key principles are very aligned with the culture of LocalGov Digital and I feel would provide a level of formality that it’s members can support and feel like they are a part of.

There are also many other benefits to becoming a co-op, including:

  • more formal recognition by other bodies or authorities,
  • greater stability and sustainability,
  • a stronger sense of ownership,
  • increased credibility for its outputs, such as the LGDSS,
  • greater ability to pool its resources,
  • opportunities for the network to offer greater support back into local government organisations,

So for all of this added benefit, what would it cost to become a member of the new LGD Co-op? It has been suggested that there would be a donation or fee of £1. That to me seems incredible value considering all of the opportunities and support the network can bring.

Where do I sign up?