#localgovcamp – thinking, doing, designing

Written by: Karen Jeal

June 24, 2014 - 2:47 pm
Categories: Communication , Local Government

LocalGov Camp is in its 5th year now and has gone from strength-to-strength attracting those from all over the public sector for one weekend to get stuff done, share ideas and collect experiences. Organised by @LocalGovDigital I  think they did a fab job!

I signed up early to make sure I was involved in the action. I was a first-time-gov-camper so didn’t know what to expect. But one thing’s for sure. It didn’t disappoint.

LocalGov Camp spanned over two days. The Friday was a hack day, organised by @LGMakers where there were three challenges to complete and the Saturday was the ‘unconference’ where people pitched their ideas and then it was over to everyone to discuss and share knowledge and basically get stuck in.

So here’s 6 things I took away from the weekend:

#1 – putting faces to names
I speak to people on Twitter all the time and join in conversations but I had never met any of these people. Until now, that is. LocalGov Camp was a great way to meet new people and make connections with those doing similar jobs elsewhere. It was really useful to finally put some faces to names and now even more conversations are being had on social networks.

#2 – two’s company, three is definitely a better crowd
It was really useful to me, personally, that so many people turned up and took part. The main reason being it was a Saturday and everyone there wanted to be there. There was a room full of enthusiasm, everyone was bouncing off each other’s ideas and it was a real opportunity to share all of this knowledge. Everyone had the passion and determination to work together to make things better and had a ‘just do it together-ness’ attitude.

#3 – build, test, improve… repeat
Everyone in the room is trying to do the same in local government and it’s clear this is to make local government better, deliver better services, encourage participation and change cultures. And to do this in terms of digital you need to build agile, design with people, release quick and frequently, test, improve and … repeat.

#4 – Hack days are good
Friday took the form of a hack day and, in parts, it worked perfectly. Starting with a clear defined challenge and ending the day with something to show for it. In between it involved a lot of talking, post-it notes, doing, collaborating and working together to achieve the same thing. There was a session on Saturday about hack days and what came out of that was that free form hack days are better for culture change and that if you’re organising a hack day you need to start with a very clearly defined challenge to ensure something gets done.

 #5 – User testing is key
I attended a really useful session on user testing and the main thing everyone agreed on was that it was a vital, key part in designing any online resource. There’s a reputational risk in not testing at all but if you’re asking people to test for free you do need to make sure you’re open with the results. What’s also important is to not promise everything will change as a matter of course. You can’t react on one person’s comments, you need to look at it more widely and test, test and test even more to get a great outcome for everyone.

#6 – this format works
And finally, I took away that the format of an ‘unconference’ does work! Here are the stats – 1 venue, 2 days, 180 people, 1,500 tweets, 309 contributors and 349,827 Twitter accounts reached and most importantly there was an unlimited amount of energy and ideas… I’d say it was a huge success!


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