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Blog Post

Bringing OneTeamGov principles to existing events

By: James Reeve

This week I ran OneTeamGov sessions at two government events; this post explains how I did it and how you could do the same.

By ‘ran OneTeamGov sessions’ I mean that I ran two different types of session within existing events to discuss how our seven principles (work in the open; take practical action; experiment; be diverse and inclusive; care deeply; work across borders; embrace technology) could help make government better.

The first was a conference for the Department For Education; in particular the people that help build and reshape schools all around the country. The day was full of innovative ideas for working together, and I was invited to run a OneTeamGov session halfway through the day. Because everyone at the conference is a user of an internal system which is about to go through a complete redesign, we had a go at some group user research. Over 15 minutes, we had over 70 people self-organise into user groups and then discuss pain points with the current system and what they wanted to keep. The team redesigning the service were there to capture input and see how users self-identify. We got some great insights and now all of those people understand a little bit more what it is to be a user.

The second event gave us two hours to run a mini unconference. The host was Transforming Together, a whole-day cross-government conference started by the Government Digital Service and hosted by other departments on a rotating basis. This time it was the turn of the Ministry of Justice and the agenda was set by the brilliant Tom Read and team. We welcomed people to the stage for the traditional pitches, followed by two half-hour slots (with 5 sessions per slot). This worked beautifully for the approximately 100 people at the event (though it probably helped that about half the audience had been to an unconference before).

People clearly enjoyed the sessions and the format worked, as ever, to energise and inspire people to action. I joined two sessions; one on how to make Transforming Together better, and one on small steps we can take to improve diversity. There were other sessions I would have liked to join, like Dave Rogers talking about why transformation means turning things off, and our friends from New Zealand talking about his they make inter-agency working better (if you want to go fast go alone, if you want to go far go together).

As ever, I and the other OneTeamGov helpers (thanks David B, James J, Ben K, Joe S, Tracey A/W, Mark O, Emma S) weren’t at these sessions to tell people how to ‘do transformation’, but to facilitate, encourage and inspire people to take actions themselves. They were experiments in asking people to have a go at doing rather than hearing, which is what they’re used to at corporate events. Given that the rest of these conferences was organised by someone else meant it was all very easy to bring the OneTeamGov principles to a huge audience.

I think the benefits of this kind of session inside a traditional conference are:

  • The subject matter is spontaneous, so people have a chance to talk about the issues that matter to them most at the time and they are more likely to create actions to take away
  • They allow a wider and more diverse group to talk at a large event (it isn’t dominated by the most senior but the most relevant)
  • They bring the principles of OneTeamGov to the context of the event, for a combination of relevance to the audience but a transformational perspective

Why not offer to do a OneTeamGov-inspired session at a conference or event near you? I’ve linked to the slides I used for the unconference session so that bit is done for you too. Get in touch on Twitter @OneTeamGov or if you want more help with this; the OneTeamGov committee is there to help.

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