"The strategy is delivery" is the mantra of the Government Digital Service, the team charged with the digital transformation of government service provision.
If you've recently used any gov.uk site and been pleasantly surprised at the ease and simplicity of the transaction, then this is the team – led by Mike Bracken, under the auspices of the Cabinet Secretary Francis Maude – that is responsible. You can find out more about this very impressive transformation here.
Their task is a massive one and last week marked the halfway point of the 400-day journey. At Sprint 14, the big get-together to mark this occasion, we saw many new improved sites. Registering for PAYE, applying for visas and booking prison visits all were demoed by Government representatives.
Baroness Martha Lane Fox, whose report in 2010 on the old status started the whole effort, made a rousing speech thanking everyone for their work. She explained that the ambition for the enterprise – to make the Government more open and accessible for all – matches Sir Tim Berners-Lee's original vision for the world wide web. She pointed out that the task has now reached a critical-mass scale. Which meant that, as with all such efforts, professionalism and hard work tend to overtake the chaotic frenzy of start-ups. She said: "People say to me, it's just not the same any more, you don't stand on a desk shouting… No, it has grown up, it's really creating change at scale."
As for the strategy, it is fair to say that the most crucial part of any strategy is execution, or delivery. There's really not much point otherwise, which means that the most important job of any strategist is delivery. The strategist's role does not – cannot – stop at design. It's crucial to maintain real progress. Strategy means not just doing the next thing that demands your attention. It means looking up from the "urgent" and considering the "important".
The real goal of the Government's digital strategy is to put users at the heart of design. Maude commented last week that "this seems obvious, but is easily forgotten". So "the strategy is delivery" means delivery against the user experience.
This is as true for media as it is for the GDS. Delivery is everything, and the user journey is the heart.
Sue Unerman is the chief strategy officer at MediaCom
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