Postbureaucrat

Personal blogging by Steph Gray, founder of Helpful Digital and erstwhile bureaucrat

Featured posts

Agent O

September 1, 2017

September 2012: five years ago. The paralympic and olympic champions were parading down the Strand. David Cameron and Nick Clegg were crowdsourcing ways to cut red tape. GOV.UK was still an alpha. Luke Oatham quit his newly permanent civil service job to come and work with me. Like all good business decisions, neither of us…

20 things I learned at CommsCamp 2017

July 14, 2017

I’ve been at the annual summer CommsCamp unconference event in Birmingham today organised by the awesome Dan Slee, Emma Rogers and volunteer team. The 20-things-I-learned format is a good one, so here goes again: The General Data Protection Regulation kicks in from May 2018 and we should all learn more about it: not least because we’ll…

Digital Hero: Stephen Hale

March 27, 2017

The thing about digital engagement is, followed to its logical conclusion, it drives a rational person to despair. To do online consultation well, you really need to fix consultation itself, which involves rethinking the roles of Civil Servant and minister, and finding precious pockets of political will and bureaucratic opportunity, rare as hens’ teeth. Focussing on…

In 2016, I…

December 31, 2016

Taking a cue from Matt Jukes and others, here’s some of my abiding memories of 2016, in pictures: Took a bit more time to think and let things percolate on my daily commute into London. Tried looking for answers to Why (which I struggle with), as well as How (which is where I’m more comfortable). Found…

On experts and amateurs

July 27, 2016

When Stephen Hale blogs about something, I usually stroke my chin and nod approvingly. But there’s something in his latest post – about favouring expert skill over gifted amateurs, the troubles me quite a lot. In practice, if we need graphic design, we either need an in house graphic designer to do it or we need…

What good digital consultation looks like

November 18, 2015

This popped into my timeline today, from the fabulous digital team at the Department of Health. Stephen and Susy distill down to 37 minutes the conclusions from the experiments they’ve tried and sometimes tough lessons they’ve learned from iterating their organisation’s approach to online consultation over the last few years*. It’s brilliant in its honesty, but the…

A better website brief

July 16, 2015

As someone who runs an agency offering WordPress website development, I get quite a lot of website development briefs in my inbox. Some are excellent: they give me and the team a clear sense of what’s required. Typically, they’re documents under 20 pages long which talk quite a lot about users and goals and priorities, about what’s…

20 things I learned at #CommsCamp15

July 9, 2015

I’ve spent a really lovely day at CommsCamp in Birmingham, recharging my batteries after a busy few weeks. Spending time listening to (mainly) public sector comms people doing interesting things in their organisations has taught me loads about what’s happening at the cutting edge. It’s also reminded me just how powerful the unconference format is with the…

Five years down the road

May 16, 2015

Five years ago this weekend, I packed up my things at BIS, waved goodbye to the Civil Service and set up Helpful Technology as a freelance business. As with so much in life, I think former Friends star Jennifer Aniston says it best: When you accept a role in a pilot, you automatically sign up for…

Digital people by the ounce

February 5, 2015

Five years ago, I remember being in Government trying to buy an enterprise licence for Huddle, an innovative UK cloud-based project management tool. In those days, the technical co-founder himself would pop round our office to sort things out, and it took days of internal negotiation with IT colleagues to reassure them that using a secure…