Postbureaucrat

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

Featured posts

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…

Day 1

January 21, 2015

I was sorry to see the Science & Innovation minister get the chop. Over the previous few months, we’d done some remarkably creative things: one of the early commentable policy documents, and a properly digital consultation on a White Paper. I’ll admit to being somewhat starstruck by ministers on the whole, so it felt like we’d built up…

Simpler, clearer, fairer

November 25, 2014

I attended the launch of Labour’s Digital Government Review tonight: the culmination of a few days’ fiddling and some heroic web publishing by my colleague Al, helping the Review team get the report online in commentable form. I didn’t have anything to do with the content, but I think there’s some interesting ideas contained within…

The great offices of State

October 6, 2014

I’m something of a closet nerd when it comes to Government buildings. I’ve been in and out of dozens of them for over a decade now: agency-side, at the late-lamented COI and as an assiduous, networking civil servant. I once set up a Flickr group of Creative Commons-licensed images of Whitehall HQs. Above all, I love the fact of the Tudor…

The digital comms planner

September 3, 2014

At Helpful HQ we’re a big fan of tools like the Lean Canvas or our friends Comms2Point0’s Comms Planning tool (PDF). A simple plan on a page or two that sets out what you’re trying to achieve, how you’ll know if you’ll achieve it, and what you’ll do to get there is more useful than a fistful…

Small umbrellas

September 2, 2014

Here’s a conversation that I have quite frequently during training courses when we play Dave Briggs’ evergreen Digital Engagement Game: Me: So, tell me how you’ll implement your plan… Team: Well, we’ll [do creative stuff with social media] and work with our stakeholder group to get the message out to the audience. Me: So, are your…