Personal blogging by Steph Gray, former digital agency founder and erstwhile bureaucrat


How should you measure the success of a digital team?

December 11, 2010

Some things are a numbers game: retail sales, top-flight athletics, fund management. There are standard yardsticks, you can compare the players, and there’s intense competition. Some things clearly aren’t like that: teaching, poetry, social care, research science, political lobbying maybe. That’s not to say that people don’t try, or that there aren’t measurable factors or…

A window on the wormery

November 23, 2010

Once upon a time, I managed a team who were struggling to crack a tough problem. They needed to improve the dreadful user experience of a major online transaction, but the ‘owners’ of the transaction – a ‘partner’ organisation, in Government-speak – refused to let them have access. The ‘owners’ talked about the extensive user…

The Minister, the Entrepreneur and the Civil Servant: a cautionary tale

October 27, 2010

I’ve come across this little situation enough times now to make it worth a quick post here. It’s the story of the innovative SME, the minister, and the civil servant. And it’s not exactly a fairytale. The story starts well enough: an enthusiastic entrepreneur develops something clever. They think it could have a great public…

Goodbye websites, my old friends

October 19, 2010

I don’t know what I think about website convergence any more. I used to think it was premature, driven by people without an appreciation for what the web could do, risking crushing small but smart teams doing good work online, and subsuming them into sites like Directgov and BusinessLink which were still feeling their way.…

Some definitions

September 23, 2010

I’m sure others cleverer than me have done this better elsewhere, but as part of some work I’m doing (and as a precursor to potentially revisiting That Venn Diagram on this blog later) I thought I’d try and write down some definitions of digital stuff: Digital Communications involves the use of digital channels – yours…

Where do the good ideas go?

September 20, 2010

It’s been interesting to see the development of the UK Government’s first major forays into crowdsourcing, in the form of HM Treasury’s Spending Challenge, the drive for cost-saving ideas,  and Your Freedom, a mechanism for proposing unnecessary regulation to be repealed. But even more impressive is the approach being taken in the US with,…

When should you say sorry?

September 11, 2010

So Dave Hartnett, head of HM Revenue & Customs, feels there’s no need to say sorry about reconciliations to PAYE tax payments which mean 5.7m taxpayers will be told they have under- or overpaid tax. To be honest, he may have a point. PAYE is a system which depends on accurate and up-to-date information being…

Reloading commentable documents: introducing Read+Comment

September 2, 2010

At TeaCamp today, I’m taking the Campers through one of my new projects, Read+Comment, designed to offer hassle-free publishing of commentable documents online. Introducing Read+Comment from Steph Gray It’s based on some work I’ve done recently for BIS, updating the Commentariat WordPress theme so that the team can roll out more flexible sites around their…

100 days later

August 25, 2010

Just over three months ago, I left a secure job (well, it was then) in the civil service for reasons I’ve never quite been able to explain coherently. So how have the first 100 days of postbureaucratic life been? I left planning to take a bit of time, do bits and pieces, and wait for…