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A look back at the 9th Transforming Together

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In November, the Infrastructure & Projects Authority, the Government Digital Service (GDS) and the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) jointly hosted its ninth and largest Transforming Together event. These event series bring together the cross-government community who are leading and working on transformation programmes and major change initiatives.

As we start a new decade, we wanted to share what was learned on the day. We hope this inspires readers who work in transformation to make their own transformation resolutions!

On the day

The event was held in London, more than 180 civil servants from across departments came for a day of talks, workshops and networking. The video below shows the highlights from the day and some of the key learnings.

The day was spent focusing on learning from one another and sharing strategies for some of the key challenges we all face within the transformation landscape. Here are 4 pieces of advice that we wanted to share. 

1.User-centred approaches to transformation

User-centred design (UCD) can change the way transformation happens, but you need to understand your organisation and why they do the things they do, for it to be successful. Without the right context, you’ll struggle to implement it.

It’s important not to lose sight of your audience. You need to carefully consider which types of evidence are going to land best with your stakeholders and prepare it in advance. Not all stakeholders will be convinced by the same sets of information.

Help is out there! There are many existing resources and frameworks for implementing best practices in UCD. The UCD Community has a list of resources which provides a good place to start, there are regular events and training and you can join the Design community basecamp where you’ll cross-government support.

2. Managing transformation through a portfolio

A portfolio is a collection of programmes that are managed as a group. It brings them all together under one area or objective. Thinking about the people and ways of working is critical for the success of a portfolio. You need to create the right environment and culture for your team, and portfolio, to thrive. When making team decisions, think about, “how do we help each other?”.

A portfolio must have a clear and unifying purpose and aim. You must be able to answer, “what are we here for?”. 

And, communication is crucial. Those involved in managing the portfolio and their stakeholders needs to have clear reporting and messaging. 

3. Strategic planning through uncertainty

Across departments, there are varying levels of maturity in business case development. There are benefits to a more structured and formalised approach. You need to link the departmental level objectives to a specific initiative. By pitching a helpful narrative you can show performance gaps and emphasise value for money. 

4. Building better tools

Rich Pictures, a diagram that helps explore an idea, work well in the early stages of transformation especially as a communication tool. These can be used to communicate with large and dispersed teams, but there is a time and place for them. It’s important to remember that the utopian view created by the picture has the potential to lead to disappointment. There are external influences and drivers which shift perspective so keep that in mind. 

Big Hairy Audacious Goals (BHAG) is an alternative technique that some of our colleagues used. BHAGs are a way to create bigger, longer term goals. They’re a great way to create team spirit, create a clear focal point and there’s a clear goal at the end. 

Thank you! 

A huge thank you to everyone who attended Transforming Together, and made it our largest event yet. We will be announcing/holding the next even in the coming months.

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