How do we create the tipping point for digital collaboration?

How do we create the tipping point for digital collaboration?

So how do we create the tipping point for digital collaboration – in Leeds, or anywhere else for that matter? Participating in the recent digital festival, conference and then follow up discussions about the potential for a digital body in Leeds, I’m struck by how far we’ve come and where we might go next…

More than just a hobby – social media is quickly shifting from hobby status to an essential part of the communications mix in many public sector organisations. However, it is by no means universal

Finding the point – the conversation is moving on rapidly from ‘let’s get on Twitter ‘cos they are’ to ‘what’s the purpose and what are we trying to achieve?’

So what? – identifying a purpose inevitably lends itself to asking questions about how we measure whether we’ve achieved what we set out to do. We’re not even being properly held to account for the time and energy we are putting in to our digital presence; or fully understanding for ourselves if the time we’re investing is worthwhile. We need to work out which tools help us to assess our impact both quantitatively and qualitatively

Dispersing the social – it’s not just about the corporate account any more. More individual services are developing their own social media presence. This raises all sorts of fascinating questions about central control versus local autonomy; consistency versus variety –there is a balance to be struck and we’ll work it out collectively as we go

Digital identity – professional guidelines and other social media rules seem to appear on an almost daily basis and we’re thinking more consciously, individually and corporately, about how we behave online and the related consequences

Accessibility  – a significant chunk of people with an interest in engaging with public sector organisations, might well be people who are the least likely to be online.  We can’t focus efforts on our digital presence without paying attention to reducing the digital divide

Collaboration between ourselves – we’re beginning conversations about how we can support each other and make the most of our limited resources – how can we make our organisational boundaries more permeable and collaborate well? It’s easy to see the challenges but what are the opportunities?

Collaboration with others – we’re beginning to look beyond our immediate public sector door-step and collaborate with digital agencies. For example, bidding for funds to bring digital together with creative and health sectors to improve health outcomes. This approach brings powerful opportunities for the future. How can we develop this further?

You can see the slides from a presentation I recently gave to the Institute of Communications at the University of Leeds here about our on-going digital evolution at Leeds and York Partnership NHS Foundation Trust – an example of just one public sector organisation taking our first steps.

We’re only in the infancy of a public sector digital evolution and I’m not sure we’re even standing on all-fours yet. Connecting with the digital sector, not just individually, but collectively, seems like an excellent way to understand what our city has to offer, know who, how and when to collaborate and to do innovative and exciting things collaboratively. I’d love to hear from other public sector and digital agencies in Leeds as well as from other parts of the UK about where we go next. Who’s up for working and learning together?

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  1. Really interesting post, you have definitely hit the mark re the digital divide, for some people it seems lack of resources, for others it’s resistance to embrace change and then there’s the marmite effect – but love it or hate it it’s the way things are going and there are definitely many benefits. I can’t wait till we are standing on all fours I think it’s going to open up a way of communication that we could never even have dreamt of before. Lets hope that advances in technology continue to bring down the costs to make it more accessible for all.

    • Thank you for your comment Emma. It’s so fantastic to have clinicians such as yourself who are enthusiasts and leaders for social media innovation. There are some important conversations for clinicians to have together about how to use social media professionally and I hope I can facilitate some of this in our organisation 🙂

  2. You have raised some great points and asked some great questions.

    We can’t solve society’s problems on our own, that’s for sure.

    I work for one of the councils who contributed to the commission on the future of local government(you can find a summary and report here In a nutshell the commission is about how we look to serve society in a better way. Yes, it’s deep stuff but it is important.

    The bit that really interests me in my role in communications and engagement is covered in the proposition about devising a new social contract. We need to devise and deliver creative comms and engagement solutions that will ease the head shift required for service providers and service users alike to understand the changes to how care and support services will be accessed and delivered in future.

    So we need to create trusted environments for discussions about care and support options and use channels that vulnerable people will use.

    And for that we so need to work together, so count me and Leeds City Council in.

    I’ve just been tasked with looking at developing and effectively maintaining social media strategy. But I’m thinking this is not just about social media, and nor is it solely about digital engagement. It has to be about SOCIAL and being a social organisation, both to create the will to good things internally, to work in partnership and to use that joint knowledge to increase trust for the benefit of service users.

    What I’ve found from 18 months use and study of social media is that virtual relationships lead to real relationships and reduce social isolation. To me this is how digital can be used for social change.

    Happy to work together on exploring how we can make a difference and create this social contract.

    • Really looking forward to working with you on this important agenda. I agree that the opportunity (and the challenge) is to be more social, and we have a range of media that enable us and others to do this. I think social media affords a shift in gear that pushes public sector organisations be more social and this is what fascinates me. Capacity building is very important as there’s no point in being social online if the people we want to be more social with aren’t there. That’s why my next priority is to set up regular (hopefully weekly) social media surgeries for people working with and using mental health services. But that’s another blog post…


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