Wednesday 22 August 2012

A day in the life

I've always worked in very traditional environments where there were either thinkers or do'ers. The do'ers were on the front line and did and the thinkers were behind them, researching, reading, discussing and then issuing strategies and directions which would then be cascaded down to the do'ers.

My current role is a wee bit different and it suits me much better. It involves lots of thinking and it involves lots of doing and very often both in the same day. Like today. There was the bringing together of 2 departments with another involved in the discussion but not present where we established some silo working had been happening and established steps in order to resolve that so that everyone shared thinking and reached a combined place of best practice. Lots of thinking for other people, lots of tying together for me, lots of discussion in the future to make sure this gets ironed out.

Prior to that I built a new Google site to try and bring a big group of people across big geographical spaces together in one place to share best practice - more silo dissolving but also learning, sharing best practice and resilience building. So lots of rolling my sleeves up and getting my hands dirty. Somewhere in there was a discussion and some verbal thinking about internal comms mixed with sharing some fab articles I'd found online in various blogs and before that I sat and spent time with a particularly intelligent and fascinating ex-local government colleague in digital strategy who reassured me I was going in the right direction, joined some dots for me, but also reminded me heavily that we must not work in silos inside GDS either, and that the sheer breadth of skills and knowledge hidden inside peoples heads, not only in the wider civil service but also inside the heads of GDS bods is quite staggering.

There was some other stuff mixed in. Phone calls, emails, discussions and blog content stuff. All the usual stuff. But essentially, that was my 7 hours day today (I went home a wee bit early cos I've got a cold). That's a pretty normal day for me at GDS. It involved doing things slowly and quickly. It involved nailing big thorny issues swiftly, and leisurely dissecting others over coffee. It involved reflecting behaviours but also leading them. It involved some learning and some.... not teaching, never that, but some leading questions certainly.

Essentially, if you examined today on an outcome and output level I hope you'd pop it into the success box. But it's not that, oddly, that gives me an enormous sense of wellbeing. It's the fact that in a world where I thought I'd always be put in a box which had 'thinker' or 'do'er' written on them, I've found somewhere where it's actually okay to be both.

Of course you could argue I'm managing to be productive because of that very attitude which allows me to operate this way.

I'll leave you to have a think about that one.


  1. Puffles spotted a #GovAu friend in Australia saying "They are not silos, they are cylinders of excellence"

    1. I would argue that in this case we were paying for excellence 3 times when we only had need to pay for it once.

  2. Very funny Puffles. Hate to disagree with your #GovAu friend, the silo thinkers may think they are cylinders of excellence but its not what everyone else thinks of them.

  3. Actually, thinking about this... that is the whole problem in a nutshell, the do-ers versus the think-ers. Think then do. Or Do then Think. Thinkers don't know how to do it a lot of the time, Doers don't always, (or aren't allowed to) think a lot of the time because they just do as they are told? (exceptions always to the rule, that goes without saying really)

    Or like you say, do it properly and do both. Not a lot of point these days in silo thinking, and with the skills emerging and the new tech there is no need for silos to exist at all.
    Keep up the good work in your shiny world.