I wanted to do a quick capture of my thoughts about #PDDigital15 on Thursday – it was such a brilliant event I wanted to reflect on what made it so good. Here are some thoughts:
- Collaborative leadership: The event wouldn’t have happened without the amazing Victoria Betton but she is very clear that she didn’t do it alone – @Anniecoops, Michael Seres and Shirley Ayres were just some of the people who put the event together – and she also had great support from her team. Victoria deserves a special credit because she does something extra – she uses her convening power thoughtfully and generously and is always willing to pitching in with practical support where she can
- The right people were there: This felt like a gathering of community in waiting – only needing a catalyst to come together – so many people who followed each other on twitter or knew of each others work – it was lovely to see the connections being made. I met so many brilliant people with fascinating projects – with a real breadth of knowledge and interests.
- Unconference format: I am RUINED for any kind of formal agenda approach. Why on earth you would gather a hundred creative innovators and constrain them within a traditional event structure is beyond me. I do however think the blended format with some lightening talks and curated content alongside open space opportunities really worked at PDdigital
- Purpose: The event was planned with a ‘what next’ in mind – the seed fund, the white paper and the ongoing commitment to the conversation – it makes a big difference when I compare it to something like localgovcamp which is great but sometimes likes a sense of building something bigger than just the event
- The right topic at the right time: The question of how to unlock innovation and also people powered solutions has never been more relevant – and there is now a community of people who wants to make sure it happens
- The system may be listening: While a lot of what we discussed was about disruptive innovation on the outside there are signs that the system is ready to be disrupted. Not just Tim Kelsey’s introductory words about robots and AI but also the persistent and thoughtful presence of other people from within the system
- Gifts! The gift table was a brilliant – idea – people brought and went away with gifts which added to the sense of community at the event. I am sorry not to have bagged some henderson relish but I salute the person who brought the beautiful yarn all ready to be woven into a tapestry. This kind of playfulness is so value – as Emma Bearman speaks about so well.
- Leeds: I think there is something special about Leeds and its community – There is an openness and rugged practicality to digital innovation which makes these kind of conversations extra useful. I hesitated before I wrote this as there are loads of other great places out there but I always enjoy being in Leeds. I think I have Emma to thank for this.
Reading back on this its like a template for how to curate a brilliant civic innovation event – that explains why it was such a privilege to be part of it. It felt exciting and it felt like the start of something – and the best bit of that for me was the sense of community, the warmth and the humanity which I think was a huge part of the day.
So – now to work – and thinking about where I may be able to make a contribution to the what next question. I think there was a lot in the day about how you connect, scale and amplify good ideas. I think this is where my head is (more on this in my stuff on digital civic space) and I am interested in what is needed in the system or environment to make this happen – I will be thinking more about this.
Always interested in comments and feedback – thank you.
PS I think there may be another reflection in here somewhere about the fact that this is one of the first things I have done since changing roles – I think I am personally more open to possibilities at the moment and seeing things from an different perspective – so maybe I was the right person at the right time as well….