Week notes 31.03.19

Autistica's values make sense for all of us

It was unusual week in that I went to three different conferences – a bit like buses after having had none for a while they all came along at once. It was a mix of old and new as two of them where charity sector focused and the third policing and digital public safety – a return to a sector I worked with a few years ago and was delighted to reconnect to.

Monday kicked off with the Institute of Fundraising digital conference. I was chairing the conference which meant I had to pay attention all day….no sneaky email checking for me. It was a great opportunity to connect to the thinking in other charities and left me with a few observations:

  • the challenges we are facing are not unique to our sector but our response can be – we should always be asking what our unique levers of change are
  • Some of those levers are in within organisation and so we need to always be looking out for the nuggets which will influence decision makersmbut also the things which will ignite the passion of the staff who already see the things we are talking about today as the way forward
  • There was a great theme about making the supporter the hero – I think its worth looking at that in terms of user experience as well as in terms of how we tell stories and create narrative around our causes and finding the story in what we are doing
  • So much of what was talked about was about creating a deeper sense of connection with our communities
  • There was a relentless focus on detail, data and ROI – we have to create an environment which makes it easy for everyone in the organisation to work like this

Tuesday was a Digital policing and safety conference hosted by the @UKDigtialPolicing team and which I have written about separately as I ended up writing up my speech in advance as it was a pre-dinner one and I was uncharacteristically nervous about it. Partly because I’ve not worked with that sector in a while and partly because you never want to be between 60 coppers and dinner unless you have to. Owing to an iPad malfunction 5 mins in (which may be terminal as I managed to dunk it in coffee) I ended up having to busk it anyway – but all was well.

On Wednesday I was on a panel at the AMRC Delving into Digital conference – which was fascinating – and brilliantly chaired by the brilliant Julie Dodd of Parkinsons UK. I only managed half of the the day but even in that there was a great presentation from @IndraJoshi about her work at NHS England/ NHS X on evidence for digital interventions and I was blown away by the patient – and more importantly – person led work that Autistica told us about in their discover network.

On the panel we talked about what constitutes ‘good’ tech and it was clear that there is a tension between who gets to define what good is and also how we actually prove the outcome one way or another. It reminded me how bias the health world is towards clinician rather than patient led solutions and also the huge (hopefully) creative tension that sits between health and tech – two very data driven worlds with very different views of what evidence is. It was also an all female panel with was fantastic and great to be part of.

I was left with a few overarching thoughts that linked the three events together for me:

  • What are our responsibilities for the negative consequences of technologies we may want to exploit? This straddles fundraising and research and is present in everything we do – it should be considered in design and it should be considered when we think about impact. What are unexpected as well as anticipated byproducts of what we do?
  • I am ever more of the view that digital is broken word. We put it on the front of ‘new stuff’ to make it easier to deal with but we really need to get better at talking about the way in which the world is changing not focusing on the tech. This is why digital strategies tend to come around in cycles – not because you need a new one – or have even have finished the last one – but because you need to refresh your framing and description of change to reflect the differences organisations see in their external context.
  • This is a slightly abstract one but increasingly I think that organisations need to be thinking in terms of creating a generational strategy that blurs internal and external boundaries as well as different demographics tribes.

I managed to finish the week with a short but really illuminating chat with Sinead about the work that Nesta are doing on collective intelligence. There is a lot of cross over with a couple of the themes I am exploring this year and so it was good to explore these from a different perspective.

Next week is much more office based and and so team; if you have been trying to find me I will be around…..if you have been glad I have been busy then brace yourselves!

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