The chances of creating a perfect environment for changing an old, legacy-driven organisation –and holding that scenario steady in an ever-changing, event-driven world –are zero. One of the biggest mistakes we have seen new digital institutions make is waiting until they can see the very bottom of the pool before diving in from the highest board. Taking a shallow dive into murkier waters is the wiser way to go. Digital teams should feel comfortable (or at least, get used to feeling uncomfortable) with working things out as they go along. Win arguments as they arise. There is no perfect end point for a digital organisation to aspire to. In the UK government, the digital team tried to win the most important arguments that were in front of it at the time. At many times, the strategic question confronting us was very simple. Mat Wall, a GDS technical architect, summed it up: ‘What can we fix to help our teams ship better products this Friday than last week?’ Having your strategic priorities led by what is blocking delivery and meeting user needs right now (rather than some unspecified point in the future) is a good way to maintain focus. This week’s delivery niggles are a valuable source of suggestions for where to invest the efforts of the bureaucratic hackers that can fix them.
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