Today I have some good news and sad news. The good news is that I've been offered a unique chance to drive "Digital Government" Policy and Innovation for all of government, an agenda including open government, digital transformation, open and shared data, information policy, gov as a platform, public innovation, service innovation and policy innovation. For those who know me, these are a few of my favourite things :)
The sad news is I have to leave New Zealand Aotearoa to do it.
Over the past 18 months (has it only been that long!) I have been helping create a revolutionary new way of doing government. We have established a uniquely cross agency funded and governed all-of-government function, a "Service Innovation Lab", for collaborating on the design and development of better public services for New Zealand. By taking a "life journey" approach, government agencies have a reason to work together to improve the full experience of people rather than the usual (and natural) focus on a single product, service or portfolio. The Service Innovation Lab has a unique value in providing an independent place and way to explore design-led and evidence-based approaches to service innovation, in collaboration with service providers across public, private and non profit sectors. I have particularly enjoyed working with and exploring the role of the Citizen Advice Bureau in New Zealand as a critical and trusted service delivery organisation in New Zealand. I'm also particularly proud of both our work in exploring optimistic futures as a way to explore what is possible, rather than just iterate away from pain, and our exploration of better rules for government including legislation as code. The next stage for the Lab is very exciting! There is an ambitious work program to accelerate the delivery of more integrated and more proactive services, and the team is growing with new positions opening up for recruitment in the coming weeks!
Professionally, I get most excited about system transformation. Everything we do in the Lab is focused on systemic change, and it is doing a great job at having an impact on the NZ (and global) system around it, especially for it's size. But there is a lot more than needs to be done to scale both innovation and transformation. Personally, I have a vision for a better world where all people have what they need to thrive, and I feel a constant sense of urgency in transitioning our public institutions into the 21st century, so they can more effectively support society as the speed of change and complexity exponentially grows. This is going to take a rethink of how the entire system functions, especially at the policy and legislative levels.
With this in mind, I have been offered an extraordinary opportunity to explore and demonstrate systemic transformation of government. The New South Wales Department of Finance, Services and Innovation (NSW DFSI) has offered me the role of Executive Director for Digital Government, a role where I will be responsible for the all of government policy and innovation for ICT, digital, open, information, data, emerging tech and transformation, including a service innovation lab (DNA). This is a huge opportunity to drive systemic transformation as part of a visionary senior leadership team in Martin Hoffman (DFSI Secretary) and Greg Wells (GCIDO). I am excited to be joining NSW DFSI, and the many talented people working in the department, to make a real difference for the people of NSW. I hope our work and example will help raise the bar internationally for the digital transformation of governments for the benefit of the communities we serve.
One of the valuable lessons from New Zealand that I will be taking forward has been in how public services can (and should) engage constructively and respectfully with indigenous communities, not just because they are part of society or because it is the right thing to do, but to integrate important principles and context into the work of serving society. Our First Australians are the oldest cluster of cultures in the world, and we have a lot to learn from them in how we live and work today.
Finally, I want to thank the entire Service Innovation team, each of whom is utterly brilliant, as well as Darryl Carpenter and Karl McDiarmid for taking that first leap into the unknown to hire me and see what we could do. I think we did well :) I'm delighted that Nadia Webster will be leading the Lab team in the interim and has an extraordinary team to take it forward. I look forward to collaborating between New Zealand and New South Wales!