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Digital Darwinism and the Wisdom of Crowds

Government is in a state of Digital Darwinism, the phenomenon of technology and society are evolving faster than an organisation, especially a government, can adapt. The time has passed where government can sit on the fence. They no longer can stay using both outdated technology and processes. Change is required, ambitious change, significant in terms of economic, social and human impact. We have passed the point of evolutionary change, governments need to be revolutionary in that change.

This is about making rapid progress by learning and improving on the fly. Letting new services grow alongside the old, until they are proven and adopted. The older broken systems, processes, and organisations can't be allowed to survive. They need to either adapt or die. These technologies, processes and practices are prehistoric, like the dinosaurs should have gone extinct, allowing new ones to emerge and take their place.

Governments no longer can stifle change, they need to let this new digital organisation and culture grow successfully within. Private sector has seen much change over recent years. New disruptive organisations have grown, surpassed and replaced old. Organisations like many governments and public sector agencies around the world need to drive their own transformation, a digital transformation.

Australia and UK Make Change

Both the Australian and UK government are trying to make this change by the creation of the Government Digital Service in the UK and Digital Transformation Office (DTO) in Australia. These are not just to continue with the past attempts but to re-invent and make revolutionary change. Fundamentally redesign the digital government for the future.

This type of change is disruptive to both government and the public sector. Resistance will be strong. That resistance has had many years of practice, shutting down new innovative ideas.

All because its not the way they have done it in the past. But taking a different perspective and outside blood will hopefully by past the resistance. Paul Shetler, CEO of the DTO, issued a challenge on his blog. He announced “We think Australia can be the best in the world at digital government. We’re working with government agencies to transform services. But we can’t do it alone. We’re looking for the best and brightest digital talent to join us. We’re looking for people who want to work on stuff that matters. Simpler, clearer, faster and more humane public services. People who live and breathe digital service delivery. People with a relentless focus on user needs.” Finishing with “If you want to do extraordinary things and make a difference: join us!”

Much of the transition will be disruptive to the way things have been working in the past. Managerial, administrative and clerical roles and organisational change will go beyond any recognition of the past, potentially disappearing. Basically, government will need to pass through the pain that organisations have been faced with for some time.

We all know it needs to be done, but it cannot be done just within government. The citizens need to come along on the journey, become part of the solutions. As without them, we will end up back where we started.

Citizen Need

What is created will need to be based on the need of the citizen and not what the government of the day think that the citizen needs. This will be crucial in avoiding the decades of waste from the past. We need vision, direction, and involvement. The governments of the UK and Australia may believe they are leading the way but the citizen is driving the demand.

Government only need to be able to listen and hear what is being said. No one person, organisation have all the answer. As stated in the book by James Surowiecki, The Wisdom of Crowds, “Why the many are smarter than the few and how collective wisdom shapes Business, Economies, Societies and Nations.”

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