On Friday I tripped off to London to spend the day with alumni from the National Graduate Development Programme (NGDP) at the NGDP annual conference.
The title of the conference was all about serving our customers but to be honest the content was more about innovating, challenging assumptions and generally having the courage to tackle the status quo head on and deliver public services in a very different way.
We were also treated to some body language chat from guru Judi James, but more of that later.
As my colleagues did after govcamp I will detail my top takeaways below but before that I would like to make a personal comment. I’ve been finding work troubling lately. I’ve been finding it a little uninspiring and struggling to find the real energy that I used to feed off in my local government job. Therefore, I would like to thank Nick Jankel, the futuregov guys (who it was really nice to meet) and my fellow NGDPers for helping remind me of some of the amazing opportunities we still have even when things are really tough.
So, back to the conference:
Local Government Jargon gets a bad press; seven words I bet you didn’t think you’d be reading here.
My argument is that language is essentially about communicating meaning to people and if two people are having a conversation and use a bit of jargon, as long as they both understand it all is good.
Often, jargon is a means of communicating complex ideas in a simple way between two people who would rather say ‘commissioning’ than ‘the process by which we work out what services are needed in a local area, how much we can spend on them and which organisation is best placed to provide that service for the right price.’
I had an eventful day last week and for some reason it has taken me ten days to process it into actual thought. I was being trained as part of our council’s commitment to identifying waste and delivering efficiency within services.
The word ‘efficiency’ here is the important one. When most people us the word efficiency they usually mean doing the same thing with less inputs. This common understanding allows the Government to constantly claim large ‘efficiency’ savings without the public asking the question; ‘if services are £25 billion cheaper what are the Government not doing any more?’