Governments traditionally don’t share information and learnings and they are often slow to evolve. OneTeamGov is an innovative community that spans the globe, bringing together individuals who are committed to radically reforming government services and learning from each other. OneTeamGov are an entirely volunteer-run network of individuals who continue to share ideas, project learnings, new ways of working, and continue to push government to be better for all.
What the problem is:
Being a civil servant in central and local government can be challenging. Civil servants not only have to deal with changing political landscapes but also limited resources, bureaucratic processes, and opposite perspectives. In addition, government is held to a high degree of accountability. The complexity and dimensions of for instance sustainability or pandemics, require cross-domain decisions and actions from traditionally non-collaborative parts of government. These issues combine to result in slow-moving change and outdated and/or out of touch policies, programs and services.
However, government across the globe often share the same battles. Our societies are similar, our public servants have similar educational backgrounds and experiences, and often our bureaucratic processes are similar as well.
Despite our similarities, we are not in the habit of sharing information, ideas, or learnings on what we’ve done more spontaneously.
Governments are often notorious for not only not sharing information between departments at the same level, but also across departments in their own country. Internally, we are also known for keeping policy separate from design and delivery.
What the innovation is:
This is where OneTeamGov comes in. With the need to share ideas across policy, digital, and service delivery continually increasing and the influx of individuals into the public sector wanting to learn and be innovative, a community was needed to foster the connections between these like-minded individuals.
A place was needed where anyone, regardless of their profession, discipline or background, could come to talk about government:
- giving better advice
- offering better services, or
- being a better place to work.
At the heart of it, OneTeamGov are a community united and guided by a set of principles. Together, OneTeamGov are working to create a movement of reform through practical action.
Their community is made up of people who are passionate about public sector reform (they deliberately want this to be wider than just government), with the emphasis on improving the services they offer to citizens and how they work. They believe the public sector can be brilliant, and are committed to making it so.
The 7 principles:
- Work in the open and positively: As a community; everything we do will be documented and made to share. Where conversations happen that can’t be shared, the wider learning still will be.
- Take practical action: Although talking is vital, they will be defined more by actions than the things they say. They will create change by taking small, measured steps every day.
- Experiment and iterate: There is no one way to ‘do’ reform. They will experiment with design, and put user-focused service design thinking into everything they do, learning from and with each other. They will test, iterate and reflect.
- Be diverse and inclusive: The approach to inclusiveness and diversity is driven by a simple desire to better represent the citizens served. They’ll put effort into making that so, by balancing events, making sure teams are reflective of society at large and by making sure they have a range of citizen and team voices in the room with them.
- Care deeply about citizens: Work for users and other citizens affected by your work; everything done will be guided by impact.
- Work across borders: OneTeamGov believe that diverse views make outcomes and services better. They will be characterised by their work to break down boundaries between groups. This means OneTeamGov will work across: professions, departments, sectors and borders
- Embrace technology: They are passionate about public sector reform for the internet age. OneTeamGov will be a technology-enabled community, using online tools to collaborate, network and share.
How they do things: The OneTeamGov community connect, network, learn, and share methods and information through running events, seminars, podcasts, training, workshops, and informal meetups. What started off as unconferences in London has spread through to the rest of the UK, Canada, Finland, Sweden, Australia, New Zealand, Norway, Scotland, Wales and more.
Who benefits: One Team Gov is providing the structure for engaged public servants to talk about and explore the things that are most important to them.
“Being part of the One Team Gov network has helped me take part in discussions that have developed my thinking on the use of data and technology to support policy formulation and operational delivery.”
“More than anything, OneTeamGov recognises that alone each of us cannot change ingrained power structures, incentives or systems — but that together we can be the very change we wish to see, and make government better.”
They want to grow the community, welcome those who think differently, share ideas, methodologies, and learnings; challenge the status-quo, bring people together, and create spaces for innovation to occur.
What Makes Your Project Innovative?
What makes OneTeamGov innovative is that it:
- Is principles based: allowing the community the freedom to make their OneTeamGov network work in a way that suits them
- Is global: connecting individuals working on resolving similar issues across borders allows for in-depth and effective conversations on what works and what doesn’t
- Transcends government: working in the open and always open to all people being part of the OneTeamGov community from the general public to non-government organisations, private sector, and beyond
- Trandscends domains: Unlike a community of practice, brings together service delivery, policy, design, data, and research teams to focus on similar issues
- Is grassroots: It is everyday public servants and passionate people, without titles, who driving this community
- Focused on microactions: we go beyond theory and ideas to focus on the practical microactions we all can individually take to work towards better outcomes for our citizens.
What is the current status of your innovation?
-Held an event for World Suicide Prevention Day: Bringing together 14 individuals working in suicide prevention, providing attendees an overarching, broad overview of the field of suicide prevention with diversity of perspectives
-Held our second unconference on user research: Topics included stakeholder buy-in, methods and participant recruitment, getting started in research, team working, sharing findings, and wellbeing.
-Upskilled leaders in collective leadership: Delivering 21 events to 450 Directors across government on topics such as leading through change and uncertainty, how to be yourself and thrive in a high-risk, uncertain world; leading across boundaries, COVID-19, climate change, and power, privilege, and difference.
-Held workshops on Future Leadership
-Held OneGreenGov across the globe
-Continued to build our community through lean-coffee events across the globe with events happening every month
- Planned unconference 2020 Nordic was canceled due to COVID
Collaborations & Partnerships
-Citizens, non-government organisations, charities and government employees across the globe through our lean coffee events
-National Leadership Council to deliver leadership training to over 450 directors in the UK
-Apolitical to deliver workshops on network-building
-Whereby as a partner for video conferencing
-SoCentral as a partner with innovation hubs in Norway
-OneTeamGov supports new education program for process leadership in complex systems change (NTNU in Norway)
Users, Stakeholders & Beneficiaries
One Team Gov is providing the structure for engaged public servants to talk about and explore the things that are most important to them. The benefit is an improved workplace culture.
By offering a open platform for sharing knowledge, tools and practices we give public servants the opportunity to develop a open and critical mindset towards developing better services for the citizens.
Citizens are beneficiaries of better collaboration to create public services.
Results, Outcomes & Impacts
One of the key principles is working in the open and document what we do. In the UK, a blog for anyone in the global community interested in writing for it, can share practical experiences, inspiration and knowledge. Some countries have blogs in local languages to increase local engagement. Please read a variety of posts on the UK blog website: https://medium.com/oneteamgov
They’ve grown the Twitter account to over 11k followers, spreading a call for #microactions, a popular hashtag.
OneTeamGov is a growthmindset and challenges status quo. We spread methods like lean coffee and unconferences to practice openness.
OneTeamGov has an active community on Slack for questions, support, contact and knowledge sharing based on need; COVID-knowledge exchange, service design, sustainability gathering a +3500 members worldwide
Global events: The One Team Gov Suicide Prevention event, September 2020, attracted over 900 sign ups. In feedback, 87% rated the event as excellent or very good.
Challenges and Failures
It can, in some countries, be challenging to get acknowledgement from formal government bodies, due to "competitive" mandates or roles to create innovation and change themselves. Also, without ownership, the organic growth doesnt provide a centralised point of contact.
Its greatest strength, its non-hierarchical, decentralized nature, has also led to inconsistency of energy and resources. As leaders burnout, whole communities can go dormant. It is also not easy to know where to go to get information when there is no clear leader. For example, the UK which started this movement has become very quiet in the last year as key people step back to put their energy elsewhere.
Gathering donations or financial support for the use of digital tools on a global basis is tricky and it is uncertain how a stable predictable baseline can be upheld for the community if max limits of users for free use are reached.
Conditions for Success
Because it is so grassroots, leadership energy is very important for the success of this movement. Over it’s short history the energy has risen and fallen based on the leadership of champions. The key though is anyone can be a leader, no position or title is required, just passion and energy.
But more powerful than any one person’s leadership is the idea of an open community to help people working in government share ideas and collaborate across boundaries. Due to the power of this idea, the community has spread and as one person steps back, another person steps forward to help the movement continue to move forward.
Technology infrastructure has become key in helping this movement spread. This has happened in three key ways:
- Blogposts: like medium have made it real easy for stories to be captured and shared
- Twitter: allowed for this content, and also related events to spread through the networks that exist on twitter
- Slack:The platform of choice for community building
Replication is one of the greatest strengths of this movement. Because of the universal nature of the problem and the simplicity of the response, any country can quickly and easily create their own OneTeamGov chapter. This is how the movement grows. It started in one country (the UK) and has since spawned chapters in multiple countries around the world. The central driver of this application is OneTeamGov Norway which is a member of the community since 2018.
In the next year there will be a big push for a global unconference which they hope will lead to expansion of this movement to countries on every continent and the further development of an online space for much deeper global collaboration and sharing.
The principles are clear and easily recognisable to people all over the world championing open government movement. Small adjustments and contributions we all can do, lowers the bar for everyone to take part in change, and sculptures a cultural behavior as part of a community.
1) Regular rituals are key to maintaining and growing a community. In their case the development of weekly/monthly breakfast meetups has been key in helping maintain and deepen the community while at the same time creating an easy entry point for new people to join.
2) A decentralized system leads to incredible adaptability as the community is flexible to adjust and fit any situation it is in but can also lead to inconsistency as energy ebbs and flows. It can also lead to a non-clear mandate which can cause people to disengage if they do not see clear tangible outcomes.
3) Creating and keeping a community across several communities leads to events and knowledge sharing over a variety of topics and domains, and can be both alienating and refreshing depending on the audience. The balance of repeating the core values and goals with new insights and broad perspectives, is key to maintaining the people who get involved.
They mobilised and coordinated this application from three continents and five countries in 10 days :)
Bani Singh - OneTeamGov Australia
Pia Virmalainen Jøsendal - OneTeamGov, initiator in Norway
Kathra Saba - OneTeamGov, Norway
Derek Alton - OneTeamGov, Canada
Kit Collingwood - OneTeamGov UK and founder of OneTeamGov
Nour Sidawi - OneTeamGov UK
Sam Villis - OneTeamGov UK
Anna Løfgren - OneTeamGov Sweden
All documentation is online:
Twitter: #MyOneTeamGov #microactions
- Implementation - making the innovation happen
3 September 2021