Government Digital Service Podcast #12: The International Design in Government community

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Laura Stevens:

Hello, and welcome to the Government Digital Service podcast. My name is Laura Stevens and I’m a writer here at GDS. Today we’re going to be speaking about the work of the International Design in Government community. This community has grown rapidly since its inception 2 years ago, and now has 1,500 members from 66 countries and 6 continents.

The group brings together designers and design minded people working anywhere in the world to share best practice, host events and tackle common obstacles. And this summer, they held their first international event in the USA and Scotland.

So let's hear from 2 people directly involved in the community, Kara Kane and Martin Jordan. So please can you introduce yourself and tell me about your role here at GDS.

Kara Kane:

Hi, I’m Kara Kane. I’m the Community Lead for User-Centred Design at GDS. So I work on growing user-centered design capability and as well, understanding and awareness of user-centered design across UK government. And I also manage the International Design in Government community.

Laura Stevens:

So you’re quite busy.

Kara Kane:

Yes.

Laura Stevens

And Martin?

Martin Jordan:

Yeah. I’m Martin Jordan, Head of Service Design here at GDS. And this means shaping what good service design looks like across government. It means helping government increase its service design capability through recruiting, training and as well, mentoring. And then yeah, building a strong service design community across government and well now as well, internationally.

Laura Stevens:

And could you describe the community to me for somebody who has never heard about it before?

Kara Kane:

So the community is just a group of people that are all working on similar things in government. So we have a shared purpose around making better government services. And it’s just, as you said in the intro, it’s extremely diverse and extremely international so it’s grown really quickly and as we’ve started kind of running the community in different ways, so we have online channels, we do monthly calls, we’ve now started doing events. So doing, through doing these different formats, we’ve been able to help people meet each other and helping people meet each other face-to-face.

Laura Stevens:

Yeah.

Kara Kane:

Which then helps the online stuff and helps that make it easier because people are more willing to reach out to someone if they’ve met them in person.

Laura Stevens:

And you mention you’ve got countries from all the continents apart from Antartica.

Kara Kane:

Yes.

Martin Jordan:

Yeah. I think there are no designers there.

Laura Stevens:

Yeah. I don’t think that’s going to happen anytime soon.

Ok so, I thought to show how diverse the community is as we mentioned earlier, I’d ask you a few questions about some of the different 66 countries you’ve got involved.

Martin Jordan:

Oh gosh.

Laura Stevens:

So do you know who your most northerly member is?

Kara Kane:

Think it might be Iceland…?

Martin Jordan:

Oh yeah, probably.

Kara Kane:

We might have people in Reykjavik…?

Laura Stevens:

Kara, you are correct.

Kara Kane:

Yes!

Martin Jordan:

I thought of Helsinki but yes, yeah, that makes more sense, yeah.

Laura Stevens:

And then we, who is your most southerly member?

Martin Jordan:

So it’s, it’s probably New Zealand. Because there are people, there are people in Wellington.

Laura Stevens:

Yes! Martin, you got that right.

Don’t doubt your guess.

And then you have, out of the members, you have both the largest country in the world by area and the second smallest, do you know what those 2 countries are?

Martin Jordan:

So one might be Russia. And the second one, I have no idea.

Laura Stevens:

OK, you got Russia, so Kara, can you do the second, the second smallest country in the world by area?

Kara Kane:

It might be Monaco..?

Laura Stevens:

Yes! Well done.

So, and then the final one, just to showcase this diverse group, you have a country that’s a member, that is made up of more than 200 islands.

Kara Kane:

I was ready for this one. I did some pre-work. So I know that this is Palau.

Laura Stevens:

Well done! So this shows how, even amongst these diverse groups, there’s lots of shared traits with design in government.

Was there a particular catalyst for this International Design in Government group? How did it start?

Martin Jordan:

So our former boss Lou Downe, at that time Director for Design, and the UK government, they like to blog. And they wrote a blog post I think in February 2017. And they referenced the D-5 countries.

Laura Stevens:

Could you explain the D-5?

Martin Jordan:

Yeah. So the D-5 countries were kind of like very digital countries that came together I think around 2011 or so. That included the UK, Estonia, Israel, New Zealand and South Korea. And there’s an ongoing conversation and a regular monthly call around design around government. And there was a special edition on design.

Laura Stevens:

Yeah.

Martin Jordan:

That we did do in early 2017. And Lou basically wrote a blog post and said like, well we’re having this great community of designers in the UK government, but there’s probably like more stuff to do as well on a global scale, because we very likely have common issues.

We all kind of like, design services that are somewhat similar. Policies might be different, laws might be different but overall, there are a lot of like, similarities. So we might be able to like, scale co-authored patterns, we might be looking at like, how to embed user-centred culture in government.

Kara Kane:

Yes.

Martin Jordan:

All of those things. So they wrote a blog post and then we were like, ‘ok, what does it actually mean?’.

Kara Kane:

We had a form at the end of the blog post for people to let us know if they were interested in joining whatever this thing would be.

Laura Stevens:

Yeah.

Kara Kane:

So I went away and took that list of people, and kind of started developing the community. So we just invited all of those people to a Google group and then went from there.

Laura Stevens:

And it grew really rapidly. Like I’ve got here in the first 10 months, it grew to 250 people from 37 countries. What sort of like challenges did you face when you were growing it at that sort of scale quickly?

Kara Kane:

I think with any community, starting it is, is just difficult to start kind of forming relationships and to start getting the conversation going. So as a Community Manager, it was really about trying to get to know people in the community, trying to start introducing people, trying to just, like I would just have calls with people to find out what they’re working on to get to know them a little bit.

And then we started running these monthly calls, which were a way to, to kind of start sharing work in a different way. But again that took a while for the focus to turn away from GDS in to, to be a focus on sharing internationally. So not just us kind of telling, but us learning as well from, from other people.

Laura Stevens:

And do you find there are a lot of shared things? ‘Cause obvio--, the countries we mentioned earlier, they’ve got hugely different geographies, populations, all different. But are you finding there’s, they are these shared obstacles that designers face in government and what, what would some of them be?

Martin Jordan:

So in some places, there might not be a designer there at all but like a design minded person who’s doing it in some way.

Laura Stevens:

Yeah.

Martin Jordan:

So they ask like, how do you, how do you make the first business case for the first designer, and then we might be able to like, share like some of, some of the arguments and also there are a lot of, a lot of good stories out there so we try to like, give them good examples that they can kind of like, go to their, their seniors and like, advocate with these stories.

Laura Stevens:

Yeah.

Martin Jordan:

That is quite, quite, quite, quite powerful.

Kara Kane:

Then following on from that, if you think about things like immigration, like that runs across…

Laura Stevens:

Yeah.

Kara Kane:

...every, everywhere. So there’s a lot that we can, can learn from the similarities and differences of how, of how we run services related to immigration or employment or benefits.

Laura Stevens:

And is it quite a lot of physical meetups or is it more sort of interaction online? You mentioned earlier there’s Google groups, Slack. So how does that, how do you all communicate with each other in the community?

Kara Kane:

When it first started it was all online.

Laura Stevens:

Uh huh.

Kara Kane:

And because it’s an international community and, from the beginning it was really widespread in terms of representation geographically, it was hard to kind of think about you know what’s, what’s something we could do to get people to meet face to face. And I think the monthly calls were a way to do that. Because we were using Zoom, so it was the first way to like, show my face…

Laura Stevens:

Yeah.

Kara Kane:

...to the community. And to, for Martin and Lou, when we were all on these calls, and meeting people. But then from there, I think, when I first joined GDS, Martin always wanted to do a conference.

So we were always looking for a reason to run a conference. And then the international community seemed like that was the next natural step, was to get people together face to face.

Laura Stevens:

So yeah. You had your first official conference in London, 2018. Can you talk a bit about that and how you went about getting everybody here from all these different countries, who was able to attend with that?

Martin Jordan:

Yeah. So we had a tiny budget to actually make this happen. We didn’t spend much, much money on that. And we kind of relied on kind of, everyone paying for their own flight tickets…

Kara Kane:

So when we, when we decided to run an international conference, we really wanted to involve the community in what it would look like. So we started sending surveys and emails out to the community to say, ‘what do you want this to be? Do you want to even come? What kind of format do you want it to be? Where should it be? What time of the year?’ So we kind of used the community to figure out what it should look like.

And then from there, started to shape the agenda.

Laura Stevens:

What was the atmosphere like on the day?

Kara Kane:

It was exciting.

Martin Jordan:

I think people were like, super excited to see each other.

Laura Stevens:

Yeah,

Martin Jordan:

Because apart from like, interacting via Slack and as well as seeing each other in the monthly calls, people started following each other on Twitter, and there was quite an exchange there.

As well, some people met at other international conferences. So whenever there was kind of a design or service design conference, they were like, like almost like, you how they were like literally like asking like, ‘who else is there?’ I was in Helsinki at some point in winter when it was freezing and I was like, ‘Hey, Finnish government folks, shall we meet for tea?’ and they were like, ‘yeah!’.

So like, you were, yeah. I think it was a really really great atmosphere and for, for the conference, for the 2 days, we tried to have representatives from all continents.

So we tried to like, yeah, have a, have a good representation of of of regions. And then we had workshops on the second day. And for those workshops we really basically asked everyone in the UK government who can kind of like, host a workshop, run a workshop.

Laura Stevens:

What came out of that in terms of saying that people were more connected and did any like working groups come out of it?

Martin Jordan:

So the Finns, the folks in (the) Finnish government, started kind of like, a local community that gets together every, every month. And literally today, the Finns, as well the Estonians, run a joint workshop meetup together. So we actually started to, regionally we started connecting, connecting people with each other.

Laura Stevens:

Yeah.

Martin Jordan:

They’re now doing things, which is amazing to see. Yeah.

Kara Kane:

I think another thing that came out of it is, so at the very end of the conference, we kind of asked people ‘do you want this to happen again?’, ‘do you want there to be another conference?’.

Laura Stevens:

Yeah.

Kara Kane:

And people were like, ‘yeah!’. And there’s people, in the community, who are willing to kind of, take on the responsibility to do something. So that was really, really exciting.

But I think, yeah the other thing was just, we’ve had people tell us that they know feel more confident to reach out to people. Like they’ve met people face to face, or at least they saw them at the conference, so now they feel like they can reach out to them.

People are using tools and methods that they learned in some of the workshops. They’re continuing to, to work on the things, if they, if they presented at the, at the conference, they’re continuing to work on those, on those things that they were presenting about. Whether it was a workshop format or a kind of, yeah, a different way of thinking. So that’s really exciting.

Martin Jordan:

Some countries even like, started translating some of the tools they’re using into English to make it more accessible for other community members, which is amazing to see.

Laura Stevens:

What, I was also going to ask about that. Because obviously running an international community, you have the time zones and the language, do you, how do you get round those things?

Martin Jordan:

Yeah.

Kara Kane:

Time zones are really difficult for the monthly calls. In the very beginning, we tried to run, I don’t know why I thought this was a good idea but I was like, we’ll just do the call twice and obviously that did not work. And obviously that’s a ton of work.

So what we started was just to, just to move the times around.

Laura Stevens:

Yeah.

Kara Kane:

So it’s not like always run a call at the same time. We’re always trying to, to kind of, engage with different people. So we’ll run calls after work, later in the evening so that the Australians and the Kiwis can join.

Martin Jordan:

But not too early in the morning.

Kara Kane:

Yeah, not too early in the morning. Happy to, happy to do things after work but not before (laughter from everyone).

Laura Stevens:

And the languages, are all the calls run in English?

Kara Kane and Martin Jordan (same time):

Yeah.

Kara Kane:

We haven’t, we haven’t encountered any issues with, with language. But I think you know, going forward we’re trying to be as, as inclusive as we can. We’re trying to reach as many kind of countries working in this space as we can. So that might be something that we have to think about in the future.

Martin Jordan:

Yeah we were really impressed to hear recently that at a conference in Taiwan, a government conference, they had subtitles in 12 different languages to reflect like, all the people attending. And we still have no idea how, how to make that work but this kind of like, the level of ambition.

So at the most recent conference in Edinburgh, there was live subtitling in English and we’re looking into like, technologies to make it as inclusive as possible.

Laura Stevens:

And that leads me nicely on. Because you mentioned earlier that this, the last event in 2018, led directly to the 2019 events. And this is the first time that the events have gone global. So could you talk through those, what’s happened so far this year?

Kara Kane:

The first thing that we did this year was collaborate with Code for America. Code for America is a non-profit in the United States and they work on reforming government nationally. So they work really closely with state and local level government. They do really amazing work, and they run a summit, they run a yearly summit called ‘Code for America Summit’. And our idea was to bring the international community to the summit. So what we did was run a one-day international design in government day…

Laura Stevens:

Yeah.

Kara Kane:

...before the Code for America Summit. So that was in Oakland in May of this year. And yeah, it was a real collaboration between between our 2 organisations. And to really bring the community to the US and reach people there that we’re not reaching, you’d think that the US would have a really strong design in government community, but they don’t yet. It’s still kind of nascent and forming. So it was really exciting to kind of, try and get all of those people in the room. Which they found really really valuable just to meet people like them, working on the same types of problems and challenges.

Laura Stevens:

Is that because of like, the vast geography of America or is, and the federal...or is that?

Martin Jordan:

The latter as well.

Laura Stevens:

Yeah.

Martin Jordan:

Yeah, totally. Totally.

And of course again like, there’s a lot of stuff that they can share. And then they can share kind of like, their recipes to how to solve a certain thing with other people.

Laura Stevens:

Well, and that sharing tool--like I noticed New Zealand picked up the GOV.UK Design System and...

Martin Jordan:

Yes.

This was amazing to see. Yeah, they kind of like took that and kind of made it theirs. Like restyling it, taking a few things in and out.

Laura Stevens:

And was that facilitated by the community?

Martin Jordan:

Well to some degree. So we have those monthly calls with themes, and the most popular ones were around design systems. So we actually had to, to repeat this theme so we had it in 2018 and did it in 2019 again because there’s so much interest.

And I think this was by far the most popular call we had, with more than 100 people joining.

Laura Stevens:

Oh wow. Ok so...

Martin Jordan:

And partially it was like a group of people in one room like, counting as 1 right.

Laura Stevens:

Oh ok.

Kara Kane:

Yeah. It was our biggest call ever. I was just completely shocked to see over a 100 people online joining us on Zoom.

Laura Stevens:

Is it quite tricky to manage that as sort of, or does, is everyone quite respectful when somebody’s talking, everyone else will be muted. Is that, how is that to manage?

Kara Kane:

Yeah. We have to set some, some ground, ground rules at the beginning to say, ‘everyone please go on mute’. And like yeah, there’s kind of there’s rules around, around how to ask questions. So there’s a chat function which is really easy to use, so you can write your question in the chat.

And then if you feel comfortable enough to go off mute and ask your question during the time for questions, then you can do that. Or I just read through the questions and try and help facilitate, facilitate that.

Martin Jordan:

And there’s always recordings as well. So people can go back. So when they join the community later, they’re able to like, watch these previous calls or recordings of those, and once in a while, when people like, raise a question on Slack or on the mailing list, we’re like look, this was already covered, like have a look and they’re so thankful to like, find these resources.

Laura Stevens:

And if we can go back to the America, the conference in America. Was the community involved with organising that like it was with the one in London, or was that is that a slightly different way it was organised?

Martin Jordan:

Yeah.

Kara Kane:

We reached out to some of the North American community members.

Laura Stevens:

And who would they be?

Kara Kane:

So we had people at Nava [Nava Public Benefit Corporation] in the United States, we had people at the Canadian Digital Service, people at the United States Digital Service, the USDS.

Martin Jordan:

Veteran Services.

Kara Kane:

So we kind of came up with 3 different kind of themes, which were around getting leadership buy-in for user-centered design, designing services for and with everyone and building design capacity and capability.

Martin Jordan:

This was kind of like, although it was called International Design in government day, it was more kind of like, North American design in government.

Laura Stevens:

Yeah. Yeah, yeah. With that regionalised context?

Martin Jordan:

Yeah. Yeah, yeah, yeah.

Laura Stevens:

And how did it feel on the day? Did it feel similar to the one you felt, you did in London, or was it different?

Martin Jordan:

I mean I was so impressed.

Kara Kane:

It was a lot of people that we hadn’t met before from the community, or people that were new to the community. It was people that maybe hadn’t all been in the same room before.

Laura Stevens and Martin Jordan (same time):

Yeah.

Kara Kane:

As in designers working in government kind of talking about things and realising, ‘oh my gosh, I’m not the only person...’

Laura Stevens:

Yeah.

Kara Kane:

...that has these really frustrating things’. Or that has you know, learning about a success of someone like you just feel, you could feel how proud people were. And that was amazing.

Laura Stevens:

And do you think that sort of, like talking, you were talking there about that sort of emotional support that the community provides, and that sense of ‘oh no, you’re not alone’. And obviously there’s very practical outcomes like you can use the same user research or you can use parts of the design system, but do you think that emotional support is quite a big part of why people get involved in the community?

Martin Jordan:

Absolutely. This is..

Kara Kane:

Yeah. Definitely.

Martin Jordan:

This is, such a, such a strong, strong point. And yeah, I think, I think we see this as well in the Slack conversations. Like people asking questions and getting then a response from from somewhere, from another part of the world, is, is really reassuring.

Laura Stevens:

And we should talk about your second conference as well in Scotland this year. So what happened there?

Kara Kane:

So when I mentioned at the conference in London, when we had the hands up, well one of the hands was Anna Henderson, who is a Service Designer in Scottish government, in the Office of the Chief Designer. So Anna and her team got in touch with us and said, ‘hey, like we’re really serious, like we really want to do this, like we’re going to get budget, like everyone is, everyone is excited’. They had you know, from their team level up to their minister, ministerial level, was really excited about running an international conference.

So Martin and I were like, amazing, let’s do this!

Laura Stevens:

Great!

Kara Kane:

Yeah. Why wouldn’t we do this?

So this was the first time that we were kind of running an event, or this is the first time that we were kind of handing over the responsibility of running a conference to someone else.

Laura Stevens:

So you didn’t do the agenda or…?

Kara Kane:

So we really kind of stepped back. And our role was to kind of, advise and share what we had learned from running the conference in London.

Kara Kane:

Yeah. So it was really shaped around the values of Scottish government, which is a lot about inclusion and participation. So the theme of the conference was participation involving citizens in the design of government and public services. And they had really amazing talks from the community, they had things on inclusive recruitment, they had things on doing international research, they had things on working with policy colleagues, and there was a fantastic keynote by Dr. Sally Witcher, who’s the Chief Executive of Inclusion Scotland.

And I think the whole atmosphere of the conference as well was really also encompassing their values. So as Martin said, they had captioning for all of the keynotes and all of the breakouts. So every single room that you went into, there was live captioning available to you. And for all of the keynotes on the main stage, we also had British Sign Language interpreters.

Laura Stevens:

And is this something you’d want to carry forward now having seen it done in action?

Kara Kane:

Yeah, I think as Martin said, with trying to figure out like, how can we use technology, and these kind of new technologies that are available, around live transcription and live translation. Like how can we use those better because that’s just, that would be just so amazing to be able to help people feel more involved if they can understand the content better.

Laura Stevens:

And we can also look forward as well to the, your final is, your final international event of the year.

Kara Kane:

And biggest.

Laura Stevens:

And biggest in Rotterdam. And so yeah, can, Martin, can you tell me a bit about that?

Martin Jordan:

Yeah, yeah. So yeah, as I said it will be the biggest conference we’ve had so far. So the Dutch government is leading on that. So the, my Dutch is really bad but the Gebruiker Centraal community, so which means like users first.

Laura Stevens:

Yes.

Martin Jordan:

Which is a community in the Dutch government that is around I think, for a few years now. So they had local events and as well conferences there for a while. And now they’re kind of like, opening up and embracing and welcoming all the international visitors. So they’re aiming although, we’re aiming for like 800 people...

Laura Stevens:

Wow.

Martin Jordan:

...that will come together for like a full three days in Rotterdam in like mid-November this year, so 18th until 20th. And there will be workshops again, because we try to like not only in all of the conferences, not only have people talking at you, but you can actually participate and interact with people. So there’s always a lot of time for like, networking and workshopping things.

At the same time as well, kind of like open, other open formats, panel discussions. So all of that is going to happen. And again, there’s been like call for participations, we have been creating a kind of like, advisory board, again an international advisory board. Where people from different continents kind of like help shape as well, the content.

We’re still on an ongoing basis like asking for more content, because there will be so many people so we need a lot of content as well.

Laura Stevens:

So you’re doing a call out now live to…

Martin Jordan:

Yes!

Laura Stevens:

So how if you, how do you put something forward, how do I go to this conference?

Martin Jordan:

Yeah, yeah, yeah. So you can go to ‘international.gov-design.com’. There you find all of the events that have happened already, and the one that’s happening next.

Laura Stevens:

And are you hoping this will, you mentioned for like the American one was a bit more localised to North America. Are you hoping this will have a more global outlook because it’s just a bigger conference?

Martin Jordan:

The other day, I was listening to a talk from the Italians and I feel like everybody is kind of innovating in another pocket. So at the beginning some people were like, ‘oh GDS is so far ahead’, but like, we are ahead in some regards. In other regards like, other governments are totally leading. So there’s a lot of stuff we can learn from each other.

Laura Stevens:

Is there an example you can think of, maybe from that conference that you were like, ‘oh, they’re doing so much better, we can learn from them’.

Martin Jordan:

So the design system that was created by the US folks and as well the design system created by, by the Australians, contains like various components that we might not have had.

So there has been, after one of the calls, like kind of like, an immediate exchange of code...

Laura Stevens:

Yeah.

Martin Jordan:

...which was like, wow. We were like, ‘oh this is a component we do not have here’. So that people…

Laura Stevens:

Yeah.

Martin Jordan:

...just share code literally, just…

Laura Stevens:

Straight away.

Martin Jordan:

Yeah. Which is quite amazing, amazing to see. Yeah.

Laura Stevens:

And in terms of obviously, you’ve had a really significant growth over these past few years, in terms of where you want to the community to go, is there any plans you’ve got for 2020, in terms of maybe, targeting different countries or growing it further or in a different direction. What would be your take on that?

Kara Kane:

In terms of the events, we’re intrigued to see how we can continue running those, and how we can continue having the community take ownership of those events. So we have been in, we’ve had people contact us from 3 different countries saying that they’re interested in running a conference. So we are in talks.

Laura Stevens:

Watch this space.

Kara Kane:

Watch this space.

So we’re trying to think about you know, how many events should we do a year, and what should those events look like, and how big should they be. So we’re working on a bit of a conference playbook…

Laura Stevens:

Yeah.

Kara Kane:

...at the moment, that we can share with people who want to run a conference, to really help them be able to do it.

So in general for the community, going forward, we want it be, we want it to continue to be a place that is supportive for people working in this environment and in this space. We want to continue bringing people together, we want to continue seeing things like the Finns and the Estonians kind of working together and running events together.

And you know, people working on similar service areas coming together to share and learn from each other. But we really you know, in the future, want to get to a point where we’re, as Martin said around the design system example, like how can we share interaction and service design patterns.

Martin Jordan:

Yeah.

Kara Kane:

There’s so much kind of possibility for that. So how can the community facilitate that and what does that look like and is it possible, and at what level can we get to, and how can we keep you know, stealing from each other.

Laura Stevens:

Yeah.

Kara Kane:

Stealing code, stealing ideas and just you know, really learning from what everyone else is doing. So it’s really about kind of, maximising share and re-use, which is the theme of the November conference.

Martin Jordan:

Exactly, yes.

Laura Stevens:

And so if, how would I join this community if I’ve been listening to this, wherever I am in the world, how would I join?

Martin Jordan:

So we have quite a few blog posts on the design in government blog, that is one of the GDS blogs.

There you have a dedicated international category, and whatever international blog post you read, at the bottom there are all the links to join the Google group. And then you’re part of the community.

Kara Kane:

So once you apply to join the Google group, and join the community, then you’re sent a welcome email. Which kind of tells you about the Slack channels, it tells you about the recordings of the monthly calls, it tells you about the events that are coming up. So you can immediately find out what’s going on and how to get involved.

Laura Stevens:

And tell me about applying. Who exactly can join the group?

Kara Kane:

So it’s open to people that are working embedded in government, working in user-centered design. So you could be a designer, a user researcher, some working in accessibility, anyone who’s interested in design, and you have to be interested in talking about those things, from any government in the world, is welcome to join.

Laura Stevens:

And I don’t know if we could round off with maybe some tips that you, on how to set up your own community, if this is something, if there’s some quick fire tips that you’ve found over learning this community. Sort of, how do you scale, how do you keep momentum going and what tools do you need.

Is there anything you’d want to add those?

Kara Kane:

I think the first thing is using platforms that people are already on.

Laura Stevens:

Yeah.

Kara Kane:

So…

Laura Stevens:

Don’t reinvent the wheel.

Kara Kane:

Don’t reinvent the wheel. Please.

Just people use Slack, so use Slack.

Laura Stevens:

Yeah.

Kara Kane:

People use email, so use Google groups. It makes it so much easier if you make it hard for people to actually get to the platform where the conversation is happening, you’re already putting up a barrier to your community.

Laura Stevens:

Yeah.

Kara Kane:

So make it really easy, easy to access once you’re part of the community. And easy to, easy to respond and join conversations.

Martin Jordan:

And if there are events happening, whether they’re kind of like online calls or like physical meetups with talks, like if you can, try to record stuff. So if there is like material you can share, because people will either kind of like, join communities later. Yeah, do that.

Or as well be not able to attend, and if you can then share the materials so they can still consume it in their own time, it’s really beneficial.

Kara Kane:

Yeah and I think, building on that, is just having different formats. So not just having a Google group or a Slack group, where it can be really really scary to ask a question or share something.

Having things like monthly calls where you’re kind of, inviting people in to present, inviting people to consume information in a different way, having face to face events where people can network and meet people in a different way. Just having different options for people to feel engaged in the community.

Laura Stevens:

So different formats, use the tools people are already on and record what you do.

Kara Kane:

Yes.

Martin Jordan:

Yeah.

Laura Stevens:

Three excellent tips.

Kara Kane:

And help introduce people.

Laura Stevens:

And is that sort of, facilitating..?

Kara Kane:

As a Community Manager.

Laura Stevens:

Yeah.

Kara Kane:

It’s really, especially in the beginning, is just help facilitate relationship building.

Laura Stevens:

Yeah.

Arrange lots of cups of coffee.

Kara Kane:

Yeah.

Laura Stevens:

So thank you to both Kara and Martin today for telling us about their experience in running the international design in government community. So thank you for coming on.

Kara Kane:

Thank you!

Martin Jordan:

Thank you.

Thank you to both Kara and Martin today for telling us about their experience in running the international design in government community.

You can listen to all the episodes of the Government Digital Service podcast on Apple Music, Spotify and all other major podcast platforms. And you can read the transcripts on Podbean.

Thank you both again very much.

12 episodes