Watmore’s wisdom

June 21, 2009

Reading Computer Weekly informed me there might be something tasty in the evidence given by Ian Watmore, former government CIO and more recently of the DIUS but shortly to be Chief Executive of the Football Association. I couldn’t find a transcript by my own efforts but got a link from Rage on Omnipotent!

The uncorrected transcript of the Parliamentary Public Accounts Committee of 20 May 2009 includes such gems from Mr Watmore as:

“people from the private sector – myself included – are always surprised at how difficult the business problems are that we are trying to solve.” Q10

“one of the challenges that we have always had is that people sit too often in Whitehall and do not get out to the front line enough and do not see the consequences of things that look good on a bit of paper in Whitehall but are not actually translating properly in the front line.” Q11

“I think there is a genuine problem of too many initiatives.” Q16

What a guy!


If you are interested and, preferably, in UK local government please complete the survey, it doesn’t take long at all. I’ll keep feeding back through these pages, which are also covered by localgov.co.uk and PSF.


Computer Weekly blog awards

August 27, 2008

Despite being shortlisted, the blog didn’t make the top two in the Computer Weekly Blog Awards for 2008, but never mind! Interestingly the winners were both from education with the Microsoft Schools News taking the ‘gold’.

In the meantime I’ll keep up my campaign around metrics in local government service delivery, particularly electronic service delivery and with three dates for presentations already provisionally on the books:

Ethicomp 2008 – University of Mantua, Italy (not me though!)

ESD-Toolkit – Customer Satisfaction work group

EiP Conference – a little session on service delivery sophistry

This should all help develop phase 2 of the research! so please keep comments dropping in!

Semantics, semiotics and sophistry

August 22, 2008

The debate about what is customer insight, need, focus etc; whether it should be citizen or customer, is an important one, not due to semantics but to semiotics (what we intend to mean by the use of particular words or expressions) and I believe there is an element of sophistry in their usage.

Calling someone a customer might be intended to give them a warm cuddly feeling whilst all the time they are a citizen in need of assistance. At least calling them a citizen means that as a part of a community they can expect certain privileges and the person assisting them has certain duties in providing the service, and the warm cuddly feeling can pervade all around when the citizen is satisfied.

Some definitions:

Customer – From Wikipedia – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Customer

A customer is someone who makes use of or receives the products or services of an individual or organization. The word historically derives from “custom,” meaning “habit”; a customer was someone who frequented a particular shop, who made it a habit to purchase goods there, and with whom the shopkeeper had to maintain a relationship to keep his or her “custom,” meaning expected purchases in the future.

Customer needs may be defined as the goods or services a customer requires to achieve specific goals. Different needs are of varying importance to the customer. Customer expectations are influenced by cultural values, advertising, marketing, and other communications, both with the supplier and with other sources.

Both customer needs and expectations may be determined through interviews, surveys, conversations, data mining or other methods of collecting information. Customers at times do not have a clear understanding of their needs. Assisting in determining needs can be a valuable service to the customer. In the process, expectations may be set or adjusted to correspond to known product capabilities or service.

Citizen – from Wikipedia http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Citizen

Citizenship is membership in a society, community, (originally that of a city or town but now usually for a country) and carries with it rights to political participation; a person having such membership is a citizen. Citizenship status often implies some responsibilities and duties under social contract theory. It is largely coterminous with nationality,[citation needed] although it is possible to have a nationality without being a citizen (i.e., be legally subject to a state and entitled to its protection without having rights of political participation in it).

We then get onto where semiotics meets sophistry:

Customer Insight –

This definition is taken from the Government Communication Network’s Engage Programme.  The Insight section on the Engage web site (http://engage.comms.gov.uk/ – only accessible to the Civil Service!) includes more detail on methodology and tools, together with some examples of where deep psychological truths derived from customer insight activity have been applied effectively in campaigns to drive behavioural change.

“ A deep ‘truth’ about the customer based on their behaviour, experiences, beliefs, needs or desires, that is relevant to the task or issue and ‘rings bells’ with target people.”


Customer Need – what the paricular needs of a definite class of customer are, these may be further defined in the ‘Circle of Need’ proposed by NWEGG/Apera.

“For a local authority this means understanding and delivering to customer need, measuring the extent to which it is being met (or unmet) and the extent to which it is changing. Understanding,like management, requires the individual to construct a mental model which provides a structure for more detailed information. The ability to develop, adapt and communicate the model is a key enabler to developing shared understanding. As such, the first step in addressing customer need is to model need from the customer perspective. The second is to pilot the model and use it operationally, by integrating it into ongoing citizen information collection processes and service design processes, so that it is
adapted with actual changes in need and changes in types of service delivery. The third step is to use the model to support need analysis and service planning processes.”


Customer Satisfaction – Customer satisfaction, a business term, is a measure of how products and services supplied by a company meet or surpass customer expectation. It is seen as a key performance indicator within business and is part of the four perspectives of a Balanced Scorecard. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Customer_satisfaction

Customer Engagement (CE) refers to the engagement of customers with one another, with a company or a brand. The initiative for engagement can be either consumer- or company-led and the medium of engagement can be on or offline. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Customer_engagement

Customer Profile – Segmentation breaks the market into sub-groups of consumers with similar demographic characteristics, lifestyles, product preferences and media preferences – this is the customer profile.

In my simple view the definitions would encourage us to stick with citizen for those government deals with, they hardly consume government, nor does government sell its services (often).

As a result I believe we need to develop a ‘citizen oriented architecture’ for which phrase I acknowledge the relationship with the phase of another blogger ‘customer oriented architecture’.

Computer Weekly blog awards

July 5, 2008

Its been a busy week with a meeting of the Local Government CIO Council, a job interview (but didn’t get it) and reading a ton of recently discovered (by me) material on benchmarking, ethics, service quality, social capital and related matters including ‘A Strong Foundation – Report of the Task Force on Public Service Values and Ethics’ from Canada in 1996 and an excellent paper against New Public Management ‘The New Public Service: Serving Rather than Steering’ from Public Administration Review 2000, Volume 60, No. 6. Not exactly new but when collated with a range of recent thinking suggest we’ve been distracted by buzzwords from the US.

A quick thank you to my viewers, most of the feedback is verbal or email, but I received this today (5 July 2008) –

Your blog was recently nominated in the 2008 ComputerWeekly.com IT Blog Awards by a ComputerWeekly.com reader.  All nominated blogs have now been considered by our panel of judges and I am delighted to inform you that The Great E-mancipator has made the shortlist in the  public sector category.  

Your blog will now compete against selected other blogs in a public vote currently live on the site.

You can find out more about the IT Blog Awards 2008, assess your competition and find the voting page by visiting the Blog Awards page on ComputerWeekly.com.  Voting will be throughout July with the winners in each category announced in August.