Making design better by being open

TL;DR: GCHQ’s tech team published a paper on GitHub about their digital transformation. Lots of people should read it, so we’ve improved their design to make it clearer. GCHQ made things open, so we could make things better.

GHCQ’s activities are often highly contentious.

However few would argue that their technology capability is anything other than world-class, notwithstanding widespread concern as to how that capability is put to use.

Recently GCHQ’s technology leadership team published a paper entitled  “GCHQ: Boiling Frogs? Technology organisations need to change radically to survive increasing technical and business disruption

Example page from original design of GCHQ: Boiling Frogs
GCHQ’s Boiling Frogs paper

Anyone interested in digital transformation should sit down and read it.

It describes how GCHQ has embraced the culture, processes, practices and technologies of the internet era, optimising for agility.

It also explicitly encourages other UK organisations to adopt a similar approaches to their own digital transformation.

To give you a flavour, here’s the table of contents:

• Operating Model (including structure and interaction styles) • Organisational cultures • Use of accommodation • Approach to measurement • Skills management • Use of commercial suppliers • Leveraging Big Data • Approach to architecture • Use of processes and techniques • Approach to Security • Approach to HR

I only have two minor criticisms.

Firstly, the language could be clearer. Maybe the GCHQ team could ask someone who’s not a technology expert redraft a future edition?

Secondly, the paper’s amateurish design risks undermining the perceived importance of the content, and hence reduces its impact.

Fortunately, GCHQ made a point of publishing their paper via, the mother-lode of open source code and culture.

So, while we were loathe to edit the words, here at Co-op Digital we’ve been able to improve the document’s design.

We’ve also published our redesigned version on GitHub.  

Example page from new design of GCHQ: Boiling Frogs
Our redesigned version

Our redesign is not branded Co-op. The design is neutral. That should make it easier for anyone to share it. The words are the same, but it’s hopefully easier to read and less likely to be rejected as “a collection of clip-art and geeky blog posts” (not a quote from anyone at the Co-op, I hasten to add!)

We’ve used one of GitHub’s co-operation tools (aka a  ‘pull request’) to make it easy for GCHQ to incorporate our new design into a future edition, should they so wish.

Make things open. It lets us all make things better.

Tom Loosemore
Director of Digital Services


You’re invited to Open Data Manchester, at The Co-op

We’d love to see you, in person or on social, at our home 1 Angel Square, to hear from Group Digital Services Director, Tom Loosemoore about the cultural challenges and opportunities of being an open organisation.

Open Data Manchester

Designing open practices within any organisation is challenging. Through Co-op Digital, The Co-op is embracing a change in organisational culture and the way that it interacts with the outside world. Open data and the free flow of information is a vital part of this change.

To help this transformation, some of the team responsible for developing Government Digital Service (GDS) have recently joined The Co-op, here in Manchester and Tom Loosemore is one of them.

At this event, with Open Data Manchester, Tom will discuss what it means to become an organisation that embraces the opportunities of openness, how to help your organisation have the confidence and capability to do it and how promoting openness and more intelligent use of data can benefit organisations and the wider community.

Food and refreshments will be provided, book your free ticket here.

If you’re unable to attend, follow @CoopDigital on Twitter for live tweets and live streams on Periscope, which you can find out about, here.

WHEN Tuesday, 1 March 2016 from 18:30 to 20:30 (GMT) – Add to Calendar

WHERE The Co-operative Group – 1 Angel Square Manchester M60 0AG – View Map