What’s next?

As Jed Bartlett said to Josh Lyman “When I ask ‘What’s next?’ it means I’m ready to move on to other things. So, what’s next?”

Well, actually, that’s not completely true… I am moving on, but I’m not ready – not really 😏 – but as one of my mentors told me many times, you never feel like you’re ready…

I’m writing this the day after my leaving drinks, and my memory is still soft-focused from a few too many drinks, but my overriding sensation is of how much I feel for my amazing team and my colleagues who have worked with me over the past 10 years to imagine, create, re-imagine and re-create the change/transformation services in Bristol, including Enterprise Architecture and digital delivery. So many people have allied themselves with me, and I with them, in the service of better outcomes for people in Bristol and a better, different council.

It’s not been easy. We’ve made mistakes, learned from our failures and reshaped our approach. We’ve become more agile, and listened to real people who use our services, putting their needs at the centre of our redesigns. We’ve shared with our colleagues in Localgov Digital and worked with them to push for better practice across the country. And recently we’ve suffered massive challenges as the inspirational leadership that gave us space to work this way was replaced with people who didn’t understand or care to learn about what is recognised as national best practice.

But despite that I am so proud of the achievements of my team, even/especially in this most difficult year of the nearly 21 years I’ve worked for Bristol. This past year we’ve built a core professional digital delivery team, based on a Dev/Ops culture, that has risen to the challenge of building new services, improving infrastructure and processes, and reducing costs – we delivered great new digital services to housing tenants and at the same time removed over £200k off the annual maintenance budgets.

Whilst I wasn’t ready to step away, it had to be, and I’m looking forwards to new adventures. I’ll be sharing more about them on my new company blog in a week or so… My consolation is knowing the strengths of my team and seeing them rally and support each other. I wish them all the best – and have told them the one thing they should try to adopt from me is to look outwards and network – because that has been a source of strength and joy for me in so many challenging times. Localgov Digital, Localgovcamp, iStandUK, colleagues from the old DCLG Digital team, and a gang of CIO/CDO reprobates that I met through Gartner and Socitm – they have helped me to stay fresh, to hear about different ways of tackling common problems, and encourage me to keep going.

You’ve been the village that raised me through my career to date, and any success I achieve from here on is founded on that solid base you’ve helped me build.

Thank you very much, I’ve been Gavin Beckett, Head of Digital Transformation at Bristol City Council, you’ve been amazing, see you at my next gig…

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