Live from CSForum: It’s not a technology problem

It’s not a technology problem, by Leisa Reichelt

Leisa works in government. It can feel like being a thousand monkeys on typewriters, but it’s for a good purpose.

“Be clear about what you’re doing. The reason is unlikely to be ‘transformation.’” -Kate Tarling

“Far too many people claim they’re doing ‘transformation’ when they’re merely doing the same things faster/cheaper.” -Dr. Jerry Fishenden

Doing the same thing faster/cheaper isn’t a bad thing. But it isn’t transformation. It’s possible that no government is doing transformation. It gets blocked, because business and IT would have to be aligned on the priorities. Transformation is way too much work for those two groups.

Real transformation is risky. Changing institutions is disruptive. It could result in people not getting paid, not being able to take care of their kids, etc. The risks when working in government are HUGE. So it’s valid that gov’t groups as: “why would we do this to ourselves?”

Why do digital transformation

Struggles in government:

  • People think the gov’t is purposely making it difficult to access information
  • People think they’re being asked for info the gov’t already has

That means people need reassurance. 80% of calls coming into the UK’s service center were “failure demand” – requests for help because the gov’t was failing to provide information.

A problem this big can’t be fixed in small pieces. It required transformation. When the UK “fixed” their problems, they digitized the paper structure, rather than identifying the best way to create a digital structure.

  • For example, instead of labeling what the gov’t would call something, focus on the action someone’s trying to take – end-to-end, not just in the moment.
  • For example, if you can remove the form instead of digitizing it.

“A need is a necessity, arising from a problem.” -Tomer Sharon

Be wary of projects that have the solution in their name. A human-centered approach identifies the problem and finds the solution.

Don’t think about your project as a website. It’s a way to solve problems. It’s a place to build end-to-end services.

When we follow in the footsteps of our users, we solve their problems. When we instead just try to connect our own internal boxes, we don’t make useful, human-centric connections.

Content provides us with a high-value, low-risk way to do transformation. Work on things that matter, and meet real user needs (do user research!).

Marli Mesibov

Marli is a content strategist with a passion for the user experience. Her work spans websites, web applications, and mobile. Marli is the VP of Content Strategy at the UX design agency Mad*Pow, where she helps healthcare, finance, and educational organizations communicate with their audiences. Marli is a frequent conference speaker, and has spoken at conferences including Content Strategy Forum and LavaCon. She can also be found on Twitter, where she shares thoughts on content strategy, literature, and Muppets.

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