The biggest difference I have noticed between working in the public sector, and moving across to an SME in the private sector, is that you are actually allowed to shout about what you do.

For some, this will always seem like an alien concept. Especially if you work in IS/IT/Digital (delete depending on what shoes you wear).

Very few in the public sector really shout about what they do. Be it deploying code, rebooting a server or iterating on something that wasn’t great in the first place. Keep your head down, don’t draw attention to yourself. Because if you do, you are looked upon with suspicion. Or someone will hex you with the “Daily Mail Test”*. No one wants that.

In the private sector, especially in an SME, you are judged on just how visible you are. Don’t shout, don’t get seen. You don’t have to constantly be in prospective, partner’s faces, but you do need to let people know who you are and what you do.

No! What you have done and how good it really is.

Yesterday there was a flurry of activity in the office, and I was really charged off it. Positively!

Firstly, we at Difrent are putting together a series of videos – live action shots, talking heads, B-Roll material – that we can use to promote the work we do. All beyond the 100 word answers we are asked to collate as part of framework submissions**.

Working on this with Rachelle of Strange Digital has shown just how easy and relaxed it can be. Self and corporate promotion doesn’t need to be about business cards, PowerPoint slides or “anticipated growth in Q4”. It can be as simple as confidently discussing what we do.

The material will be edited to remove some of the errs, ums and the sound of a glass crashing off a window ledge (it didn’t break), but the words will still be mine and our teams. Words that explain who I am, what I do as a leader and what I believe is behind the way we work.

Not scripted, no slogans. In many ways, it will be the same conversation I will have on day one of a new gig, with a new partner – drawn to working with us because of the videos they watched.

In addition to this, we found out yesterday that we have been nominated for an award – The People and Partnership Awards by HTN ‘Team Work and Collaboration’ award. This is for the great work we have carried out with the NHS Business Services Authority on redesigning the NHS Jobs service (It’s more than just a website).

I put together the words for the submission. Which is what happens in this sector. So much goes on, that it would be impossible for a judging panel to know where the real differences are being made. So you have to shout about it. You have to put in to words why you have more than just a buyer/supplier relationship. Which is what I genuinely believe we have. A partnership, which flexes and moulds through “what went well” and “what could have gone better”.

We, Difrent, bring the expertise in the form of User Researchers, Service and Interaction Designers, Business Analysts, Developers, Testers and Delivery roles. The NHS Business Services Authority brings a wealth of knowledge, understanding, passion – and sometimes pain – to help support the needs of their users. Mix and match it together and you have one team working towards a common goal. Which we review, debate and reaffirm on a regular basis.

The nomination is recognition enough of the brilliant work the team are doing. Yes an award will look great on both our websites and Twitter feeds, but whatever the outcome, we can tangibly show the difference the team is making as we deploy new code, enhance the underlying infrastructure and produce a service that meets the user needs. That reward extends far beyond our team.

We just need to find a better way to shout about it.

You can see examples of the difference we are making on the new NHS Jobs service on this blog post.

* The Daily Mail Test is the public sector bogeyman. It’s a threat, often given out in leadership circles of an organisation, as to the dangers of negatively appearing on the front page of a national newspaper.

** The way we bid for work is to apply through approved frameworks of funding and contracting, which do require you to answer questions in no more than 100 words. That is a skill in itself.

Chris Written by:

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