Neil is Product Manager at GOV.UK, the UK Government’s central website that puts user needs at the centre of public services. In 2013 GOV.UK won both the Design of the Year Award and the D&AD black pencil for Writing for Design, and according to Tim O’Reilly, “there isn’t a single organisation on the planet who wouldn’t benefit from studying their work.” Neil leads the Inside Government product, which replaces the corporate websites of government departments. He wants to use digital products to change things for the better. Somebody called him, “the most subversive person in the civil service”, which he likes.
Until a couple of years ago, I was one of thousands of web staff in central government, managing one of 300+ websites. Now I’m one of a handful of product managers transforming those sites into a single domain: GOV.UK.
When I first heard about the idea, like most other people running government websites at the time, my reaction was, “over my dead body.” It meant shutting down everything I’d just built, and disruption and loss of control for the organisation I worked for. But then I remembered to think for myself. Disruption and loss of control wasn’t just the right thing to do, it was right up my street. I shifted my thinking from, “this will never happen,” to, “how can I make it happen?” Now I’m working with thousands of those colleagues to help them to shift their thinking too.
This is a story about opening your mind, seizing opportunities, and working with others to achieve something extraordinary.
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