So what was I doing in Sunderland? You ask me? You know that I have an interest in regional technology and such issues as collaboration across the differing authorities so when Sunderland City Council announced that they were planning a market engagement event for a technology partner then I had to wangle a ticket. (Actually it wasn’t that hard. I was just going for dramatic effect as if I am living on the edge. All I did was to ask the right people.)
We’ve tried collaboration twice between local authorities in my time, once with Sunderland and another elsewhere. Both got to the eleventh hour and then the wheels fell off. I’m still not sure why but it seems hard to get something together between public bodies unless it is mandated.
So that is why I wanted to come along. It is my view that greater collaboration across the public sector is the only realistic way forward, not just because it is likely to require less organisation and so lower cost but rather because not everyone can be an expert in everything. Only by collaboration can we bring all of our talents together. Only through collaboration can we maintain a viable public sector in the long term.
Dare I say that public public collaboration doesn’t work? It’s just too hard to get organisations that do similar things but have different visions to come together. Or is it? I don’t think public private partnerships work either. We talk different languages. You’ll now list off all of those that do appear to have realised the benefits but the days of the monolithic handing over of services to a strategic partner are over, if not at least on their way out.
Perhaps there is another way, a public-public-private partnership. A consortium of public sector focused employees who want to improve services and the appetite to get involved with the backing of an agile, innovative and commercially focussed partner. Or the other way round?
Who knows? I certainly don’t but it was with that in mind that I made my way to Sunderland Software City on a Thursday afternoon.
It was a good event, with lots of attendees, many of whom I know. A lot of them I had seen at Dynamo15 only last week. Paul, who used to be at One North East got us underway with an impassioned and inspirational speech about the exciting things that go on within the city. Across the region we have a fantastic story to tell, we just need to tell it better.
It was a great opportunity to speak to others who are interested in what being a technology partner might be. That is why they were at the event. I got a couple of takers who were interested in what I was thinking about and so will set up a couple of meetings to explore the possibilities.
Where will this take us? I have no idea at this stage but if we don’t engage and think about the opportunity then we won’t get anywhere.