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Hi John, I've delivered a half day ministerial briefing for the PRC government. It was good to see that the senior minister brought along his 21 regional public sector CIOs. It's a model that I've seen before in Finland and one that fits well with the regional IT service centres that I advocated for the UK a decade ago. It was notable that the minister and CIOs clearly understood both the business and the technology.

Chicken or egg? Neither. Customer first! You have to commit to both as part of a customer focus. The IM model becomes part of the justification for the OD. Each is dependent upon the other. The customer perspective should drive everything that you do. That means breaking down departmental thiefdoms, as well as their silos, and having an organisational structure that meets the customer focus.

It's difficult to deliver in the UK because ministers climbing the slippery pole are not keen on long term projects. I get three hours for a ministerial briefing in China and three minutes in the UK. The bigger stumbling block in the UK is the suppliers who will kick, scream and lobby because they well understand that chaos is more profitable.

John Suffolk

Dear David thank you for your comment. I think we have the “chicken and the egg” situation here as to what comes first. In my humble opinion our ability to move forward with anything that will work at a whole of county level is predicated on recognising the different cultures and competences that are required. The Civil Service has brilliance at policy development but is not so good at execution nor delivery of the required policy outcomes. So let us start with recognising the different requirements and create an Organisational Design (OD), and all that goes with good OD, to create great capability in both competences – policy and execution. This gets us to the starting point to go onto phase 2.

Phase 2 is at the heart of the policy problem that you see today, and the resultant chaos created in policy execution, that is what is it we should do for the good of the Country? How do you make policy decisions when resources (money, people, skills et al) are in short supply? Let me explain:

What is more important for the country at large getting citizens to see their GP or free bus passes for pensioners? What is more important breast reduction or enlargement or cancer drugs to prolong someone’s life? What is more important an increase in resources at borders and immigration or foreign aid? Unless you can answer these questions and hundreds more you get policy by ego, guesswork, populism and fantasy – just look at the announcements at recent party conferences, just read your papers today. There is a way to answer such tough questions but I am not convinced political parties want to nail their policy colours to the election mast in such a clear and unambiguous way – I do passionately believe it what the electorate want though.

My next blog post will be about how you prioritise such tough questions, and then maybe after that I will review the progress on the ICT strategy implementation. Don’t get me wrong what you say is valid and it has its place but first we must create the Government Infrastructure so that you thoughts can be executed.


I agree with large parts of your article but there is one overriding concern that I have with government thinking both past and present: none of the models I've seen start by putting the citizen at the centre of the information management model.

For as long as the departmental tinkering continues, real transformational cost cutting and service improvement will remain hamstrung by the information delivery mechanism.

TADAG (2014) is a new model for information management and security that puts the customer at the centre, whilst enabling an inherent flexibility that is required to enable true transformation. Designed for both banks and government, TADAG poses a real threat to the revenue streams of major IT suppliers. Until government deals with the commercial prerogative, with its attendant, linked party political donations, true transformation will remain a pipe dream.

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