Sunday, January 29, 2017

I Think There Are Some Lessons Here For All Who Want To Be Digital Change Agents.

This appeared over the weekend.
  • Updated Jan 27 2017 at 4:00 PM

Why Malcolm Turnbull's digital transformation guru Paul Shetler had to quit

by Jenny Wiggins
Lunch with Paul Shetler starts with a technological hitch. He doesn't receive the email I sent him changing our date to meet at Café Sydney. So I text to ask if I have the wrong address. He replies straight away. "No that's correct. Not sure why I didn't get it but thanks! Looking forward to it :)"
If anyone knows how to track down a missing email, it should be the self-described "technologist". The American was headhunted from his executive job in London with Britain's Government Digital Service in 2015 by Malcolm Turnbull – then communications minister – to run Australia's new Digital Transformation Office (DTO), which was set up with the laudable goal of making it easier for people to find and use government services online.
But Shetler was sidelined in October 2016 when the DTO was transmogrified into the Digital Transformation Agency (DTA) under Angus Taylor, who became Assistant Minister for Cities and Digital Transformation early last year. Less than two months after being moved out of the chief executive role into the job of chief digital officer, he quit.
We've taken a table on the terrace, preferring to be outside even as Sydney Harbour shimmers in the summer heat, paper fans helpfully placed alongside the cutlery. The waitress suggests "a nice cold beer" to Shetler. "Maybe a glass of red wine," he replies. 
Shelter, who lives near the Harbour in Sydney's Elizabeth Bay, is in no hurry to leave Australia. "It's such a beautiful place, it just seems kind of crazy not to savour it," he tells me, gesturing to our view over Circular Quay, where a cruise ship, the Carnival Legend, nestles in front of the Harbour Bridge. 
Talent shortage: 'it's a vicious circle'
But are there enough opportunities to tempt him to stay? Shetler grew up in Ohio's Cleveland Heights, a quiet university town, but has lived and worked in some of the world's greatest cities, including New York, Rome, London and Amsterdam, and has Russian and Lithuanian ancestry.
Yes, there's "definitely possibilities", although he agrees Australia does have difficulties retaining talent. When Shetler arrived in Sydney in mid-2015, it was hard to find skilled people working in digital product development. "It's sort of a vicious circle – there's not much talent, there's not much demand for it, so people don't go into it and those who do get the jobs get snapped up by a Google or by an Apple and then they go overseas."
For Australia to "thrive and not just survive" in a digital economy, it needs people with the skills to create products it can sell, Shetler explains as the sommelier comes over to discuss pinot noirs, recommending he tries a glass of the Moorooduc Estate from the Mornington Peninsula. A tempranillo rosé sounds more appealing to me as the temperature soars, and I choose La Linea from the Adelaide Hills. 
Vastly more here:

Towards the end of the article he makes some useful points about just how hard change is and that for success the whole system (all of the web-sites, processing and information) need to be fully managed and made coherent.

Additionally his discussion of just how the public service can resist change makes for good reading!

Well worth a careful read.


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