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Tag: Community

Buy out, or buying in.

Welcome To The Party Richter GIFs | Tenor

So, we’re ten days into Difrent being ‘bought’ by The Panoply group; people keeping saying ‘congratulations’, ‘how’s it working for a new boss/ company?’, ‘how do you feel about the buy out?’ So I thought it was a good opportunity to reflect on my thoughts about the acquisition.

And the answer is, I’m feeling pretty good actually. Honestly, so far there hasn’t really been much difference, other than the feeling that we’re part of a larger group of likeminded people.

Difrent is still Difrent, my boss is still my boss, my teams are still my teams and my peers are still my peers. What it does mean is that I now have more peers to talk to, share lessons learned with and bounce ideas off of. It means there are potentially more opportunities for our people to get involved in, bigger communities of practice to be part of and more slack channels to share pictures of my dog on.

A picture of a black dog
The Dog.

Chatting to some of my team yesterday, and the best analogy I could think of about the Panoply group and my understanding of how it works is actually the Civil Service.

Within the Civil Service you ‘belong’ to a certain Government Department, I was at DWP for ten years, and even years after leaving there’s still a part of my brain that think of myself as a DWP person, even though I worked in 5 different departments in my tenure in the public sector. But as a Civil Servant, although I was in DWP, I had opportunities within and across the Civil Service that others outside the Civil Service didn’t. If you were at threat of redundancy in the CS, you got first dibs on other job opportunities, not just in your in department but across the Civil Service and secondments and training opportunities across government departments were possible to further your career development etc.

Within the Group we have the opportunity for our people to go on loan to another company in the group, to further their career development, or because the project they have been working on has ended and we don’t have something else for them to immediately move onto, but someone else in the group does. This is a massive bonus for our people. It gives them so many more opportunities, and takes aware some of the fear you get in agencies about ‘what happens when this contact ends?’ We’re already sorting out access to the communities of practice within the group and discussing opportunities for our people to do secondments in the future/ and vice versa for others in the group to come work with us.

These options to be part of something bigger, to open up and share more opportunities for our people, to work together with likeminded folks was one of the reasons I voted for joining the group when I was asked my opinion. And it certainly doesn’t hurt on a selfish level that so many people I know, have worked with before and respect are also in the group; Within the first 10 days I’ve already had fantastic welcome meetings with so many folks across the whole of the group.

My first ‘catch up/welcome to the party’ call with Ben Holliday was like we were picking up where we were last time we worked together, and Carolyn Manuel-Barkin and I have already put the world to rights and discussed all things Health related; all definitely good signs for me. And being part of the group is already paying off for us, with some joint opportunities with Not Binary and the fantastic folks there already looking very positive (honestly David Carboni has not only the most relaxing voice, but is also really interesting and if you get the chance to hear him talk tech and good team dynamics you should definitely take it). [EDIT: since posting this blog this morning, we have now won our first piece of work with Not Binary!]

Difrent is all about delivering outcomes that matter about adding value and making a difference; and we’ve always been vocal about working better in partnership, both with or clients and other suppliers. Panoply will help us do that.

The strength of Product People in Government

For those that don’t know me I’m Zoe, proud mum, avid geek and currently the Head of Product at the Department for Works and Pensions.

At the start of this year, we in the DWP worked with the Goverment Digital Service to host the first ever cross-government Product Management conference.

Why? Because we wanted to bring together all the Product Managers and Owners currently working within government to celebrate our achievements, grow our community, and look at what more we could all do to keep driving our work, our profession and us as individuals forwards.

The event was, I believe, a massive success, we had speakers and representatives from a wide variety of departments, the community nominated to topics that it wanted to discuss and we all got a chance to network and share stories. I got a lot out of the day, not only professionaly, but personally. But, that event was never designed as a one-off, and the main thing I and many others took from the event, was what more can we do?

So what have we done since then?

Well, we’ve expanded the Product People community dramatically, we’ve grown the network outside of London, and started having regular gatherings of Product People in the North.

We’ve got the Product Management career pathway into Beta and being used by most departments within government. A handful of the Heads of Product are now getting together regularly to share news and updatesand we’re using this group to share recruitment plans, job or secondment opportunities, training and development ideas, for example.So we’re building consistency and collaboration to benefit all those working in the profession within government.

We’ve continued to work with the Digital Academy to deliver the Product Owners working level course across government, and started development on the first Product Management masterclasses, that will begin role out shortly.

We’re starting to offer cross-government mentoring opportunities for Product Managers, and building those networks between departments, allowing us all to workmore closely and learn from each other.

Many government departments are now recruiting for Product Owners and Product Managers up and down the country at various levels. This gives us all a great opportunity to grow our community and keep building the user-centred culture we need in order to solve the right problems and deliver the right things.

Product Management is a very exciting place to be right now, and planning for the next conference is now underway, with HMRC taking the lead this time, and I for one can’t wait to see all we’ve delivered in the last 6 six months together.

You can read more here about what our Product Owners in DWP do, and what we’ve been doing to build our community:  https://dwpdigital.blog.gov.uk/?s=Product