Apparently I have been for about two years, but until a conversation with Carl Haggerty a month ago I didn’t think I was.
I knew about LocalGov Digital of course. I’ve been involved in unmentoring for about 18 months; I’ve even written a blog post about how great it is. I’ve been to LocalGov Camp twice. The second time I took part in Makers Day, and challenged myself to pitch and run my own session. But I didn’t think I was part of LocalGov Digital. I engaged with the products, but didn’t really see the whole network or understand how I fitted in to it.
When my Co-op membership came through recently and I ticked the box and got my groovy blue membership card, a transaction happened. I knew what I was signing up to and what I was part of, and I knew what I could do next to get involved. Plus I got a cool membership card with retro stylings.
To me this was what was missing from my experience with LocalGov Digital. I didn’t really know what LocalGov Digital was and what it stood for and I’d never ‘signed up’ to it. I didn’t feel part of a network even though I was.
I’m in awe of the work LocalGov Digital has done so far and I’m interested in how I can be part of building on that and taking it forward. How we can grow the network, develop it and use it to effect real change in local government?
What about a co-operative model?
The Localgov Digital steering group has proposed the idea of moving the network to a co-operative model and, from my perspective, this makes a lot of sense.
A co-operative could give us a way of creating shared principles and values that members can commit to and feel ownership of. A shared vision that we can articulate to ourselves and to others. Alongside the LocalGov Digital Service Standard, it gives us a framework to say what we stand for, what we’re trying to achieve and how we want to work with partners and sponsors.
By introducing a £1 donation for joining it creates a transactional element, making it clear that you are a member and that you are part of something substantial. It will also start to raise modest funds to allow LocalGov Digital to do more for and with members. Apparently membership cards are unlikely to be introduced, but I’m lobbying hard for stickers.
I think the real benefit of a co-operative model is that it can retain the agile and fluid nature of the network which currently works so well. It’s not creating a rigid set of directions to one location, but giving ourselves the tools to make our own maps. So that no matter what challenges arise in the future we can respond to them. We can confidently change direction, skirt traffic jams and learn from our wrong turns. We can have open and honest dialogue about where we should be going and the best way to get there.
I think this is an exciting direction for LocalGov Digital to take. One that opens up lots of opportunities for future growth and development by and for members. This model gives people a stake in the future of the organisation and the opportunity to see that they are members; and that they can and do make a difference.
What do you think?
These are my thoughts; what are yours? Read the news release with more detail about the proposal here.