March 2, 2012 by Jim Morton
As the basis for all of our ICT Strategy work we decided it would be a great idea to come up with a simple list of general principles which would underpin all of our more specific strategies, providing a method for shaping thinking with our ICT community.
That was three years ago – it has taken us a fair while to get to a set of principles that we can agree on and work towards. To be fair, we have been fairly busy in the meantime and a lot of this work has informed and improved the principles that we now want to establish.
The difficulty in establishing principles is that the very subject is incredibly divisive. To some, like the absurdist philosopher/goalie Albert Camus, they are inflexible barriers that promote dogmatism and hinder free-thinking:
“The principles which men give to themselves end by overwhelming their noblest intentions.”
Others, like slavery-ending beard enthusiast Abraham Lincoln, see absolute principles as a necessary stick to beat others or themselves with in order to keep everything on track, he said:
“Important principles may and must be inflexible.”
But perhaps the view which dovetails most closely with our own, in that our principles should help express our aspirations and the direction that we wish to travel, is that of one-inch puncher, Bruce Lee:
Obey the principles without being bound by them.
We have drawn up a list that we want to influence and shape decision making at all levels of ICT, but without impacting on our ability to innovate the way that we manage and develop our services, or creating an inflexible environment that will stifle R&D an out of the box thinking. This list has been validated by all sorts of people inside the organisation and will hopefully soon be formally signed off. There will be a lot more communication when this happens.
So, in what I imagine is probably another first for a county council ICT department, here are the eight generic principles that in some small way were influenced by the same creative force behind Enter The Dragon:
1. Utility computing: We prefer to use services that can be provided to us as a utility by a third party, rather than create or manage them ourselves
2. Reuse: ICT will be made up of components that can be used in many different situations, rather than each problem or requirement being addressed individually.
3. Single identity: Access to all ICT services and electronic information will be through a single electronic identity.
4. Personalisation: We will provide everyone with their own tailored experience of our services and information. We will support personal data stores.
5. Open Standards: We strongly prefer technologies that are openly available, rather than the property or product of a particular company or organisation
6. Risk based approach: We will make decisions on how to provide services based on a balanced understanding of risk and reward.
7. Any user device: We will provide our services to any appropriate and suitably secured device, whether or not it is owned and managed by WCC.
8. Electronic Information and data are open by default: We will treat all non-personal and non-sensitive information as open to everyone and provide methods for anyone to access it. Personal and sensitive information will be kept secure and confidential but will be shared as appropriate to deliver services to the public.